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allan
1st December 2002, 23:48
Hello Mr.Amdur and all on this forum,

Somewhere, Mr.Amdur, you published or posted something of your opinions on the basis of ethics in Buddhism during which you cite Emmanuel Levinas. I'm sorry but I can't remember where I saw this. A google search doesn't turn it up. Perhaps you could refresh my memory?

Some of the most interesting material in Duelling for me revolves around the ethical questions that we face as martial artists i.e. people who train in violence. I have never really seen this addressed to any satisfying degree before;many must assume that this is taken in care of in the gestures towards "character-building" which is supposed to be implicit along 'the Way.'

I wonder how many others who peruse this site felt a very strong resonance with Mr.Amdur's immersion into the psychology of violence which he admirably confronts in Dueling ?

Thank you.

Mark Tankosich
3rd December 2002, 03:12
"I wonder how many others who peruse this site felt a very strong resonance with Mr.Amdur's immersion into the psychology of violence which he admirably confronts in Dueling ?"


Count me in.

Best,

Mark

Ellis Amdur
3rd December 2002, 09:28
Emmanuel Levinas was a remarkable philosopher, born in Lithuania and Jewish. He studied with Husserl and then Heidegger in Germany, and came to believe that Heidegger's philosophy of "Being and Time" carried within it the seeds of fascism. Specifically, that Being itself was the basis of existence. His philosophy, very much influenced by his studies of Talmud put ethics as primary. In essence, he postulates that God is not a neutral entity, but one ethical by nature, and that Man/woman, created in God's image, is therefore also ethical in nature. This does NOT mean "nice." It means that even if evil, we are evil because we have willfully turned away from the ethical call, which is created in the vulnerability that the Other presents to us. In simple language (which, although poetic, he rarely used), when we look in another's face, their existance itself is a "command" - Thou shalt not murder me. The ethical call always exists - whether we heed it is another matter.

This, by the way, is not pacifism. Levinas emigrated to France, where he became close to the phenomenologist and existential philosophers. A citizen, he fought in the French Resistance, until captured, and put in a detention camp. Luckily, he was treated as French rather than Jewish and was not sent to a concentration camp.

Unlike Martin Buber, who conceived of dialogue (I-thou) as a symetrical relationship, Levinas' image is assymetrical. In an ethical relationship, my only concern is my responsibility for the other - if I am concerned about his responsibility for me, then my actions are tainted by self-interest, which is egoistic. He also spends considerable time discussing "justice," which is created by conflicting ethical demands.

He is a very challenging read - perhaps the most accesible book is Ethics and Infinity, pub. by Duqesne Press - a long interview.

(Allan, Mark and others - I would happily come back down to earth and discuss issues provoked by my book. In response to the final question, koryu definitely had ethics imbued within them - some very explicitly - but not on the basis of concrete moral proscriptions, the way it is done in the three great monotheistic religions. The downside of this can be that one is free to interpret things as one will - or more specifically, as one's leader expects you to.)

Best

Ellis Amdur

allan
4th December 2002, 19:28
Ellis Amdur wrote:
(sorry, I haven't yet figured out how to use the "quote" function)

"koryu definitely had ethics imbued within them - some very explicitly - but not on the basis of concrete moral proscriptions, the way it is done in the three great monotheistic religions. The downside of this can be that one is free to interpret things as one will - or more specifically, as one's leader expects you to."

This goes along with my own notion of "ethics," which involves personal discernment, reflection, and decision as opposed to "morals" which are something proscriptive, handed-down, not open to much interpretation. (I know that this scheme doesn't really fit with how these words are often used in day to day speech. My scheme may not hold up at all).

Ellis, your statement:

"The downside of this can be that one is free to interpret things as one will - or more specifically, as one's leader expects you to."

shows, I think, the problem of ethics in that they maybe tend towards being a little too free from the point of view of those who want to regulate behaviour or even those who want a guarantee of social stability.

It also shows how "ethics" in a pure sense, coming from personal reflection and concern for the other, can hardly exist in a world where there are "leaders," social expectations and other pressures.

Do you Ellis, or the other people reading this, think that the ethical basis of the different traditions of koryu bujutsu comes largely from Buddhism and Shinto?

Are Buddhism and Shinto based more upon "ethics" or "Morality"?

Thanks also for the explanation on Levinas. I am looking forward to a read of ETHICS AND INFINITY.

Take it easy,

Ellis Amdur
4th December 2002, 19:53
I am anything but an authority here, but I do not recall Shinto as having a strong moral orientation. Shinto imlies a recognition of power, and care regarding purity and pollution. Morality in koryu comes from a combination of Buddhism and neo-Confucianism (which is already imbued with Buddhism).

Best

Ellis Amdur