you are here: > Self > 3. Belief systems and ME
 
3.3
The concept of right and wrong, good and bad
 
  In considering belief systems, all systems of belief make values in some way terms of what is deemed true and correct and what is deemed incorrect and inappropriate.  
  It is therefore important to consider the meanings of the words right and wrong when considering the value structure that underpins any belief system:  
3.3.1 The definition of right  
  Right comes from the latin word rectus meaning base, which itself comes from the word reg = movement in a straight line, extension.  
  Not surprisingly, the first meanings of the word meant just that "straight, not bent, curved or crooked."  
  It wasn't until the early 16th Century that the word had the additional meaning of applying such mathematical concepts to people "of persons or disposition; disposed to do what is just or good; upright; righteous."  
  Later, there were further refinements to additional meanings of the word namely "of actions, conduct, etc; in accordance with what is just or good, equitable, morally fitting."  
  Today, the mathematical origins of the word are generally lost on people, even though we readily accept the name "right angel triangles". Right in common language is seen as interchangeable with correct and even the word true.  
3.3.2 The definition of wrong  
  Wrong comes from Old English and originally meant "unjust, awry".T  
  Unlike the word right, the original meaning of the word wrong was based on the morality of human action, namely " that which is morally unjust, unfair, amiss, or improper; the negation of equity, goodness or rectitude."  
  In opposite to the word right, the word "wrong" acquired its mathematical meaning around the early 16th Century, the same time the word "right" was acquiring its humanistic and moral meaning. By the early 17th Century, the word "wrong" now also meant " Having a crooked or curved course, form or direction; twisted or bent in shape or contour."  
3.3.3 The importance of words that have more than one purpose in different disciplines  
  Consider the emergence of science at the end of the 16th century and the 17th century. The philosophical discoveries as well as mathematical and scientific discoveries could have, without proper alignment present significant challenges to the Aristotle and Neo Platonic world of "a or not a" of the Christian religions.  
  Consider then words that have a consistent meaning across several disciplines of human science. Such words are powerful tools. By having a practical mathematical meaning that aligns to moral meaning, the words "right" and "wrong" by the mid-17th Century provided a unification between philosophy and science, between religion and science. T  
  It is no mystery then that most Westerners have had to face a word of only two choices for three hundred years "right" or "wrong".T  
3.3.4 The definition of ethic  
  The word ethic comes from Ancient Greek and was the title of a major work of the famous philosopher Aristotle around 300 BC.  
  The word originally meant "character, manners; the science of morals."  
  In large part this definition survived unchanged until the late 17th century, when new found confidence in the ability to describe the entire world as a complete reality and to distinguish right from wrong caused a flurry of "enhanced definitions". The definition of ethics at the time was created meaning "the science of human duty in its widest extent, including besides ethics the sciences of law, whether civil, political or international" (1690).  
  Now, by the beginning of the 18th Century, ethics was the science underpinning other sciences of social order, namely civil and political law.  
3.3.5 The definition of moral  
  The word moral originally comes from the ancient latin words moralia "to sing", mor, mos "custom", mores "manners, morals, character".  
  Looking at the latin origins, it makes sense that the rituals of the Roman tribes as they were codified we considered the customs of the tribe and eventually translated into rules for behaviour.  
  It was again Aristotle around 300BC that using the Ancient Greek equivalent to the word morals wrote the work virtus moralis and defined a moral as " an excellence of character or disposition as distinct from intellectual virtue. Moral virtue is occasionally restricted to such virtues as may be attained without the aid of religion."  
  Not surprisingly, the word morals was strongly linked to the concepts of right and wrong by the beginning of the 16th Century, with the definition "Of or pertaining to character or disposition; of or pertaining to the distinction between right and wrong, or good or evil, in relation to actions, volitions or character, ethical."  
  A second definition relating to the "sciences" also appeared at the time namely "Of knowledge, opinions, judgments, etc relating to the nature and application of the distinction between right and wrong" (1500).  
  Now a social framework was clearly in order- on the one hand was right and on the other- wrong.  
3.3.6 The definition of bad  
  The word bad comes from the Old English words baeddel meaning "hermaphrodite" and baedling meaning "sodomite".  
  The definitions of the word essentially began with the concept of "immorality and wickedness". Around the beginning of the 16th Century, the additional definitions of " offensive, disagreeable" were added. Then around the end of the 17th century the definition "incorrect was added. Finally by the end of the 18th century, the word had become a legal term meaning "not valid" .  
3.3.7 The definition of good  
  The word good is derived from the word God The original definition of good meant " bring together, united) e.g. gaderia meaning gather, fitting, suitable.  
  The definitions of good eventually expanded to include:  
 
things; being what they are called or ought to be;
of personal qualities commendable to the person
morally excellent
effectual, thorough, adequate
useful, reliable for a purpose, or efficient in a function, pursuit, creed, etc
   
 
<<Back       Continue>>
 

Copyright © 2010 UCADIA. All rights reserved.