Ethics: Moral Principles in Ancient Societies

2328 Words10 Pages
Ethics are made up of moral rules. You can think of these rules as "common law". Different societies and cultures have different sets of moral codes. Just like children, cultures are exposed to different stimulus that produces different personality, such as morals. Over time a stimulus may affect a segment of the population in such a dramatic way that they alter as a society their moral make. “The nature and structure of belief systems is important from the perspective of an informational theorist because beliefs are thought to provide the cognitive foundation of an attitude. In order to change an attitude, then, it is presumably necessary to modify the information on which that attitude rests. It is generally necessary, therefore, to change a person's beliefs, eliminate old beliefs or introduce new beliefs." (Richard Petty) The unfolding of time brings changes and transitions to societies. These changes can often be reflected in the writing produced during past historical epochs. In this case, we will see how these writings allow us to discern the different perspectives on ethics and change over the course of time. In some respects the human condition changes as time passes; on other levels it remains the same. The following documents will be summarized, analyzed, and compared to see the changes that have occurred pertaining to the theme of ethics: The Book of the Dead, the Book of Exodus, and the Sermon on the Mount. Book of the Dead (ca. 16 century B.C.E.) The Book of the Dead consists of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person's journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife. The texts and images of the Book of the Dead were magical as well as religious. Magic was a legitimate activity as was praying to the gods, even when the magic was aimed at controlling the gods themselves. Indeed, there was little distinction for the
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