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(From: pernethics – Symmetry and symbolic values)

At a time when morality leaves so much to be desired, this little phrase has had a provocative side. How many times have I heard “…on the contrary, the world needs more ethics! ” And there you have it, the misunderstanding has set in!

Of course we need more ethical sense, but I was referring to the proliferation of personal value systems, be they religious or philosophical. To live together we need values shared by our whole society. Today, our value system is so fragmented that our societies are divided or even incoherent.

For example, to live together on the road, we need a common code of conduct. If everyone wanted to follow their own code, the English driving on the left and the Europeans driving on the right would meet, sooner or later! But not in the most user-friendly way! To survive on the road we need a system of common rules, accepted and respected by all. In the business world, we also need shared values. In science we use the same mathematical language on all five continents. Why should it be any different in human relations? There are values that are common to all human beings; they must be identified, codified and made applicable by the institutions that play a role in the world. A first step has been made with “Fundamental Human Rights”  Now we need to go a step further to identify and codify “Human Duties” or strive towards the search of symmetries as “pernethics” propose.

For centuries Christianity has imposed its value system in Europe and elsewhere. Then, over the years, this system lost its strength and some of its credibility. For example, its conception of the role of women was no longer in line with the aspirations of our society. With ideologies, migrations and trade, new value systems have emerged and the multiplication of these systems makes it increasingly difficult to live together, as there is so much confusion of values.

The benchmarks are lost. The Ideals have given way to short-term interests. We have to survive in a terribly competitive and uncooperative world. The path chosen by part of our society is withdrawal and rejection of the Other while another part thinks differently. Despite everything, tensions and fears are increasing. Obviously too many different ethics kill or stifle the universal ethics that should bring us together and give hope.

                                                                                      Jean-Jacques Pernet

                                                                                      March 5, 2020

Symmetry and symbolic values