Ethics Essay, Plato and Aristotle and the Existentialists

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ethics essay

Plato/Aristotle/Existentialists By Amy Maddox

Socrates said, “No one ever actually chooses evil, they only mistake it for good.” I do not agree with this theory. For Socrates, the key to a virtuous life was knowledge of the GOOD. He believed, if one knew the Good one would choose it. One always chooses the best of the options available. The question is what is the Good? He would say, evil is the result of ignorance, and that Wrong doing is involuntary. Evil doers must be educated, instructed as to what truly is the GOOD and then they will choose it. If people knew what was the right thing to do they would do it. We always choose what we think is the best or good for us. So, if someone chooses to do what we think is wrong, then that person made a mistake and must be educated to see the error. They mistook evil for the GOOD. But, I believe that there are many people that do commit evil doings, while truly knowing that they are in fact evil. Again, Socrates would indeed argue that these poor souls were somehow shown that these ways were the right ways or the “good” ways. I would love to believe that there is no evil in the world. But, I believe that there is evil within all of us, but it only comes out if we allow it.

When we speak of Authenticity, we must speak in terms of these four Existentialists and what each of their understandings was. Sartre stated that we are free to choose, but we are not free to refrain from choosing. Wouldn’t that then be choosing not to choose? Kirkegaard believed Authenticity was to choose and live by faith in God and nothing else. Heidegger said “stop being absorbed by your doings and retain an attitude that, things may mean something else than I expected.” I somewhat agree with Heidegger and his understanding. But I have to give my full support to Levinas, whose knowledge of Authenticity was to live by responding to the other as prior to...
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