Monday, August 22, 2005


It has often been observed that ancient Greek religion might present you with two truly conflicting moral imperatives. In other words, it might be that there is no correct moral choice. You can see how a religion with many gods would help foster such situations. Aphrodite says do A. Hera says do non-A. What's a pious pagan to do?

I think that's part of the appeal of monotheism: One God, one divine will, one correct choice! It may not be easy to find the correct way out of an apparent moral quandary, but a single supreme lawgiver is seen as creating non-contradictory laws, even if he moves in mysterious ways.

What are the odds
That separate gods
Will all agree
On a single decree?

Anyway, I was thinking today that this is tangentially related to the secular question: does your life have a singular purpose or value, or does it just have a set of sometimes contradictory purposes and values? Ayn Rand says your overriding value is your life and your overriding purpose is your happiness. Some complain that you just don't need overriding values or purposes, that you can get by with a variety of goals. But this leads you to the question of how you choose when your various goals have a conflict, which reminds me somehow of the poor pagan Greek with a set of conflicting choices and no way to resolve them.

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