Ethics are not a magical set of rules and standards which appeared in human society as if born in a vacuum and unleashed upon us like the primal light of creation.  Instead, ethics are standards governing our conduct which have been pieced together by the various cultures which make up humanity across the world.  Much like a jigsaw puzzle they have been pieced together over time and as we come to complete the tableau we begin to see who we are and what we believe reflected in its canvas and in ourselves.

Just what exactly is the meaning of ethics?  This definition is a little more difficult to pin down because there are so many things which seem like ethics but are not.  For example, ethics have nothing to do with ones feelings, even though many confuse ethics with their feelings.  A person following his or her feelings often will not do what is right, because feelings frequently deviate from what is ethical.  Neither should ethics be identified with religion, despite the fact that most religions advocate high moral standards.  Ethics cannot be tied to religion because this would mean that they only apply to religious people.  Whether one worships at the altar of a specific religion or not, is quite irrelevant because the atheist can be just as ethical a person as the high priest.

Another misconception about ethics is that the law is always ethical.  History alone has shown us the untruth in this way of thinking, as we look at the various unjust laws enacted in the past, from the laws empowering the Inquisition, to the apartheid laws in South Africa and even the present day Patriot Act, with its provision for the legal use of torture.  Despite their immorality, these laws were and are accepted by the citizens of these nations.  Following the law should never be confused with being ethical.  On the same note, following what a society accepts is not ethical either.  In WW2 the entire populace of Germany stood by and did nothing while the Nazis decimated a race of people, because they felt that they had to follow what society seemed to accept.  As a result an evil that could and should have been stopped was allowed to flourish and ultimately still haunts the world to this day.

So back to the question of what are ethics?  Ethics are, simply put, well-founded standards of right and wrong which prescribe what human beings ought to do.  In terms of obligations and benefits to society, fairness and virtues, and the right to life and all that comes with it.  Also, if one does not study the development of ethics then one will not evolve with the times because ethical standards do change with time and the influence of other cultures.    So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s ethics to make sure they are reasonable and strive to live up to the standards that are good and solidly based.

And what pray tell does my most recent diatribe have to do with creativity you ask? Well if you have to ask then unfortunately you will never know.Image

Ethics and Creativity


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