What is Ethesis?

The definition of Ethesis starts with a common question.

Ask yourself:  should a child be taught to go to Church and by the experience of right actions be allowed to find the correct motivation, or should a child be taught the right motivation and from correct principles be allowed to find the right actions?  You will find variations on that question at every level of society. That debate is literally thousands of years old.  It is the core of the conflict between Taoism and Confucianism and also surfaces in modern debates, such as the one between the "Iron Rod" and the "Liahona" models.

I simplify the question to the simple issue:  in life, should there be rules or inspiration? Structures or directions?  The answer, which is blended from the mental cognomens for esthetics and ethics (thus the coined word Ethesis) is "these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" -- in other words, we need both.  (cf. Matthew 23: 23).

To me, that is what Ethesis means, acting with both law and with spirit, a living esthetic of ethics, an ataraxis or inner peace I hope to find and nourish.

[return to Ethesis] [return to Living]

Postscript:  I came up with the word "ethesis" about twenty years ago as a word to describe the blended approach that defined my personal philosophy.

In 1997 I was directed to the works of Charles S. Peirce who also drew a connection blending ethetics and ethics as well as the role and value of experience in religion -- combining both rules and inpiration into action and realization. His perspective is another view at resolving the same issues and may be of interest to some and made me glad of my own conclusions.

For more on the topic, see Arthur Koesler's "Yogi vs. Commisaur" one of many essays on conflict expanded into the book Conflict Resolution and Social Justice:  Essays in Honor of James H. Lane edited by Richard E. Rubenstein and Frank O. Blechman.

For more on my personal esthetic, see James 1:26-27 and In the Day of Judgment, the King shall say ..., two excerpts from scripture.

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