Saturday, August 31

First Nations Ethics

First Nations Ethics
Ethics and the moral compass as it suggested might have applied to the first nation’s people
What I think one might say right from the outset is that the Australian aboriginal tribal systems (before it broke down very badly with addiction to alcohol, loss of tribal oversight by elders, law etc.), strove to keep their children safe and to become responsible members of a tribe’s culture. Gifted children were identified early on as representatives on the elder’s councils and there was no inherited rights that we see elsewhere in ancient cultures. In fact it is doubtful if the colonizers ever saw the culture accurately such was the pace of devastation caused by disease and the sudden loss of habitant.

There was almost an immediate outbreak of smallpox and loss of habitat, to the extent that the position pre colonization of their rich culture was largely non-visible, except for isolated pockets in the remote regions. In Tasmania, for instance, as early as 1835, only a tiny fraction remained up until the last surviving full blood died in 1876. 
Even so, anthropologists misinterpreted such things as skin types and totems as was erroneously attributed to a form of incest, according to Jim Pouter- Sharing Heritage in Kulin Country.

My interest in the subject goes back to early  school days growing up in a small country town , where it became rather obvious that something was sadly remiss in not only what we were taught at school, but in the prejudicial talk of the townsfolk. They considered the aboriginal people’s second class citizens.

I recall the small housing settlement where they lived on the outskirts of town, constructed using poor quality timber work and which might be described as a cluster of tiny huts, many with broken windows and exhibiting an air of isolation and neglect. So, in writing this paper, it now reminds me those early childhood thoughts of what I imagined it must have been like, to appreciate in some small childlike manner, a sense of the loss and loneliness of a once rich culture now just a distant faint shadow of its former self. But this paper is not about the social ills that led to this state of affairs, but rather aims to provide an insight into their rich history and to talk about their 
morals and tribal ethics. Along the way I will attempt to shed some light on their belief systems resplendent in the Dreamtime, which underpinned every facet of their life.
As a final aim I want to continue to explore the idea of ethics by way of a moral compass, to talk about how this theme might be exemplified in their beliefs and practices. But first of all I need to debunk some of the stereotyped ideas and misinformation that permeated early history.
A tendency to stereotype first Nations people and misunderstandings by Anthropologists.

Historians, up until fairly recently, with a few notable exceptions, were prone to label first nations peoples culture as primitive. To recap, I vividly recall descriptions of aborigines from my early school books depicted as small tribes of nomadic hunter gatherers,  dependent on using stone and whose only shelter from the elements were  temporary ones, constructed from branches and the bark of trees. Whilst that may have been true, by way of necessity for the more arid areas, they occupied, it was certainly not so for the more densely populated areas in around the coastal areas where game was more plentiful and farming was undertaken. Evidence exists of what must have been similar to maize harvested and stored in certain areas. We also have evidence of stone buildings where they stayed during the season of eel farming. Even the pictures of aboriginal peoples, taken in remote arid areas, gave the impression they only barely eeked out an existence from a barren landscape. 
This is in stark contrast to seeing pictures of clans on the Dorrigo plateau (which possesses some of the richest soils if anywhere in NSW) as the sturdiest looking group you could ever encounter.    
Rather, we were treated to oblique reference to their colorful carvings on the rock faces or the occasional news item about corroborees or to “payback punishment " handed out to an offender of a tribe violating ancient law. Looking back to the 1950’s we find the first Australians did not rate a mention in a typically chronicled “A short history of Australia", notwithstanding an existence stretched back maybe 70,000 years. The significance of dreamtime stories which gave meaning to successive generations and ensured an ongoing affinity with the land was mostly overlooked, as was their complex system of law, extensive kinship and spirituality.  
Recent discoveries uncover a far richer dust   
According to the Conversation, In the 1970s, Dr Peter Coutts of the Victoria Archaeological Survey carried out site surveys at Lake Condah (Tae Rak), the centrepiece of the Bim cultural landscape. Lake Condah is very different to the marshy plains near Mt William. It is a rugged lava flow terrain of basalt rises, swampy depressions, and waterways formed as a result of the eruption of Mt Eccles (Budj Bim) at least 30,000 years ago. Coutts and his team found what local Gunditjmara people had long known about – extensive Aboriginal fish-trapping systems comprising hundreds of metres of excavated channels and dozens of basalt block dam walls constructed  over innumerable generations before European contact. Coutts estimated that the volume of basalt blocks moved measured in “the many hundreds of tonnes.
Another aspect is the first Nations peoples appear to have understood lunar and solar eclipses and the movement of the Sun, Earth and Moon. The ABC reported that Duane Hamacher from Sydney's Macquarie University, said Aboriginal communities in different parts of Australia often have similar traditional stories to explain these events.
According to Hamacher they understood the motions of astronomical bodies and the correlation with terrestrial events which meant they could identify the movement of the tides and the emergence of changing seasons and attendant emergence of different food sources.

First Nations Society and Culture
What was also evident was a high degree of autonomy was evident in the small groups that lived together as clans. But, I need to pause here and attempt to explain their complex structure. Each tribal nation, of which it was thought to number about 500, was designated within defining borders. Residing within these nations there are the so called clan groups. They are larger than a family but based on a family link through a common ancestry. Hence Clan groups shared a common language and kinship system. 
What I aim to do is to explain these kinship systems, but I first need to explain their spirituality.
I would draw attention to the fact that although there wasn't one deity covering all of Australia. Rather there was a common idea about initial creation was evident according to Jim Pouter, which he describes as Wandjinism.  How it works is that each tribe has its own creation spirits with an overlap of beliefs, (just as there is an overlap of words between language groups) but the beginning creation story remains consistent.   
By way of example, Wandjinism in the northern Kimberley of Western Australia is associated with the Ngarinyin, Worora and Wunambal tribes. Thus, although the tribe’s beliefs and accompanying theology are different in other parts of Australia, that is only applicable as it relates to the different creative spirts.  According to Jim Poulter, the foundational belief (Wandjinism as GOD) is of a universe created by a Supreme Being. This was made possible as in the Dreaming. The permanence to the Dreaming creation was that it was broken up into assorted creation pieces and existential life, projected into the Dreaming in the form of Creator Spirits. 
When these Creator Spirits had concluded their creation, they then surrendered to the Dreaming, to become the landmarks and animals we see today. Poulter goes on to explain the only creatures left with full consciousness were human beings, so their role is to protect the living spirit world that makes up the landscape and is representative of the Land and the Dreaming. Hence, when Wandjina (GOD) saw that human beings understood their ecological responsibilities, all knowledge that would ever be needed was seeded into the Dreaming, and the first nation’s peoples believed that had access to it through our own Personal Dreaming.
GOD (Wandjina) then took no ongoing part in the affairs of the real world, but watches. Hence, in summing up, the idea was creation was continuous and the spirit of that creation in various landmarks continues in tandem with the tribe’s existence.  It is also important to understand the first nation’s idea of time which is non-lineal. According to elder Dr Fejo -King the best way to think about is to imagine the figure 8. Thus, prior to pregnancy the creation spirit enters the womb to convey knowledge. During existence this knowledge is reinforced during ritualistic ceremonies such as during ceremonial dances at Corroborees that prepare one for the future and so on. The idea of a past, present and future is not applicable, rather there is only continuous creation and re-incarnation via the dreaming.  Hence, in summing up, the idea was creation was continuous and the spirit of that creation in various landmarks that continues in tandem with the tribe’s existence. Other matters of importance were decided at Corroborees as to where to hold planned festivals when resources might be in such abundance they could be shared. Long journeys were undertaken to attend these festivals using the stars to navigate across well-worn tracks and landmarks. Trade was facilitated by the use of message sticks, using symbols to support the negotiators who could then overcome foreign language difficulties. Such negotiations might involve the granting of water rights to fish certain sections of the river in one region in exchange for the right to mining scarce resources available in another.       
Having explained their spirituality and customs we can know better understand their kinship system and ultimately the source of their individual morals. In a nutshell their kinship system operated at 3 levels, Moiety, Totem and Skin types. 
I will attempt to explain how each works, but additionally I would recommend several websites for those seeking a more comprehensive coverage.    
According to Moiety the Creation stories, embedded in the Dreamtime, ensured everything can be seen as two halves, inclusive of yourself and your environment. 
One side of the Moiety may be principally concerned with preservation whilst the other can hunt and fish, but both are a mirror image of each other according to the totem and skin system that defines the Clan. 
A Moiety is preordained and when you share the same Moiety as other people, they are all considered as siblings, and hence, you are forbidden to marry within your Moiety. 

This also means you have a duty to reciprocally support one another, as in your enlarged family.   

Accordingly, the moiety system exists across Australia and there is a section or subsection system with four to eight ‘skin names’. Individuals gain ‘skin names’ upon birth based on the skin names of his or her parents, to indicate the section/subsection that he/she belongs to. The children then must not marry into that side of the Moiety, but alternate with each generation. Later on I have provided a diagram to illustrate  how this works by Elder Dr Fazo – King.    

The foundation of the kinship is also the totem systems that ensures each person has at least four Totems; their personal, family, clan and nation totem.
The Totems provide a link to the physical universe: to land, water, geographical features, and animals. The family, clan and nation totems are pre-ordained but an additional individual totem will be decided by tribal elders which recognizes personal strengths. Individuals then are accountable for their totems and are to ensure these totems are protected and passed on to future generations.
Skin Names
The 3rd level of the kinship system are skin names. They define the relationship of one another and their obligations to one another. An individual doesn't have the same skin name as their parent's, husband and wife. Rather It is a sequential system based off the mother’s name (in a matrilineal system), or the father’s name (in a patrilineal system), and has either a four cycle or 8 cycle a naming cycle. From the reference there is an explanation of the 8 cycle naming cycle  

Notice that on each side of the Moiety the children who marry will marry into the opposite side until such time as the cycle is complete. The naming cycle then repeats.
Hence, by way of example, cast your eye on to the far left hand daughter’s side, to notice the children’s Moiety’s skin Type.
 Notice that Nampin is on the red side of the Moiety (called Wuriurru). After marriage Nappanangka ( daughter) is then on the black side of the Moiety (called Kingili ).
After marriage Nakamarra (daughter) is then on the red side of the Moiety (called Wuriurru). After marriage Namkill (daughter) is then on the black side of the Moiety (called Kingili). After marriage, Nampin (daughter) is then on red side of the Moiety (called Wuriurru) as the cycle repeats. It is not hard to understand why the early anthropologists did not understand the system and how it quickly became compromised with the decimation of the clans and tribal systems. 
If you like you could now do the son on the right had side and then the alternate other sides to grasp how the whole skin systems relationships works.
Note the N Names are for female skin names and the J for males in respect to skin names within either side of the Moiety.  
For a further reference Dr DAVID M. WELCH has set up a site as per the link below to help students better understand Australia’s ancient culture, which provides an excellent reference. The website represents an amalgam of books relating to the subject matter. Dr David M. Welch is a general medical practitioner based in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, who has worked with Aboriginal people since the 1970s, researched their rock art (painted shelters and engraved rocks) and other aspects of their culture, and written more than thirty journal articles, reports and books on the subject. The journal articles can be found and downloaded at
The aboriginal Land Council also provides excellent material on how the kinship systems works as per the First Nations Website  :
Morals arising from the kinship tribal system. 
One can now readily ascertain the moral duty to your extended family under the Moiety system. You also have a responsibility to pass on his knowledge associated with your 4 assigned totems.
You come into the world with your moral responsibility already defined by your Moiety, Totems and Skin types with additional guidance provided by the elders.     
Identifying different ethical categories. 
What is not surprising is the ease we now find in identifying different ethical categories without the need to draw too long a bow.
Note there was no hierarchical inherited claims that plagued other cultures, as governance by elders was based on merit. That is evident in a reservoir of knowledge (epistemology) encapsulated in the Law and the responsibilities defined under the Totems, as an ongoing commitment to consistently apply it’s principles to both tribal life and in the wider obligations to other nations.
The spiritual application to show reverence to MOTHER EARTH provided the ethical values as to how they must act responsibly to the land and to nature. We may not agree with some aspects of the application of their law or its brutality, but what does seem relevant is it ethical framework to support the tribe’s sustainable existence ahead of the individual. Given a bit of a stretch we might associate this reverence to the land as kind of either evolutionary or virtue ethic, as it defines how we must look after the earth upon whom we depend. Plato posited early training in the moral virtues was essential in ensuring goodness in ensuing adulthood. We might liken the tutelage period for aborigines, separated from the tribe to be instructed to the law, until such time as they were deemed fit to enter adulthood, as a similar type of idea.      
But, I think it is far easier to make the transition to duty ethics, since the loyalty to the tribe to stay true to its rituals and rules was paramount.
Separation from the clan or tribe was tantamount to death of the spirit in both physical and in spiritual forms. This is evidenced by a rare ‘pointing of the bone episodes’ to serious law breakers, where we have the account of one unfortunate subject who died of a broken heart. Such an event occurred during my childhood and I remember the baffled reports from the hospital that could find no medical reason for his untimely sudden death. I only mention this to illustrate the extraordinary kinship and feelings of belonging that existed to be part of a tribe.      
A theory as to where morals came from for the first Nations peoples.    
As various instinctive type reactions underpinned enhanced survival, psychological traits became aligned to this social cohesion principle which was reinforced by evolving beliefs. Hence what emerges towards sustainable tribal cohesion and existential order is the requirement to adopt principals of ethical fairness to ensure optimum survival outcomes.    
The integration of their knowledge served principally ecological purposes, evident in the clan system that operated throughout Australia and allowed them to exist within their designated water catchment systems,  
From what has been uncovered it is clear their existence was supported and reinforced by ideas closely aligned with nature, underpinned by the ideas of the dreamtime, a period considered outside of time when creation was thought to have occurred. In this respect reverence is demonstrated to be shown in practices that point to a type of communal existence co-dependent with nature together with what was regarded as sacred land.   To reiterate the dreamtime posited a first Creator appeared in the physical world to bring forth natural children and plants under the control of a MOTHER EARTH, from thence came animals but lastly humankind.
Dreamtime stories were instrumental in defining their tribal values which led to an elaborate system of ethical rules under the common law, such as initiation into adulthood. To reiterate this law covered ritualistic ceremonies such as the processes for corroborees when the tribes met to resolve matters such as arranged marriages, to plan for trade between the nations, to celebrate and so forth.
Whilst there is no evidence of full scale war between nations, there is evidence of severe skirmishes between them and a high level of violence as scores were settled brutally by means of “payback”. Penalties were quite severe and death prescribed for unauthorized entry into sacred sites.
But what was remarkable was their existence for such a long period without denuding the landscape, although changes due to the operation of fire stick farming may have led to the extinction of some species. Like many other rich culture there are aspects of Aboriginal values which tend to suggest pluralism, self-determination, community, family, relationships, and achieving balance within all the domains of human life.
Possibly the idea of moral values arose from the concept of fairness.
To reiterate I think it is fair to say our earliest codes of accepted behaviors in Aborigines appears to be based on putting sharing ahead of individualism, so that loyalty to the group underwrote enhanced chances of survival.
Concurrent on the other side of the globe the success of the human species adapting to the enhanced dynamics of the group has been extraordinary but many would argue to excess. One could argue in the process the table has turned to become consumers and not sharers in nature’s bounty.   
Possibly the early roots for this twist in the evolutionary road from sharers to consumers may be linked to the idea we have dominion or superiority over nature, which is to be tamed and brought under human control. Such a view, combined with our extraordinary inventive improvements and adaptions in modernity has prospered humanity, but often this is at the expense of all of the other species. This in turn has the capacity to change our ideas on what are our underlying ethical values; to engender the need for a revision in our thinking to return to the way we viewed the lands when once we were more reliant to respond to the changing seasons for our survival. 
I think there are grounds to believe there are many ingredients in a universal type of morality entwined in nature, brutal as it may seem, although of course this cannot be proven and is by no means easily discernible. What I have attempted to do in this paper is to illustrate the important ingredient of social cohesion as form of evolutionary ethics that played a pivotal role in in our own early evolutionary journey.

Wednesday, August 28

A new Life upon the wicked srage

Life upon the wicked stage

My wife and I performed in many Musicals and Reviews. The first photo was taken of me rehearsing as Lieutenant Daniel Gilmarton for “Calamity Jane “seen here in a scene with Calamity. Next we are both together in the Musical operetta “The New Moon” my wife as a Flower girl enticing “Alexander” on her left and me as the landlord on her right. In the Gilbert & Sullivan production of “The Gondoliers” I was “The Grand Inquisitor” (character in the black costume) and next you see us both performing the song and dance number entitled “We’re a couple of Swells”.

“The New Moon”, was probably the most memorable, considering its beautiful music by Sigmund Romberg, creative staging and because of the real life drama during the show. Songs include "Marianne", "The Girl on the Prow", "Georgeous Alexander", "Softly as in the Morning Sunrise", "Stout Hearted Men", "One Kiss", "Wanting You", "Funny little Sailer Man", "Lover Come back to Me", "Love is quite a Simple Thing", "Try her out at Dancers", "Never for You" and "Lover Come Back to Me" .

Magnificent costumes and sets were hired from the Australian Opera including genuine 16th century cutlasses. Effects were further enhanced with the use of electrical charges for realistic explosions and puffs of smoke to denote cannon fire.

The first real life drama occurred on opening Night. It was the custom on all opening nights to wish everyone metaphorically to “break a leg” but one chap performing in his very first show did that, in the opening number and within a few seconds of his first appearance in front of his friends and family, to stunned disbelief.

I remember there was an almighty crack; as he first twisted and broke his leg while marching out boldly onto the stage for the first time. An ambulance man administered oxygen to him back stage to help alleviate the terrible pain prior to his hurried stretcher removal to hospital. The show continued on after a short break. The second drama occurred on the final night and involved the pirates. At that time it had proved difficult to find volunteers to act as pirates since they were only required for a few minutes on stage each night for what was nearly a 3 hour show. The local Cricket club came to the rescue with the required man power in exchange for our donation and slab of beer for each pirate. Except for the over zealous use at times of the cutlasses it worked well except for the grand finale on the Saturday evening as the boys then had decided to pay a trick on us, much to the fury of the Producer. They entered from the opposite side of the stage as was intended, to the amusement of a capacity audience as we appeared frozen in time as they crept up behind us.

In the confusion the Stage Manager panicked and let off some additional charges and pulled down the sails with the ropes onto the stage as the intended scene became a chaotic smoke filled confusion. Fortunately the audience concluded this must be an intended twist to insert local comedy to the traditional storyline.

After hastily pulling down the curtain amidst all of the turmoil and mayhem we regrouped and carried on as if nothing untoward had happened.

Saturday, August 24

The Quest for a moral compass - updated

The Quest for a moral compass
This paper supports my next tutorial. Any feedback is appreciated. 
I begin in the home of western philosophy, in ancient Greece, to trace the evolution of ethics into modernity.
I also talk about Chinese traditions and seek to explain Buddhist ethics which tends to be neglected by Western philosophy.  
In conclusion I summarize the normative, virtue based, duty bound and consequential ethical categories that underpin ethics in society. Finally, I ask the question about where they come from and how they are applied. Have human beings been gifted with the degree of consciousness that allows us to make sense of the world and do we naturally enough have the will to develop ethical principles for existence?
I tend to turn away from the idea they arise from any notion of transcendentalism or arise directly from abstract theistic underpinnings. Rather, it seems they reflect a desire to provide a framework for existence as an inward compass to plot our way forward.
As usual there is far more material to present, but in choosing what I feel is relevant one chooses subjectively material that facilitates discussion. For instance St Augustine’s justifications for going to war rule out reasons for most of the more modern conflicts other than the second world war.
You will notice I have included a commentary on some ethicists who might be regarded as the modern fathers of economics. This  illustrates in all disciplines we need a set of ethical principles as a guiding moral compass.
Ethics inherent in Homers polytheism   
Hubert Dreyfus provides an insightful overview into the ancient Greek ideas – to discuss Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and the Odyssey. Here we see the ancient idea of ethical behaviors bestowing honor and glory at the behest of the immortal GODs.  
Homer’s phenomenology of the body incorporates the idea our various moods keep us continually in tune with ourselves and give rise to a meaningful life; a reflection of, or as arising from the various GODs, so that there is sacred nature to our existence.  Another way of putting it would be to say our consciousness depends upon personalities at a higher level than our own, emanating from the GODS. 
The way they viewed their existence was to see their Gods as an image of humanity possessing human foibles except they were immensely powerful and eternal. Dreyfus suggests Homers ideas are closer to our natural mode of existence than the autonomy and self-determination of the enlightenment.  
Aeschylus and divine justice
Athens was the first known democracy at the time when Aeschylus grew up about 500BC. Athenian democracy was recovering from its prior tyrannical ruler and coming to grips with a more meaningful existence. Against that backdrop of deliverance his plays covered the whole spectrum of human interactions. The plots involved the hand of fate and the consequential effect on communities in relation to the new GODS.    
Zeus, as the chief GOD maintained order, with lesser GODs believed to despise man’s greatness; so the idea took root of a sense of impiety, a false pride which consumed individuals in what we might think of today as hubris. The unjust were not always punished in their lifetime so that legacy became part of heredity guilt and vengeance. There was a strong correlation to the idea of acting unethically brought with it retribution of one kind or another.  
The plays also talk about reconciliation and divine justice administered in the Athenian courts of justice, with help from the GODS.  
Chinese Ethics
Concurrently in China Confucius (552-479BC), and others were making a mark on society that continues to this day.  
In ancient China no separation existed between church and state. Confucius happily existed alongside the prophetic streams from Abraham and Buddha.  For China was influenced from outside cultures by virtue of the ancient Silk Road 130 -1453 BC ) linking  east and west. The introduction of Buddhism from India in 150 BC initially met with stiff opposition so was reconciled Daoist’s traditions. Both Pure Land Buddhism and Chan (Zen) Buddhism are the two prominent strains today.
But ultimately the predominate force for ethical behavior is Confucianism due to its relevance and attraction as it relates to everyday life. For instance it is concerned with how one is to live a meaningful life: determining the optimum balance between families versus strangers. Its ethics don’t extend into the moral dilemmas talked about in the west. Rather, it is concerned with what is the right way and requires imagination according to its defining principles. However, like the west, the evolution of ideas has parallels in terms its ethical attributes of love, loyalty. Justice, piety and affection.     
In modern day terms Confucian ethics and liberal democratic values found their way into discussions in the late 19th and 20th century.  But Mau brought an abrupt halt to this movement and a suppression of the ancient religious practices and belief as China became an atheist state. But post the Cultural Revolution it has thankfully has moved away from these extremes and terror to work towards a more democratic society, which sits paradoxically uneasily within the confines of a communist state. However, human rights abuses continue as does the persecution of minorities.     
So, there remains a tension between what represents a good and meaningful life individually versus the Confucian ideal of social harmony and allegiance to the state.
The contemplative practices are almost always tied to a fairly straightforward ethical framework.
As one might expect there is a similar theme evident in the evolution of ethics in both the east and west. We find the emergent idea of the minds influence is evident in China’s philosophers, just as we do in the West. This is of course hardly surprising given the cultural influences of trade that permeated society arising from the Silk Road. Even more interesting is the early development of thinking that arose from Taoism, with the election of a Taoist Pope.  
Buddhist Ethics -5th century B.C. 
Buddhism teaches one is to purify our minds so that one has the capacity for lovingkindness and compassion for all sentient beings. They are various forms of Buddhism, but they all offer a systematic approach to understand the traits of character and actions that are the cause of our problems for both our self and others. It also offers ways that it proposes will assist in healing the suffering of the world. There is step by step path that forbids destructive actions until one reaches an advanced form of spiritual development where one will act spontaneously (enlightenment) for the benefit of others.
Buddhist principles are based on a truth seeker, as such they are committed to scientific principles but whose objectives are to alleviate suffering, to be desirous of happiness, of good outcomes, to be supportive of individuals in their shared aspirations, to realize these values, to show compassion in the rendering of services and so on.
Western Ethics
Returning to our western heritage we have the Ethics of Plato 428/427 BEAthens, Greece—died 348/347) talks about the highest conduct in life and the virtues required to attain it. Plato’s conceptual basis for happiness is not clear and he treats it in different ways- maybe because his ideas evolved during his life. His dialogues make reference to Socrates (469/470-399BC) who was his teacher.  
For Plato the soul must remain aloof and be separate to the pleasures of the body to obtain higher knowledge. In the same manner the individual must be subordinate to the community for the common good.
Plato thought moral values were absolute truths which spirit-like abstract entities. In that sense moral values were thought to be spiritual objects, which was refuted by Aristotle.   
The legacy of Aristotle
His philosophy was the cornerstone of philosophy over the ensuing seven centuries, influencing Plotinus and Porphyry. 
Thereafter his philosophy shaped the Byzantine Philosophy during the period 730 to 1453 AD.
Ethics in Byzantium was not a formal discipline, but various responses to problems posed in relation to everyday life. It covered the full spectrum of ethical views on virtues and vices, evil and passions, the good, and how to observe the commandments and so on. In the Arabic world his influence was such that it became known as The First Teacher.
Thomas Aquinas 1225- 274 AD sought a reconciliation of Aristotle’s philosophy with Christian ideas and so Aquinas became the home of theological and philosophical underpinnings for Christianity that remains in many respects to continue to be its bedrock even today.
Today, philosophers regard him as the reliable sage for virtue ethics. 
Saint Augustine (354–430)
His authority was far reaching and his authority supplanted that of Aristotle’s, to be invoked on both sides of the Reformation.  His ideas on the problem of evil and on free remain a reference point today.
According to Augustine the existence of goodness must allow evil to exist, which is solely the fault of humans. He also influenced John Calvin, who supported Augustine's view and argued in turn that corrupted humans required God's grace to give moral guidance. Politically his theory of the stringent conditions to be satisfied to justify a war are still invoked today.
But medieval philosophers continued to talk about moral principles as "eternal laws" which were classified as spirit-like objects.
Moving into the more modern era
Following the enlightenment and more rational thinking in the 17th century Samuel Clarke changed that definition spirit-like objects. Rather he talked about the idea GOD has willed the physical world into existence, just as was willed human life, so too are all the moral values willed into existence.
Sitting on the other side of the fence the sceptics denied values can be classified as spirit-like objects, to posit the idea moral values are purely human inventions.
Friedrich Nietzsche argued one creates his or her own morality to mark the distinction from what he regarded as the slave-like value system of the masses. He was influenced by the idea of The Noble Savage and the Transcendentists.  
Emotion and Reason- David Hume
Another important aspect to moral psychology concerns the role of reasoning as applied to moral actions.
David Hume argued the case all our moral assessments must involve our emotions, and not our reason. He conceded reason might be of service in providing the context, but "reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions."
However in modernity most rationally-minded philosophers have opposed these emotive theories of ethics.

Axioms aren’t ethics
It is important to note that the Constitution of the United States endures as the central ethic binding together diverse peoples.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
But these are statements believed to be true at the time according to the compelling natural-law theory that existed at the time.
Simone de Bouvier
I will turn now to her work to talk about existentialist ethics in the context of individual freedoms and the tensions that involves with wider societal freedoms.  This tension must inevitably lead to a responsibility, which in turn leads to an ambiguity as one seeks to incorporate the notions of values to freedoms within existentialist philosophy.
2. Ethics
a. Pyrrhus ET Cinemas
Although a lifelong partner to Sartre, she approached the philosophical question of ethical responsibility long before Sartre gave it more serious consideration. Her first work was Pyrrhus ET Cinemas in 1944.  
The story begins between Pyrrhus, who is an ancient king of Epirus, and his trusted advisor Cinemas. But on every occasion Pyrrhus makes known his intention to conquer many lands.   Cinemas asks him what he intends to do afterwards. Pyrrhus says that he will rest once he has achieved all of his plans. Cinemas retorts, "Why not rest right away"?
The philosophy was written in consultation with Sartre’s ‘Being and Nothingness’. It was in accord with his idea of freedom in an objective world in relation to the conflict between being-for-itself and being-in-itself. But notice in Beauvoir's analysis we have the implied ethical consideration of other free subjects in the world.
Hence, she poses the question the external world can be seen as a destructive reality, so it is up to individuals to establish an ethical link which manifests itself via ethical action. That human bond aims to mutually express the freedom of the individual, but at the same time to encourage the freedom of fellow human beings. However, she also asserts it may not always be passive because to remain a pacifist in every respect, regardless of the impingement on the freedom of others, is in effect bad faith.
The Ethics of Ambiguity
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947) is a continuum of the theme expressed in Pyrrhus.  Although Beauvoir adopts mostly Satrean philosophical ideas, such as there is no predetermined human essence or value, she presents the idea our human freedom is in a parallel with the need for that freedom of others for it to be properly actualized.
In the end she suggests in order for us to live ethically we are to assume the ambiguity as a given, to accept the paradox, and that involves the proposition as ‘bad faith’. In agonizing over different perspectives she gets around the contradiction by concluding all we can do to live authentically at the crossroads of freedom and facticity.
In summary her work suggests all we can do is to take responsibility for our decisions in the light of information known and in exercising our freedom in parallel to the freedom of others, which are not to be compromised.    
Finally I will briefly summarize the theories that loosely categorize ethics into broad categories.
There are 6 principal categories: normative, evolutionary, virtue, duty, consequential and applied. Applied refers to those issues which require application to the prior mentioned in responding to a thorny issue. 
The categorization is useful in helping explain ethics but is also somewhat arbitrary.
Normative Ethics
As previously outlined normative ethics invoke the golden rule or guiding principles that are generally agreed. Hence, one decides something is simply right or wrong by invoking the Golden Rule.
However, inevitably what I desire may be different to someone else so that such a single rule can be highly subjective.
In Confucius ethics we have the negative of the golden rule - what you don't want yourself, don't do to others.”
Evolutionary ethics favor the idea of fairness as it applies to the community to take precedence over individualism. From a biological perspective position there doesn’t seem to be any reason to favor self-interest over altruism. Certainty there is no evidence to support the selfish gene theories and those exposing only survival of the fittest that dominated discussions in the late sixties and seventies.    
Virtue ethics have surfaced in modernity as a credible source of reference, spearheaded by such philosophers as Alasdair Macintyre who has been a staunch defender of Aristolean virtues, contending they all emerge from within social traditions.
As outlined previously morality consists of following precise rules of conduct, such as "don't kill," or "don't steal."
However virtue ethics places less emphasis on the rules and more on cultivating good character habits so that habitually these become part of who you are as in your good character.  
Plato talked principally about the four key virtues- wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Others mentioned were fortitude, generosity, self-respect, good temper, and sincerity.
In addition to ensuring good character, virtue ethics talks about avoiding the vices in the first place by reverting to the virtues.
Hence Plato first emphasized the importance of moral education so that a virtuous character be instilled in the young so they might subsequently lead a virtuous life.
Aristotle then advanced the argument further by linking acquired good habits to controlling the emotions and declaring how we respond to live a virtuous life. 
Duty ethics cover almost all aspects of life to those who favor this approach. For most of us we don’t have to think about a duty to family and to the various organizations and institutions integral to our existence. To some extent there is an overlap to virtue ethics as what is determinant as a duty, has to be linked to what virtue makes such a duty valid. A duty approach provides meaning in the sense of pride as derives in selfless duty to serve others. The idea of duty could also include a duty to look after our own body.  They are sometimes called no consequence ethics because the duty does not have to have a consequence. In the metaphysical realm one might say one has a duty to a higher being or a higher self.
Consequentialism, as the name suggests attempts to trace the result of decisions so that they become ethical only as far as they result in good outcomes. An example is the utilitarian philosophical school. The problem with consequentialism is you can’t always determine outcomes, unless the matter is rather obvious. The idea of attempting to evaluate all possible consequences has, of course, considerable merit.  

Applied ethics to Business  

Ethics relates to both organizations and all involved or employed inclusive of the regulators charged with responsibility for the systems integrity I propose to examine past philosophers ideas and what can be applied today.
Applying Aristotle we find he contends a city-state should be fashioned on aristocratic nobility and justice principles for all and not as a business enterprise whose sole purpose is to maximize wealth. Nor was it to be a place purely to promote liberty and equality, but rather he argued for a constitution based upon noble actions and in the virtuous sharing in the community. His ideas overlaid a pragmatic and practical application, by arguing a city’s control is best represented by a constitution which gives a majority rule or power to the “middle class” as one suited to equitably represent both the rich and the poor. Justice and education were to be provided to all equally regardless of wealth or social standing.
Such ideas remain just as relevant for us today as there were then. For Aristotle was a philosopher who associated happiness with the habit of making virtuous choices so that by embracing such a disposition he asserted we build our moral compass to enable us to walk a virtuous path through the moral dilemma that life presents to us. Hence as time goes on it is our underlying virtuous disposition, strengthened by prior choices, which ensures superior outcomes. But the question arises as to how we know what the right choices are. In this respect Aristotle talks about the middle course, as in the middle ground, for instance as between profligacy and insensibility as therein lies our self-discipline. Aristotle ideas on justice are also rooted in virtue and then in its virtuous application.
Moral ethicist Adam Smith
During the Victorian era philosopher and moral ethicist Adam Smith published in 1776 his influential classical economic work entitled ‘Wealth of Nations’ to criticize the 'mercantilist' system. Smith articulated the view that business and money was the invisible hand of free markets which will produce a satisfactory price return for land, labor and capital because the self interest in any free market benefits the whole of society as competition keeps prices low.
Smith was acutely aware any concentration in power would distort a free market and pointed out Merchants wielded monopolistic power afforded them as a consequence of bans on foreign competition. Mercantilism was also associated with a monetary system which used exported bullion to pay for imports- mainly from Asia- which reduced money supply to exert downward pressure on prices and economic activity at the expense of impoverished workers.
The great ethicist and economist John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes was to present a new radically different system to offer hope we could avoid recurrences of the painful boom bust trade cycles. His sensible theory was we cannot rely on business as in markets to automatically adjust to ensure full employment so long as workers remained flexible in their demands. Rather his theory saw an active role for government intervention with both fiscal (taxation and spending measures) and monetary policy (control over the level of interest rates) to ensure economic growth and stability. Banks were to be regulated but enjoy ‘Lender of last resort’ from a reserve to ensure confidence was maintained in the system.
Hence Keynesians thought it was imperative for government action during severe economic cycles to introduce government spending, tax breaks and reductions in interest rates during recessions but to reverse the situation during highly expansionary times. In other words to increase those same levers during inflationary times.
Following the outbreak of World War II Keynes's ideas were universally adopted throughout the western world with commensurate success so that by the time we reached the mid-fifties all western capitalist nations mirrored his views to share in the relatively strong, stable economic fortunes of the immediate post war era.
For Keynes was one of the first philosophical economists who insisted economic theories must lead to fairer more ethical outcome for everyone, and one could argue his philosophy was s mirror of the a more virtuous system first championed by Aristotle and then Smith. Keynes' views were no doubt forged from his desire to avoid a repeat of the great depression where he held onto his shares and subsequently lost his fortune along with many others. His theories, supported by extensive mathematically modelling, suggested the need for a strong regulatory regime to prudently effectively use both monetary (supply of money and interest rates) and fiscal policy (government spending and taxation) to help iron out the inevitable economic imbalances. His theories were largely adopted in Australia with some considerable success.
As Keynes's influence began to wane many of his sound principles were jettisoned – particularly in relation to banking which has led to the more recent malaise where arrogant reckless and immoral activities became embedded into an economy whose systematic banking was destined to failure and become a blight on society at large. The monetarists who gained ascendancy were skeptical over the ability of governments to effectively regulate the economy with fiscal policy as suggested by Keynes, mounting arguments his measures were both costly and unnecessary – a boon to the naïve politician striving to appease lobbyists.  Their argument was one could rely solely on tight control of money to maintain price stability, a nonsensical concept never capable of sustaining any modern economy anywhere. These highly simplistic theories, were both easily understood and very appealing to politicians at a time of high inflation but selectively seized upon by vested interests with no interest whatsoever in supporting a free market economy.
Concurrent to that change in economic focus was a type of philosophical materialism which had taken even firmer root to assert our wellbeing or happiness in terms of business prosperity measured solely by money. This became linked to the fundamentalist type religions who promised future wealth as if synonymous with salvation. Simply put -if it doesn’t make money it doesn’t matter! A type of economic fundamentalism persuasively joined forces with branded religion to present a rather potent cocktail of political inspiration based upon a minimalist role for regulation, suggesting business as in markets are sufficient as the sole arbitrator except for control over the money supply. Undoubtedly this was simply ego driven madness on a rather grand scale underpinning many of our current problems and the lack of a moral compass in business today.
Modernism and the call for a return to Values Ethics in business.
In modernity we live in a time of intense competition but such competition has led to enmity, rather than any attempt to build enduring expansions in value in terms of services offered or goods delivered. This enmity has fueled a non-virtuous approach to business which prompts a propensity to crush small competitors and strive for monopolistic or oligopolistic corporate existence of power for enterprises. In other words crony capitalism; the exact opposite to the invisible market hand of the free market where all could compete which was envisaged by Smith.  In some respects in modernity, except to the extent of limited governmental agents and regulation, this lack of an ethical focus mirrors the practices of the unethical mercantilists. However, since the GFC there has been a groundswell of concern and anger unleashed by the public who are fed up with crony capitalism. It is not going to be easy to change direction considering there are currently 11,000 lobbyists resident in Washington alone.  
Changing with the times for the better.
But it is not all bad news, as the groundswell in collective consciousness to embrace a more ethical application is gaining momentum wherever you look. Paradoxically entities adopting value ethics are usually the ones that reap the best material rewards. Unsurprisingly these organizations perform better and are more attractive to work in, to invest in and provide sustainable outcomes for customers and other stakeholders.
St James Ethics Centre provides support to all organizations be they private or public, profit or not-for-profit, to identify and address the ethical dimension of what they do. I think it is particularly helpful for large multinational companies to have on line counsellors from the St James Ethics Centre to assist employees wherever they are stationed.
Many of the ideas of how to live and find meaning of the ancient wisdom streams are increasingly finding relevance to modern day thinking, to give impetus to the next generation to forge more meaningful and superior outcomes. 
The task of the philosopher is to continue to ask questions and advance those wisdom streams as far as they remain relevant to the new age we inhabit, that is the age of the humans. 
This will require a different way of thinking that will be contingent on a more empathetic approach to other cultures as we increasingly form a part of a global village. 
There is a need to develop universal secular ethical standards that provide us with a moral compass to live a meaningful life, but to leave the door open to imagination. Descriptive principles requiring imagination can lead the way to better outcomes, for you cannot legislate morality. One will inevitably fall off the ethical tightrope at times, so in humility one must in any system, leave room to consult the moral compass, to steer her back on track without fear or favor.  
The future then of religion and philosophy lies in introspection and to meditate on the ongoing rich narrative that remains freely (barring mental disorders) available to us.