Ethics come from the Greek word “Ethos” which means character. Ethics is a branch of philosophy which studies the morale behavior in humans and also how human should act. It also involves the definition and the recommendation, of concepts of right and wrong conduct in the society.
Philosophy, being a branch of ethics, is the study of wisdom. Philosophy comes from two Greek words ‘Philos’ and ‘sophia’ which mean love and wisdom respectively. The beginning of ethics is said to be around the time the Greeks intermarried with the Phoenicians. They found out that they shared many forms of virtues and vices. They also differed on several aspects e.g on worshipping God. Therefore, they began examining themselves in terms of good and bad and right and wrong. This led to the realisation of relativism whereby concepts of truth and moral values are related to the groups of people holding them.
When the Greeks colonised the Phoenicians, they did it peacefully. They interracted with them in a good way and even intermarried them as we’ve seen in the previous paragraph. They didn’t colonise them in a brutal and forceful way. This was the earliest form of colonization.
During those early times, a group of people who were known as ‘sophists’ sprang up, and were regarded as wise people. They offered people with advice and consultation especially those who were to be judged. They mostly assisted criminals. They gave their consultations on a fee just like the present lawyers. They said that just people are always losers. For instance, when paying income tax, those who were just would pay more than the unjust on the same amount of income.
Later, there came a man called Socrates. He debated a lot with those who preferred hedonism. Unlike his fellow philosophers, he earned from hard labor. He didn’t charge people for advice as an occupation. Socrates once debated with a hedonist and managed to defeat him. He argued out that good and evil oppose each other the same way as health and disease. He also convinced the hedonist that all needs and desires are painful and that satisfaction of the need or want is pleasure. Socrates also came up with an idea that states should be ruled by those who are philosophical, educated and wanted to bring development and improve the welfare of his subjects. Another one of the popular philosophers was Diogenes, he used to live in a big jar. He used to walk out with a lamp in his hand ‘in search of an honest man’. He also met Alexander the Great.
Despite having these kind of great philosophers, humanity does not seem to progress at all, only technology does. Despite having humanitarian people, we also have those who are evil; and there are many of them. Those of the idea that just people are always losers. Being selfish is an easy way out and piling a lot of wealth for oneself is an ideal act according to many.