Philosophy: Has the importance of ethics reduced or has it increased in the 21st century?

  01-Sep-2018 14:43:31

Philosophy Life ethics 21st century


Ethics may be defined as the systematic study of human actions from the point of view of their rightfulness or wrongfulness. It is a means for the attainment of the ultimate happiness.

We people have set some standards for ourselves and our society which helps us to guide our behavior, choices and actions, this is known as Ethics.

Importance of Ethics:

Ethics is concerned with the practical life and not merely with pure theories. It shows us the right or the ideal path through which we can meet our ultimate goals or the ends in life. There are many ends which men may pursue in life. Some may seek wealth, independence, power, fame, knowledge, love, excitement or peace. Others may take interest in various other things like art, science, technology or serving others. So, we should say that ethics is a means to achieve an end.


Ethics is the basic essence and basis of human life; be it any religious leader, religious scripture or any philosophical thinker all talks about ethics that becomes the basis of human existence.

Ethics has always been relevant whether it's 19th, 20th or 21st century. It is hard to propound Hindu ethics in a few paragraphs. Hindu doctrinal content has not been consolidated in a single text- though Bhagavat Gita comes closest to it. The four moral ends of life are Dharma (mortal law), Artha (wealth), Kama (esire) and Moksha (salvation).

The moral ends enable men to lead a happy moral life and also attain salvation after death. Dharma signifies the rational control of human passions, appetites and desires. Dharma is the correct way in which a human being has to fulfill his personal, social and moral needs.

It is always our ethics that acts as a guiding light for us. Ethics are important in all the walks of life. The relevance of ethics is growing day by day but it is we who through our deeds make everything irrelevant in practicality and prove that ethics looks good only in books.

Today ethics is introduced as a subject in schools, colleges, professional studies, civil services etc. But have we ever given a second thought to the fact why was it not studied as a subject twenty years back the timeline.

The answer to it is “NO”, we have no time to “stand and stare” and give a thought because we have locked ourselves in a self-created prisons.

Today, the civil servants of our country are made to study ethics as one of their core subjects and even after that they get into such activities which are unethical in every aspect and has become a matter of great concern.

It is a very subjective matter as to what does ethics means to different people from different walks of life.

For example- There are officers like Armstrong Pame, who got a 100 km road constructed by crowdfunding through a Facebook page when even the government authorities denied to fund the project. On the other hand, there is an IPS officer who molested a girl whose age was same as that of his own daughter and forced her family to remain silent and ultimately torturing them to such an extent that the girl committed suicide. The question arises what kind of ethics were they taught that one of them becomes a protector of people’s lives whereas the other turns out to be a destroyer of other’s lives.

Way forward:

Ethics being the guiding principle of life teaches us that in pursuit of self-perfection, we have to abandon pride, we have to learn the theory of tolerance. We should always believe in KARMA as what we sow, so shall we reap. Many a times we get instigated by things that happen around us we begin fighting over religious issues, hurt each other's religious sentiments, speak ill and unethical words but we should not forget that “Religion of a man will find its perfection only when the cult of ‘AHIMSA’ preached by lord Buddha, love by Jesus, fraternity among men by Mohammed Nabi and the philosophical thoughts of Rishis of India, find their confluence and consummation “. We should try to become the sponge that can absorb the negativity around.

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