Here is a somewhat corrected version of my reply to Terry.

Best, S

I have little place for ethics in such a system as I have. I see ethics as
secondary to the willed application of values to the making of decisions.
To me the question is what are the ontological values. My pragmatic answer
came in the 1970s when a colleague and I taught a group of teenagers the
Gospel of Mark (the text of which I had turned into songs) and saw the
actual results of this process in events in their lives and those related
to them. I concluded that the ontological values can be described by the
words tolerance, democracy, helpfulness and that the overarching value in
which these rest is non-idolatry. I feel these are a reasonable
approximation of the active, accessible realities that - when activated by
individual will - create history. Insofar as history is a vale of tears it
is because we do not honor these values. Non-idolatry incidentally is the
basis of scientific method IMO. "The good" and "justice" are descriptions
of the goals of living, but the values I have named can be explicitly
willed by the individual. Insofar as they are understood and willed
together, they create a somewhat iconoclastic sort who is pragmatic and at
the same time actively promoting tolerance, democracy and helpfulness. All
of the movers of history on the just and good side have cleaved to these
values. Since individuals do possess will and this the freedom to embrace
these values, they can be spread by ... identifying them and activated in a
process that certainly can include reason but also involves what we call
passion or commitment or conscience or even impulse. When I resigned from
my fraternity at Williams in 1958 it was the result of a triad 1. My
experience of racial unity 2. The resistance of St. Anthony Hall to
considering an applicant from Jamaica and 3. My resignation when I was
told, If I believed "that", I did not belong there. This helped set off a
train of events which led to the removal of fraternities from Williams.
Such an event resides in the realm of willed values not ethics. Ethics
would be the consideration of what course of action would yield up whatever
one designated as the goal of ethics - the good, justice. In other words,
ethics is secondary to the exercise of willed values which is essentially
impulsive. It is a corrective exercise.
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