So, what should we discuss? I've got a suggestion: lets discuss noted Pagan philosopher and author Brendan Myers' criticisms of the Wiccan Rede.
Myers' critique is based on his contention that the ethical stance of the Wiccan Rede amounts to what he calls "utilitarianism". In my opinion, Myers is wrong both about what the Wiccan Rede actually means, and about the nature of genuine Utilitarianism.
In a follow-up post to come soon I'll say more about the true philosophical import of "an it harm none", but for now here is Myers in his own words from a discussion he initiated in March of 2010 at MysticWicks on "Alternatives to the Wiccan Rede" (March 4, 2010) (scroll down for more links):
As some of you may know, I'm not a big fan of the Wiccan Rede. I see it as too utilitarian: this is a problem because some questions of right and wrong have nothing to do with benefit and harm. I also see it as too 'negative': it tells us what we should not do, but does not offer positive alternatives. It's an ethic of freedom, which is obviously a good thing, but the Rede doesn't teach anything about what our freedom is for.Other relevant links (writings on ethics by Brendan Myers available online):
My own preferred alternative is a system of heroic honour and classical civic virtue. But this is perhaps not the only alternative.
Anyone else out there find themselves unsatisfied with the Wiccan Rede? What alternatives do you prefer?
Last edited by BrendanMyers; March 4th, 2010 at 09:38 PM.
- "Replying to Critics of 'Thinking Shall Replace Killing'" (April 2011)
- Thinking Shall Replace Killing (Feb. 2011)
- A community statement on religious sexual abuse (Although this was a collective effort, both the original and final drafts were by Myers. May 2010)
- Ethics & Values in Druidry (from the website of the The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, ~2009?)
- Selfless actions and Pagan ethics (2009)
- How Beautiful Are They— Some thoughts on Ethics in Celtic and European Mythology (The Ninth Mount Haemus Lecture of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, 2008)
- Wild Hunt interview (2008)
- Announcing The First Pagan Sovereign State! (humorous piece, published in Witches Voice 2005)
Other (more or less) related posts on Pagan Ethics (with a special emphasis on Socratic ethics) from this blog:
- Wicca and ancient philosophy (Plato, the Stoics, and the Wiccan Rede)
- Wicca and ancient philosophy, Part Two
- The varieties of sceptical thought (five part series)
- "Socrates of all mortals is wisest."
- The religion of Socrates
- "Those that are most stubborn and unbending She assails...." (on Plato's Republic, the Goddess Fortune, Pagan history, and related subjects)
- Paganism has always been a magical religion (on Eros and Ethics)
- Socrates: still making people crazy after all these years
- "an inescapable network of mutuality"
- Thomas Taylor on the religion of Socrates