Dkrainwater’s Weblog

Creating an Ethical Philosophy Around Positive Hedonistic Practices in Educational Leadership

Posted on: October 19, 2008

The justification of the personal ethical philosophy must now be added to the statement. David Hume (1711-1776) takes the idea of hedonism and compares it to the basic needs of animals. Hume believes that pain as well as pleasure incites an animal into action either for self-preservation or the allure of pleasurable experiences. The experience alone of either sensation does not elicit a single reaction, but the combined sensations and the acts of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain creates circumstances in which the ‘human animal’ will react according to the severity of either pain or pleasure. Hume’s statement takes the humanity out of man and presents the human as an empty vessel which is only filled by the circumstances of the hedonistic lifestyle (Hume, 1888).

Hume’s ideas now solidify the secular aspect of the personal, educational ethics philosophy by creating a balance of both pain and pleasure. The educational leader can make educational decisions satisfying the needs of ethical pursuits that based on an omnipotent being and at the same time know that his or her philosophy depends on both sensations of pain and pleasure. This will incorporate an idea that though the pursuits to obtain knowledge and to gain happiness will have a moral end, the circumstances that arise from that pursuit will have negative connotations that are imperative in the decision made.

A new version of the personal education statement can now be written to include Hume’s ideas. The personal ethical philosophy may now look like this, ‘Education and knowledge brings more opportunities of happiness and well being. Thus the goal of the educational staff and students should be to pursue those educational opportunities to bring them into the state of happiness and well-being. As we advance toward knowledge and happiness, the natural course of outcomes will be morale because it is God’s design for us to be happy and to acquire happiness through knowledge. In the course of this pursuit pain and pleasure, happiness and sorrow, and success failure will arise and with each failure, the pursuit toward positive aspects of our educational decisions must be maintained.’

Epicurus, Hume, More, and Erasmus strived to keep the hedonistic, psychological state of awareness and being in scope by both stating the need for a human to follow pleasure and at the same time finding that pleasure and receiving morale justification at the end. Through the use of secular and religious reasoning, these philosophers have presented the case that man can indeed seek pleasure, avoid pain, and make morale decisions at the same time. To separate from the idea that pleasure is carnal sin; the ethical hedonist can envision pleasure as a sense of physical and mental well being. Material items for pleasure or excessive indulgences of the flesh should be recognized by the ethical hedonist as things that are not apart of his or her educational philosophy.

The educational leader now has a complete ethical philosophy in which to base his or her decisions. The leader has a goal, to obtain happiness, well being, and ethical pleasure, and a path dictated by both religious and secular beliefs. This new perspective will dictate educational decisions by the confidence the educational leader has about the end result of that decision. The leader will know that with the desire for knowledge and education, a better life will be obtained in the future that will have less pain and more pleasure through the natural course of education and the opportunities that it presents. The education leader will make decisions based on this idea and will know that even though there is pain, sorrow, and failure associated with the decision, they will be over shadowed by the result of more pleasure than pain. The leader will feel good about the decision because it will be based on the idea that the school as a collective spirit of both staff and students will move toward a higher state of being and standard of living by following the educational decisions that promote knowledge.

Don Rainwater has written many articles about ethics in both the business and educational realm. For more of his views, books, products, and websites, please visit http://www.dkrainwater.com

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