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Thinking comparatively, how might we analyze Abraham’s binding and near murder of Isaac in light of Medea’s violent slaughter of her children? Is either parent justified in his/her actions toward his/her respective children? Why or why not?

                        Ethics Assignment

Question One

Thinking comparatively, how might we analyze Abraham’s binding and near murder of Isaac in light of Medea’s violent slaughter of her children? Is either parent justified in his/her actions toward his/her respective children? Why or why not?

Violence against children is wrong and it can never be justified under any circumstances. Both Abraham and Medea were wrong and in justified in their violent actions against their children no matter their reasons. The children were innocent and did not deserve to be put through the violence that they experienced. The parents are always given the responsibility of taking care of their children at all times, in this case Medea and Abraham chose to go against the human law of protecting children. They made a decision of listening to a third party, that advised them to commit violence against their innocent children. In the case of Abraham, he was instructed by God to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there: as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you’ (Genesis 22: 2). Abraham did not take time to think about the instructions and how they contradicted his role of protecting his children as a parent. He did not see his actions as an act of violation against his son Isaac but rather a show case of devotion to his God. As for Medea, she was driven to murder her own children by the urge for revenge against her husband that was leaving her to marry another woman. It is good to note that Jason, Medea’s husband was not unfaithful to her and he wanted to get a divorce so that he could remarry. Medea was not ready to accept the separation; her main focus was on her sadness and desperation especially after she was banished from her home. She felt that she had no purpose in life and she forgot that she had a responsibility of taking care of her children and protecting them at all times. There are those that may argue that the actions of Medea were important because they helped bring the attention of the Corinthians to the issue of patriarchy. However the fact still remain that what Medea did was wrong and it was an injustice towards her innocent children. Both Medea and Abraham can best be described as unjust parents because of their violent actions towards their children. They may have had their reasons, but the fact still remains they defied their role of being loving and protective parents to their children.

Question Two

A friend of yours has recently finished reading Genesis and remarks that God is often the perpetrator of the injustices found therein. How would you “defend God”? Cite specific stories from Genesis, as well as lecture notes and/or secondary sources that you read in your course sections to support your argument.

Most of God’s actions may be perceived to be unjust given the effects that they have on the victims. However, everything that God does have a reason and it acts as a lesson for all humanity to understand concepts of life and how they should live righteously. A good illustration of this fact is with the story of Cain and Abel; it is evident that God always favored the offerings that were given by Abel than those offered by Cain. This may be perceived to be unjust; however it is a lesson about the arbitrariness of birth. Through this story, God helps to bring an understanding to the world that people are different and they have different paths in life.

There are those like in the case of Abel who are lucky and find themselves in better situations, not because they work harder than other but all because they are favored. There are those others like in the case of Cain who are not lucky and find themselves entangled in jealous feelings that lead them to commit crimes. Cain out of jealousy killed his brother Abel and it led him to be banished to live a life of misery (Genesis 4: 8-12). God may have been unjust in favoring Abel over Cain, but this was all so that He can teach about the best way to handle arbitrariness of life and educate on the negative effects of human jealousy.

In the story of Noah in Genesis (6-8), God punishes everyone because of the wicked ways of the people. God does not choose between the guilty and the innocent; He punishes even children because of the sins of their parents. This may be perceived to be unjust, but God is just trying to urge people to take of themselves and to also ensure that the society around them is acting in an ethical manner. People have a responsibility of acting ethically at all times and this includes guiding every member of the society to act in an ethical manner. God in punishing the innocent and the guilty illustrates that an individual that stands to watch other people engaging in unethical activities are just as guilty as the perpetrators. In punishing the children as a consequence of their parent’s sins, God demonstrates the importance of fraternity in human life. It helps to educate people that when they engage in unethical activities, they punish their children because they force them to suffer from their immoral activities. Everything that God whether it is just or perceived to be unjust is all for the good of humanity.

Question Three

In the trial of Jesus, the head priest Caiaphas reportedly says, “[I]t is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed” (John 11:50). What does Caiaphas mean in the context of Jesus’ trial? Would Abraham agree with this statement? Would Rambert? Why or why not?

Caiaphas through his statement basically meant that Jesus was a threat to the Judean autonomy because he had the power to provoke the Romans. Jesus was in this case perceived as a risk for the Jewish culture being their leader and so getting rid of him meant that the rest of the Jews were safe from destruction. Caiaphas in this case saw it best to kill Jesus the leader of the Jews instead of destroying the whole Jewish society.

 Abraham would not really agree with the mindset of Caiaphas because he believed that a society has same beliefs and one individual should not as a scapegoat for the whole society. A good illustration of this is when Abraham requested his wife to lie to Pharaoh that she was his sister to save him from getting killed (Genesis 12:10). This lie allowed Abraham to live in the house of Pharaoh where he was provided with livestock and slaves. However when God rained his punishment, the whole household of Pharaoh suffered from the plagues without any exceptions (Genesis 12:17). This story helps to illustrate that Abraham did not belief in one man dying for the sake of others like Caiaphas dictates. Abraham evaded death by lying about his wife Sarah and this led the whole of Egypt to be destroyed by God.

Rambert a character from ‘The Plague’ by Camus would not agree with the beliefs of Caiaphas on sacrificing one man to save the whole society. At the beginning of the story, Rambert did not really believe in sacrificing one man for the sake of others, he tells Doctor Rieux, ‘You'll soon be talking about the interests of the general public. But public welfare is merely the sum total of the private welfare of each of us’ (Camus, p 42). This statement by Rambert reveals that he believes that the well-being of a society is based on the well-being of every individual and this means that hurting one individual is hurting the whole society. His belief is further evidenced at the end of the novel when he refused to save himself and leave the city to avoid contracting the plague and to reunite with his love in Paris, he illustrates that ‘This business is everybody's business’ (Camus, 101). Rambert believes in people sticking together even in calamities and hence his sacrifice to stay in the city even though it meant him risking getting infected with the plague.

Question Four

“I was attached to this city by the god—though it seems a ridiculous thing to say—as upon a great and noble horse which was somewhat sluggish because of its size and needed to be stirred up by a kind of gadfly. It is to fulfill some such function that I believe the god has placed me in the city. I never cease to rouse each and everyone one of you, to persuade and reproach you all day long and everywhere I find myself in your company” (Plato 30e).

A gadfly is a fly that bites livestock and sometimes people, annoying them through its bites. Why does Socrates liken himself to a gadfly in ancient Athens? What is it that he believes is his mission to fulfill in Athens? What does this say about Socrates’ notion of the good life?

Socrates likens himself to a gadfly because he believes that his role in Athens was to bring the truth to the people about their ignorance in regard to the knowledge that they believed to possess. Socrates in his metaphor believes that Athens was great and noble and that is why he refers to it as “great and noble horse”, it was however not developing because of its ignorance in regard to the knowledge that it possessed. Athens had great poets, artisans and politicians, an exemplification of the capacity of greatness and knowledge that Athens had. The people of Athens believed that they were powerful because of their knowledge and this caused them to have pride. They disregarded other people like Socrates who came to challenge their knowledge because they believed that they had the answers to everything. However there are limits to knowledge and this is what the people of Athens failed to understand. The people of Athens did not give themselves room to acquire more knowledge by acknowledging that they do not understand everything.

Socrates believed that Athens is asleep and needed to be awakened by him and that is why he defines himself as a gadfly; he says ‘perhaps you may be vexed, like the drowsy when they are awakened’ (Plato, p 14). One of the main missions of Socrates in Athens was to try and help the people of Athens understand that there was a limit to their knowledge and they needed to allow themselves learn more. The Athenians knew many things, but they ignored the fact that all they knew was not everything there is to know. Socrates believes that a good life is one where one is ready to question the limits of his knowledge and accept that they do not know everything.

An individual that believes that they understand everything lives a bad life because they do not create room to learn new things. Such individuals get stuck in their outdated knowledge and hence do not develop, this is what Socrates tries to avoid in Athens. Socrates believed that Athens would be left behind in development if the people did not acknowledge the need for them to acquire more knowledge to add to what they already know. He illustrates that if Athens do not acknowledge him, then they would remain undeveloped, he says ‘Then you would spend the rest of your lives asleep’ (Plato, 14). Socrates agrees with the saying in philosophy that illustrates that wisdom is acknowledging that you do not know.



















Works Cited

Camus, Albert, and Tony Judt. The Plague. , 2013. Print.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2012. Print.  

Plato. Symposium and the Death of Socrates. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Edition

            Limited, 1997. Print.

1992 Words  7 Pages
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