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Should the world perish that justice be done?

#40: Nov. - Dec. 2007 (Non-Fiction)
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MadArchitect
The Pope of Literature
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The two quotations that follow are from the essay "Some Questions of Moral Philosophy":
Arendt wrote:... to establish life as the highest good is actually, so far as ethics are concerned, question-begging, since all ethics, Christian or non-Christian, presuppose that life is not the highest good for mortal men and that there is always more at stake in life than the sustenance and procreation of individual living organisms. That which is at stake may be very different; it may be greatness and fame as in pre-Socratic Greece; it may be the permanence of the city as in Roman virtue; it may be the health of the soul in the hereafter; it may be freedom or justice, or many more such things.
Before we get to the second quote, a few questions about the first:
Do you think that's an accurate description of the traditional relationship between life and morality? Or is morality ultimately concerned with the continuation and survival of life?
Do you think it would be better to establish a morality that was premised on life as the highest good?


Moving on...
Arendt wrote:... one could indeed argue that Life, the survival of the world and the human species, are the highest good. But this would mean no more than that any ethics or morality would simply cease to exist. And in principle this thought was anticipated by the old Latin question: Fiat justitia, pereat mundus (Should the world perish that justice be done?), and the question was answered by Kant: "If justice perishes, human life on earth has lost its meaning."
Some more questions:
If Arendt is right, and always acting so as to support life ultimately negates morality altogether, are we better off without morality?
How would you answer "the old Latin question?"
Do you agree with Kant that a life without justice is meaningless?
If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country, America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed. -- Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus"
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