The Influences of Social Force on Ethical Standards in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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The Influences of Social Force on Ethical Standards William Shakespeare, a British poet and playwright, describes in his play Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The author thought that there is no such a thing like an absolute ethical standard, and the ethical standards are set by human beings. Then, how do people judge whether a person is ethically right or wrong? People measure the person’s behavior, based on social norms and legal obligations that the society holds. Then, what is the origin of ethical standards that the society requires today? Referring to his book, “Convention: A Philosophical Study,” David Lewis, a former professor in the Department of Philosophy at Princeton University, defines the social norms: Since certain points of view construct any forms of conformity, it tends to be constituted as a discipline because people are in favor of following the rules with authority that others also follow. It is mainly because the human beings have been brainwashed in a way to believe that if they have a rule, they have to follow it. Even though the order or rule does not correspond to one’s free will, he or she is likely to follow the rule because being obedient makes them feel comfortable. (Fromm 685-686) People with authority in the past might take advantage of this human nature. They set the rules where they could benefit and protect themselves, and brainwashed the citizens to think that properly obeying the rules will bring about the national peace and prosperity. The rules, that were used to control innocent citizens with human nature of obedience, have implicitly leaked into ethical standards in the contemporary society because people became accustomed to those rules for a long t... ... middle of paper ... ...o this obedient human nature, the chances of development might have been eliminated. Almost all people in this era may accept today’s social structure. However, citizens in ancient Rome and the French kingdom adapted themselves in their society as well. Most of them merely denied the fact their social structure is totally distorted, by being blindly obedient. Likewise, if this nature of obedience is recommended over and over, people lose the chance of development like French revolution. There is a possibility that People in contemporary society do not realize their own social structure is distorted in a sense. It is true that obedience often plays a positive role in establishing consensus and harmony. However, blindly obeying ethical standards is not a solely positive solution, since the residues of past leaked into the ethical standard and influence negatively.

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