Difference between Western and Eastern Ethics

Key difference: Ethics is a branch of philosophy, also known as moral philosophy. It helps humans deal with human morality and concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. The main difference between eastern and western ethics is the fact that Western Ethics is about finding truth, whereas Eastern Ethics are very much about the protocol, and showing of respect.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy, also known as moral philosophy. It helps humans deal with human morality and concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime.

According to Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, "most people confuse ethics with behaving in accordance with social conventions, religious beliefs and the law", and don't treat ethics as a stand-alone concept. Paul and Elder define ethics as "a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures".

However, culture, social conventions and upbringing has a major impact on ethics and morality. Hence, people from different cultures tend to have different sets of ethics. This is especially evident in ethics of groups of people from the Eastern culture as compared to people from the Western culture.

Ethics and morality are not inbuilt, they are taught. We learn moral and aspects of right or wrong from our parents, teachers, novels, films, and television. Watching them, we develop a set idea of what is right and wrong, but mainly of what is acceptable and what is not.

The main difference between eastern and western ethics is the fact that Western Ethics is about finding truth, whereas Eastern Ethics are very much about the protocol, and showing of respect. Eastern ethics is much more about doing what is right in terms of what is expected of you by your family, society and culture.

Western Ethics, on the other hand, has more of an emphasis on self and what is rationally or logically true. Furthermore, Western Ethics places more emphasis on law and justice, whereas Eastern Ethics states that one must do what is right and expected and the universe will take care of the rest.

Comparison between Western and Eastern Ethics:

 

Western Ethics

Eastern Ethics

Focus

Finding Truth

Protocol and Respect

Basis

Rational Thought

Religious teachings

Emphasis

Logic, Cause and Effect.

Respect towards family

Roots in

Athens, Rome and Judeo­Christianity

Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism

Approach

Rational

Holistic and cultural

Conflict and Harmony

Good must triumph over Evil

Good and Bad, Light and Dark all exist in equilibrium.

Image Courtesy: skillsandethics.org, bpmleader.com

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