Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interpretive Tuesday

I stumbled across this quote and I actually had to read it several times and let it sink in before I came up with my own interpretation. I'm curious as to how others interpret this, so have at it. What does this quote 'say' to you?


"Ethics cannot be based upon our obligations toward [people], but they are complete and natural only when we feel this Reverence for Life and the desire to have compassion for and to help all creatures insofar as it is in our power. I think that this ethic will become more and more recognized because of its great naturalness and because it is the foundation of a true humanism toward which we must strive if our culture is to become truly ethical."

Albert Schweitzer

8 comments:

sherri said...

I think true ethics are laws written on our hearts.

They are natural because they come from deep within our soul-

We naturally desire to save and protect what we hold most dear.

Helen said...

He completely lost me at the word humanism. Until then, I was thinking Matthew 5:46 "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" and Matthew5:47"And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" Jesus was saying we have to expand the scope of our concern. That is what I was reading here until Al started talking about naturalness and humanism. First of all, there is nothing natural about extending the scope of our concern beyond those who immediately affect our lives. Second of all, humanism missing the essential component humans were actually created for: God.
Sorry about the tangent. It will be interesting to see what others come up with.

katdish said...

What Helen said...

Schweitzer's quote is based upon the flawed observation that man is basically good.

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

I find it interesting that Schweitzer, thru humanism, has taken a roundabout path to arrive at a Biblical truth.

This seems to confirm what I believe: that God's truth is true, regardless of whether you accept the Bible as its source.

Just today I had to figure out some discipline for my son for being disrespectful to me. I knew I wanted to avoid making it about ME or my feelings, and focus on the wrongness of the behavior, period. That's what came to my mind from the quote.

Beth said...

Wow- good thoughts, gals!

My first thought is that a lot depends on how you define "help" and "compassion" and "reverence for life."
I might have to have to consult my bio-ethics expert father on this one...he has this ability to explain tough ethical issues like no one else can.

But from my own observation, my three and four year old do NOT have a natural tendency to help others when it gets in the way of their own desires. I have to teach and reinforce a Biblical perspective on life every day. Just like God does with me.

bob "catsmeat" migon said...

This really is Helen's husband. I do think that the quote can make "ethics" a realm of impersonal Principles. We should love everyone because they are made in the image and likeness of God - not because the expansion of some abstract principle makes us feel better

katdish said...

Okay. Now I'm jealous! How come Bob leaves a comment on Annie's blog? No fair.

I suppose I actually have to write something of substance. I can forget tomorrow's post for sure!

Annie K said...

Bob, you DO exist. I am honored that you would leave a most profound comment on my blog.

I believe that A.S.'s philosophy was flawed. He wanted to believe that people are basically ethical and practice ethics as a norm (or, in Kat's words, he believed that people are basically good.) But actually, people, by nature are sinful, which is evil. He didn't deal with the sinful nature of people and that is where I believe he went wrong.