The Development Of Morality And Justice

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The development of morality and justice in Mesopotamia and India were brought about by two very different factors. While Mesopotamia’s Code of Hammurabi is a collection of rulings made by the king (The Judgments of Hammurabi, 13), India’s Laws of Manu was anonymously put together and claimed to be the work of Manu (The Laws of Manu, 139). Hammurabi’s laws seem to be in the interest of the general population, because they are relatively fair to both genders and weighted only slightly towards free and upper class people. While no one is sure of the exact reason for India’s caste system, a popular theory is that the Aryans’ wish to distance themselves from the darker skinned people led to the uncompromising division between the castes (The Laws of Manu, 140). The difference in Mesopotamia and India’s government leads to the divergence in morality and justice, where Mesopotamia’s laws served and was for the people and India’s helped separate the different social classes. Mesopotamia had numerous city-states, and each had different sets of laws. However, they all shared the common theme of advancing the common welfare, as well as to prevent tyrannical treatment of the weak (The Judgments of Hammurabi, 13). Although this was explicitly stated in the prologue to Hammurabi’s collection, it is upheld by the laws themselves. Laws 3 and 5 provide for fair judgment, regardless of class (The Judgments of Hammurabi, 14). The importance of these two laws is that they not only provide protection to all, they punish corrupt judges who would aid in despotism. Mesopotamia generally believed that their gods were violent and sent natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes to punish them. Thus, they took religion very seriously; priests had to b... ... middle of paper ... ...d on many different factors, including stories and religions. In India’s case, the religion believed that people were born into their societal rankings and could not move up in their lifetime. The people did their duties in the hopes that in heaven and the next life, they would be in a better position. Those in the lowest class served those in the other three castes, and laws were completed dominated by the upper classes. In Mesopotamia though, the laws were influenced by the ethics of the people and/or rulers, and possibly even the story of Gilgamesh. Due to these factors, the laws of Mesopotamia were fairer to everyone in general, with only slight differences in treatment for women and those in the lower classes. Both defended their laws with religion, but Mesopotamia’s Hammurabi declared that he was chosen by their god of justice, while India’s were set by castes.

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