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As man associates within the society, his experiences will eventually lead him to ask the essential inquiry and that is how he ought to live? The study of ethics responds to the central point of “how man ought to live as a human being?” Ethics provides some answers concerning as to when can we know that our actions make us truly human. As a human being, there are various ways of how man ought to live his life. In living his life man should know of what is essential and not essential in living for him to be guided and to have an authentic living in his life.
The authenticity of man’s life is evaluated by the standard of morality. The standard of morality is decided by reason rather than one’s own emotions. Man’s authenticity, as well as his maturity, is revealed through the rational choices and decisions that he makes over his life. Those decisions and choices that he make will enrich not only for his own sake but also for the rest of humanity.
As a human being, man must do his obligation not that he is pressured by the moral demands outside of himself but for the authenticity of his moral way of living. Man is considered superior as the highest form of animals among any other animals because he is the only being that endowed with intellect or reason. By having the capability of reasoning that man is being entrusted, he has the obligation and responsibility to use it for the purpose of doing what is the right thing to do. When man failed to use his intellect in making a moral evaluation of actions towards the society then he fails to do his obligation and will remain to be at the same level as to the other animals living a life that is ruled by instincts alone.
So as long as man is associated with society his life is subjected to moral evaluation. As a man of intellect, his way of living must be in line with what is expected of him by doing the right thing. So how should man live a moral life and not neglecting the standard of society?
In evaluating on how man ought to live one must know and understand the basic question in ethics “who am I?” Who really man is? Upon understanding this inquiry of who really man is then one can know where he needs to improve. This inquiry of “who am I?” portray an examination of ourselves. Man knows better other than his own self.
Aristotle suggests that when we act in spontaneous circumstances then we can understand ourselves better. Basically, man is expected to have a better understanding of his own self because self-knowledge is the key in confronting unexpected circumstances. When man has a better realization of his own then he can anticipate his lapses that he needs to cope up and his strength that he needs to improve. Man’s own understanding of himself will guide him on how ought he would properly behave and live a moral life.
When man knows better of his own self then he is also expected to know his responsibility towards his society. He is expected to do his responsibility as a human being with dignity and integrity. Man’s understanding of his own responsibility is a crucial point in his life. Living with such many responsibilities towards society is burdensome. How can man ought to live in a way that his responsibility towards society will not cross path with his freedom?
The responsibility of man is always attached to his own freedom. This responsibility includes his capability of actualizing one’s moral action. For as far as the concern of ethics is primary action, a doing rather than a seeing or thinking.] For man to do his task correctly he must reflect his own thoughts before actualizing it into actions. There are many principles made by the society that is available to man as his guide for practical actions in resolving human problems.
The wide horizon of human life is full of challenges as man takes part in any circumstances that his actions are expected to be morally right. To take the path of moral living, man is encouraged to abide by the standard of morality where he also will take part in emphasizing the potential value and goodness of every human being. Dignity and integrity must be always present in his way of living.
When man uses his intellect he can articulate principles and translate it into actions ascribe with a moral sense of uprightness. Principles are sets of fundamental laws. There are many circumstances when man is being confronted with the need for a thorough articulation of what is the most applicable actions and accepted decisions for the demand of moral response. The worst is to follow if man will not use his intellect and will not think morally for his action towards unprecedented circumstances. So in ensuing with moral actions, the principles are very convenient in guiding man’s way of life.
Man is expected to be true to his nature. For man to be true to his nature, it simply suggests that he must know his own nature as a being capable of intellect. As a being capable of reason then he is expected to live a good life. To live a life full of goodness is what man ought to be, for it is the decrees of his reason and the reason of his existence.
Through the use of man’s intelligence the endeavor for discovering moral demands leads him to know what the right thing to do. Upon knowing what is right and wrong, man is capable to perform in harmony with his right reason. Recognizing the moral value that is originated on human nature based on an approach of humanity and reason then man may come across the understanding about why should he be moral.
To be a person living with a moral authenticity, man is expected to be a mature person in which he is challenged and can exceed his way of living into a higher level of existence rather than being just a slave of the rules of society. Man’s moral obligation plays an important role and valuable contributions in human life and that is lessening of committing mistakes in making one’s own decision in the society in the dominion of morality and harmony.
By being capable of internalizing the moral demands of society which are present in any circumstances is a mature person capable of making his rational view and stand for it. The need to be moral is coming from within and not just by any mere extrinsic demand from the society. It is not because what the society tells that does not mean that the society ruled, it is that a moral way of living is in harmony with the standard of society. The just society is always for the sake of its people and not just for its propagated satisfaction.
In this sense, man is ought to be moral not solely because it is an outward moral demand, but it is what it means to be human, that is, an intrinsic moral obligation. Hence, man is ought to live his life as a human being by doing such acts that are in accordance with his right reason. It is in by reason that he can know what is right and wrong and upon knowing it, he may able to act the good.
If man manifests goodness within then it will reflect in his actions. Actions are always the expressions of a person. However, what does “being good” indicate? Is to be good means to do “the good” for the sake of goodness itself? Or it is an act that is not reciprocated?
The manifestation of goodness that is within one’s own self is ought to do good without expecting anything in return. Man should strive to do the good because it is the moral responsibility of a human person to exercise and actualize what is considered good. For man to be good, he must be moral. And to be moral means to do the good for goodness sake.
The importance of one’s intellect is the key for man to be able to do the right thing in accordance with a reasonable idea. Internalizing and actualizing must undergo thorough articulation to avoid the immoral act. Though some act does not need a thorough articulation because common sense can tell of what is good. It is reasonable to comprehend every unprecedented circumstance before taking any necessary actions. For man is endowed with intellect he may foresee a solution based on the given circumstances.
Man may conclude a reasonable action by foreseeing a method. The advantage of having a systematic solution man can avoid or at least lessen the damage that the actions can make. Every individual has its own way of deciding and actualizing its own action. For man to have a moral life he must have a way of life that is appropriate to the moral standard of the society. For man to be humane he must act with a moral principle in life. The principle of man will always be in line with the standard of society. By having principles in life man is reminded that he is to follow that principle and make it a method for his way of living.
The moral decision of man is a result of the constant practice of the method and of the constant use of man’s intellect in confronting unprecedented circumstances. What it means as the constant practice of such a method is through justification. Justification has the goal of making our beliefs consistent and rational. To justify our actions we must be coherent with what is right and doing what is right.
Human life has no reset button and can only live once. Man’s intellectual capacity can comprehend systematically of what is the right thing to do if he is confronted with unanticipated circumstances. He must not carelessly makes any mistakes in his daily living. Every decision of man will always have a result, whether a good one or a negative one. His decisions will always cost something.
As human life that are subjected to moral evaluation then what would be the end of such moral life be? For Aristotle, it proposes “happiness” which all things aim.[footnoteRef:6] With such purpose and mindset that man’s goal is to be happy then it would cultivate the inner goodness of man in doing his own obligation towards not just for his own sake but also for the sake of others. The happiness of others is also the happiness of one’s own. So basically if man’s goal is to be happy then he would certainly do things in accordance with his will. He will do actions with goodness and by engaging himself within the society he will remain true to his own motive and not swayed by any extrinsic idea. The goodness of man that coming from within is the foundation of one’s one value.
For Christians, the moral life is a response to the will of God. Living a moral life is also a sign of glorifying God. When man live his life with dignity and taking care of the creation of the Almighty then he is responding to the call of the Divine. Human beings are expected to act in accordance with its purpose. Man’s purpose in life is shown by its content of reflection and realization. The only being that can provide meaning and purpose to man’s existence is the Divine.
Though man has his own will he simply cannot afford to fall short in committing mistakes in any circumstances. The actions that he will make will always have consequences whether it will be good or bad results. If he will fail to do the right thing then it would be harmful to his well-being. The constant actions of man in committing mistakes will distort the sense of morality. But when he can establish successfully creating a sense of morality then he is also successful in being a man capable of making his own happiness by doing the good.
Man’s authenticity is based solely on his moral action towards others and to society. The articulation of ideas before actualizing can prevent or avoid any unnecessary damage to the person itself or society. Man must use his full potential in articulating and actualizing such action. The use of man’s freedom is what makes a moral life reasonable for he can systematically decide on his actions and make a good judgment based on reason and not by his emotions.
As a man endowed with intellect it is appropriate for me to comprehend every circumstance and not to rush actions that may be regretted later. Choosing and living an authentic way of life is what I dream of, by facing and confronting many unprecedented circumstances I cannot deny that it is sure a hard-fought battle of being truthful and loyal to such demand of the standard of the society. Hence, as a seminarian, I am trying to be faithful to my formation and avoiding doing things that are not helpful in the kind of living that I aspire to be. By recognizing what I ought to do, then in this sense, by choosing to do the good by willing it I become a moral person.
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