Ethical Empowerment

Virtue Beyond the Paradigms

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
408 Pages
Reviewed on 01/19/2015
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Author Biography

Arthur D. Schwartz is a lifelong student of philosophy, and director of Integral Hypnosis, a hypnotherapy and philosophical counseling practice located in Newton, MA USA. Six years of research and seven years of writing have resulted in the book, Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms. In Ethical Empowerment, an ethical theory is developed that is based upon a view that beliefs need to be challenged with opposing perspectives, and on a philosophical conception of love as the underlying principle of morality. The philosophical and practical dimensions of this theory are then entertained. Many social, economic, political and intellectual issues are explored from this vantage. Additional works are forthcoming.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Suzanne Cowles for Readers' Favorite

Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms by Arthur D. Schwartz is a rich cacophony of philosophy examined through the eyes of real-world social context. Divided into two easy to read parts, Schwartz defines the principles of ethics and morality to promote greater wisdom, empowerment and destiny. Some of those key concepts are: virtue, the truth paradox, reality vs actuality, self-interest vs self-correction, romantic vs universal love and the elements of ethics. Along with important principles are examples of philosophical theories by well-known people such as Nietzsche, Ann Rand, Buddha, Blaise Pascal, Tesla and Foucault in order to provide a diversity of ethical perspective. Written in an academic style, this work offers an unbiased opinion of the subjections of right and wrong, but clearly promotes love as the solution to all human conflict.

The second part of the book focuses on how ethical principles can be applied to everyday life, social conundrums, religious dogma, fringe science, the legal system and the economy. Moreover, this is where it gets really interesting. Time travel, the soul, taxes, politics, a New World Order, Utopia, inventions, welfare, abortion, the Middle East, food choices, rights to information, how history replays itself, conspiracy theories, and whether God exists are debated from a moral perspective. These reflections offer clarity to jump start freedom from conformism, clear confusion of hypnotic thinking and create potential life value. Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms by Arthur D. Schwartz offers enlightenment for conservatives, liberals and progressives to find the moral courage to be different and live in harmony with the Universe.

Nandita Keshavan

Ethical Empowerment by Arthur D. Schwartz is an interesting book on the philosophy and sociology of ethics which explores a range of themes. At the start of the book, what is expressed beautifully is the writer’s conclusion that all ethical sentiments in their purest essence are in fact a product of love. Schwartz returns to this point in several ways and explains in further detail why ethical empowerment promotes good values and encourages greater love for self and for others. He also illustrates a role for ethical empowerment as a collective cohesive force and also as an important feature of a balanced individual.

Schwartz is robust in his exploration of philosophical ideas and terms. There is a natural momentum to the narrative and I admire his probing and candid approach to dealing with the ideas of famous philosophers. At several points, there are references to Christian aphorisms which beautifully express the author’s sentiments. Although the author does not accept a particular faith as being authoritative, his conclusions regarding the importance of love in ethics form a faith in itself which is supported by empirical reasoning. In this sense, he has taken a common approach in many religions – which is that of spreading the message of universal love and illustrating its power through various stories.

Thus, religious readers may be gratified to see an alternative non-religious approach to the philosophy of ethics as taken by Schwartz, and would be pleased to find that several of his conclusions are also found in major religious traditions. Also, non-religious readers are likely to find his attempt to break down the rigidity and pretentiousness of classical philosophy admirable and his conclusions regarding the role of love in ethical empowerment justified and elegant.

A salient merit of the book is its attempt to convince the reader that simple truths are often more effective than complex logical arguments and that the harmony of logic and emotion is a great foundation to ethical empowerment. The book attempts to explore ethics without any loyalty to a specific religion or faith, suggesting that humanity would find it easier to fully embrace ethical empowerment by overcoming barriers and pre-conceptions.

Jane Allen Petrick

Ethics is the study of morality, and morality encompasses our standards of right and wrong. These standards are usually presented as a priori principles, the Ten Commandments for example, or as a posteriori paradigms, for example Aesop's Fables. In Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms, Arthur D. Schwartz argues that neither paradigms nor principles can be a sustaining motivating force for ethical behavior. The only enduring ethical power is love.

But this is not just any kind of love. In Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms, Schwartz, hypnotherapist, life-long student of philosophy and director of the Integral Hypnosis Center in Massachusetts, argues that neither self-centered love nor totally self-sacrificial love are capable of generating pure good: "Any moral perspective that is purely other-regarding or purely self-regarding is headed down a slippery slope without exit."

Rather, what is required is the "dynamic dualism" of the interests of the self and the interests of the other. This concept is captured in the second of the two great commandments in the Bible, often referred to as The Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Schwartz astutely points out, however, for this dynamic, dualistic principle to produce pure good fails without humble acceptance and love of the self: "We must come to grips with the lack of compassion for the self."

Even though his writing in Part II of this two-part book is much more accessible, to a great extent Schwartz's comments, well-grounded in philosophical principles and processes, carry the most meaning for others well-grounded in these concepts. However, if you enjoyed Aristotle's Children (and, like me, find yourself rereading parts of it over and over again), then you will love Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms.