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Chapter 17.
Part III. Samjae

<previous text>
  Questioning what is Right and Wrong  

   

"Is it not true that no distinction leads to abandonment?"
"I just said you should overcome distinction."

 


A distinctive life makes for distinctive right and wrong. It is vital that as a Taekwondo-Een you be a sound judge of what is right and what is wrong. This will determine whether you use Taekwondo as a lethal weapon or as nourishment to life. As previously stated, far from being a skill to save man, Taekwondo is a skill to subdue and kill man. Only under extremely controlled use can it realize its full potential - to contribute to society and offer a positive and meaningful life.

There are times when you may be momentarily overwhelmed by the temptation to use your lethal techniques without reflection. At times conditions may cause you to explode with an impulsive anger. You can overcome such dangers only through rigorous training to fortify your character. Therefore, correct Taekwondo training ought to include the development of good character along with fighting skills. This is why from ancient times the masters never instructed those whose characters were not sound.

Generally speaking, seriousness is essential in developing your character. Thus, TAEKWONDO, which demands character development, forces you to be serious. Who would not be serious when contemplating skills meant to kill? In this way, the morality and value of Taekwondo can never be obtained through the denial of Taekwondo's inherently violent nature. Rather, you obtain this morality only after you have recognized Taekwondo's violent and dangerous nature. This also teaches you care and temperance.

An old proverb tells us that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. However, the Taekwondo-Een never constructs himself with his fist, but with an ethical duty towards justice. He then uses his weapon in the service of this duty, and so he will never be destroyed by his weapon. Then, where can you find the ethical "oughtness" that supports justice? Is there such an objective standard for judgment, distinct of what is right and what is wrong? Yes, there is.

It stands with no shape and no substance on the boundary between man and nature: "respect what each man wants to do equally". It is natural, both objective and subjective, and it is a matter of choice. The Saint King named the substance of ethical "oughtness" "benefiting everyone widely ()", for ethics depends on man and everyone is deserving of respect.20)

Thus, the correct Taekwondo-Een, who considers man of the greatest importance, does not employ Taekwondo to harm others but only to destroy the bad in them. This implies a harmony of ethics and TAEKWONDO. Therefore, if a bad man cannot arise after being felled by a Taekwondo-Een it is not because TAEKWONDO attempted to kill him but rather because he could not live without the bad in himself. Every man is deserving of help, but in this case there is nothing one can do to help. This perhaps is an example of Taekwondo's only limitation.


<footnote>
20) I am not speaking here of ethics. To speak more precisely, I refer to the objective criterion of morality, the ultimate foundation of morality. A brief historical background to this question may help clarify this. Many philosophers have sought to trace morality's origins and in so doing to establish morality on a firm foundation. They attempted to explain the philosophical foundations in describing the world. Their explanations went something like: our world is like this, so we should live in this way. But other philosophers recognized the fallacy underlying such reasoning. One philosopher, G.E. Moore, termed it a "naturalistic fallacy", and argued that any conclusion on the nature of "oughtness" must have at least one proposition of "oughtness" as its premise. It other words, you cannot conclude "one ought to act in this way" from simply "the world is like this". From that time, many philosophers began to suspect whether ethics could ever be a science, or even a meaningful philosophy, and relativism overwhelmed ethics. Other scholars investigated emotions as the foundation of ethics, for they believed ethics could not be established on any rational foundation. I have also investigated the objective foundations of ethics to conquer relativism, and I have found my answer. Of course, it is a logical one. As it is logical and abstract, it would be boring to explain it here. In any case, the footnoted text refers to the logical, and so objective foundation, of ethics; the borderline between the humanistic and the factual. (I apologize that these concepts may be difficult for those with no interest in scholastic philosophy. But you can see that the text has scholastic links, so it may prove worth reading and thinking about further.)

 

 

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