Values are related to the purpose of human life. Throughout the ages, theologians and philosophers have tried to explain the meaning and purpose of existence. Here are some of the most significant ethical theories:
1. Plato. Plato believed that man is free. Thus, man deserves to be punished for the “sins” he freely commits. Happiness is not found in the things that merely serve man’s use (utilitarianism) or in the pleasures of earthly life (hedonism), but in making the soul like to God by the contemplation of the Idea of the God and by the exercise of virtues.
2. Aristotle. Man has threefold nature: vegetal, animal, and rational. Man must realize his nature by cultivating all his natural tendencies. The highest good correspond to the tendency of the soul. But man needs likewise to fulfill his basic biological and sensual needs, guided by temperance. The happiness of man consists in the contemplation of truth made possible by the practice of virtues.
3. St. Thomas Aquinas. The highest good or Summum Bonum consists in “beatific version” of God. No earthly good can fully satisfy human desires. Man, because of his rational appetites of intellect and freewill, can only be completely happy in God Himself. This happiness is possible only with God’s help through the infusion of supernatural grace. This is supernatural happiness, achievable only in the next life.
1.Islamism. Islam is a philosophy of life, a complete system of living, based on the Word of God revealed to Mohammed. Islam teaches that the Greatest Value is one’s surrender to God. This consists in the fulfillment of the Five Pillars:
- Confession of Creed: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet”.
- Prayer brings man in the right relationship with God.
- Observance of the Ramadan.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca.
2. Buddhism. The Greatest Value according to Buddha is the liberation of man from suffering through the abandonment of all egoistic desires. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism are:
1. Life is the root of all sufferings.
2. Suffering is caused by desires.
3. Desires can be eliminated by negating life.
4. Elimination of desires can be achieved by accumulating karma or deeds that eventually free the individual.
3. Utilitarianism. The Greatest value according to Jeremy Bentham, one of its proponents is pleasure. But man, being a sociable animal, must conduct his affairs in a way that would benefit others. Thus, the greatest moral good is that “which gives the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people”. John Stuart defines the greatest good: “By happiness are intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure”.
4. Communism. Communism is based on the teachings of Karl Marx. The Greatest Good is absolute equality. The mission of communism is the production of material wealth by means of collective labor, so that the goods of this world might be enjoyed in a paradise where each would give according to his powers and would receive according to his needs. Communism aims to build a classless society. Until such goal is attained the State shall rule absolutely.
5. Christianism. Christianity is based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. Christ taught that the Greatest Value is love. God is love. “And behold, a certain man came to Him and said, ‘Good Master, what good work shall I do to have eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘Why you do ask me about what is good? One there is who is good and he is God.
Christian morality is essentially based on love which embraces even the enemy.