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Author Topic: Kemetic morals  (Read 4079 times)
sefiru
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« Topic Start: April 03, 2007, 04:06:00 am »

What moral guidelines does the extant AE literature contain, and is it still applicable in today's world? (I'm thinking particularly of the Negative Confessions, but there may be more.) How did the AE people view morality? Was it absolute or situational? How much moral structure should a Reformed Kemetic Religion have?
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Chabas
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« Reply #1: April 03, 2007, 04:46:21 am »

What moral guidelines does the extant AE literature contain, and is it still applicable in today's world? (I'm thinking particularly of the Negative Confessions, but there may be more.) How did the AE people view morality? Was it absolute or situational? How much moral structure should a Reformed Kemetic Religion have?

Ma'at, ma'at, ma'at. Smiley I'm still trying to make my way through Assman's book on the subject, but his writing style makes it a constant struggle.

The basic core of it is about communities. Think "no man is an island". You live in a community and have relationships with the people and Gods in that community. You need to honor and uphold those relationships, to be part of the oil that keeps them running. Darkhawk has a rather nice article here about ma'at and the small ways to live it.

Reading through the negative confessions, I do believe most of them still apply to this day. I do believe, though, that at the core of it are not specific acts or specific rules. At the core is the smooth running of your community. And being the oil between the wheels of the world involves different attitudes towards women, for example, in this day than it would have in those days. I don't think ma'at means rebuilding the world according to the views of, say, the New Kingdom. It means working within this culture to make it be the best it can be.

Also, ma'at isn't just about what you do about your own actions. It's also about your response to others' actions. Assman phrased it along the lines of that someone who does not act ma'at against others forgoes his own rights to ma'at. We do not have to act kindly towards those who upset the workings of ma'at. It's not quite that simple though - there's a balance that needs to be sought between punishment for wrongdoings, and the running of the community. After all, if someone abuses my child, I might want to nail his balls to the nearest public doorpost, and if he no longer has the right to the same considerations of ma'at, that might be my right. The highest concern, however, is not the ma'at of this situation, it is the ma'at of the community as a whole. The community as a whole is far better served by my reporting the man to the proper authorities and letting them deal with him according to the laws of justice.

Also, just like ma'at isn't served by nailing privates to conveniently available chunks of wood, it isn't served by my letting wrongdoings happen. Ma'at, as much as controlling my own actions, means responding to the actions of others, and not standing by idly as, say, someone grabs the bag of the nice old lady next to me. I am responsible for the community I live in, and that goes beyond my own concerns. My concern should not be "how do I get out of this situation with the least hassle?" or "does this cause me any trouble?", but "what can I contribute to the smooth running of this community". There are, however, limits to where I can interfere - the smooth running of today's community does involve a certain amount of respect for the privacy of others, which limits what is or isn't my concern.

--Chabas

Edited to remove words that shouldn't have been there in the first place
« Last Edit: April 03, 2007, 05:03:00 am by Chabas » Logged
Darkhawk
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« Reply #2: April 03, 2007, 12:18:28 pm »

What moral guidelines does the extant AE literature contain, and is it still applicable in today's world? (I'm thinking particularly of the Negative Confessions, but there may be more.) How did the AE people view morality? Was it absolute or situational? How much moral structure should a Reformed Kemetic Religion have?

In addition to the Negative Confessions and similar texts, a major source of moral guidelines is the Wisdom Literature.

Ptahhotep's Maxims:  http://www.humanistictexts.org/ptahhotep.htm
Amenope:  http://www.humanistictexts.org/amenope.htm

Tour Egypt's Wisdom Literature page/list:  http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/wisdom.htm

I do not think that a black and white view of morality is compatible with the workings of ma'at; proper running of the community requires some level of flexibility.  At the same time, the ancients had a very clear view of the world, of right and wrong, and expressed it in a great deal of their surviving literature.  (There is some evidence that some of the wisdom texts were standard copying assignments for scribal students, and thus basically the literacy primer for the educated classes.)
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sefiru
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« Reply #3: April 04, 2007, 02:24:55 am »

In addition to the Negative Confessions and similar texts, a major source of moral guidelines is the Wisdom Literature.

Ptahhotep's Maxims:  http://www.humanistictexts.org/ptahhotep.htm
Amenope:  http://www.humanistictexts.org/amenope.htm

Tour Egypt's Wisdom Literature page/list:  http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/wisdom.htm

I do not think that a black and white view of morality is compatible with the workings of ma'at; proper running of the community requires some level of flexibility.  At the same time, the ancients had a very clear view of the world, of right and wrong, and expressed it in a great deal of their surviving literature.  (There is some evidence that some of the wisdom texts were standard copying assignments for scribal students, and thus basically the literacy primer for the educated classes.)

Woot! Reading! Thanks.

I suppose these issues were, in fact, clearer in ancient cultures than the mutlicultural, individualistic etc. world of today.
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« Reply #4: April 18, 2007, 03:50:37 pm »

It was a pretty multicultural place to be back in the day.
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