ethics (n.) “the science of morals,” c. 1600, plural of Middle English ethik “study of morals”. The word also traces to Ta Ethika, title of Aristotle’s work. Related: Ethicist.
Definition of ethic
1 ethics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation
2 a : a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values—often used in plural but singular or plural in construction
b ethics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group
c : a guiding philosophy
d : a consciousness of moral importance
3 ethics plural : a set of moral issues or aspects (such as rightness)
In philosophy concepts are like clay in the artist’s hands: they take different shapes depending on who has them in its hands. But clay -one has to admit- is always clay. So independently from how it is being modelled,the material keeps certain identity that makes it unique, distinctive and somehow recognisable.
This singular element could also be defined as the “character” of something. That distinctive engraving that creates a kind of guarantee by which recognition becomes possible. Ethics appears in the forge of character in its singular territory. It is precisely there where election and values meet in order to shape character. And it does not matter if ethics is defined as the general research on the goodness (Moore) or the more practical dimension of freedom (Foucault).
The artist is a good example to enter this territory, as he/she attaches his/her character to the artwork. Its singularity speaks through the artwork. But that is not the end of the process. The artwork speaks and it is precisely in the dialogue with the viewer where the singular becomes universal. The singular dimension shows then as a link between the individual and the collective. That is one of the greatest ethical value of art.
The artist is carrier of subjectivity, knowledge, beauty and also value, integrity, reflection and emotion.
Moreover, an art project with ethical value has to take different aspects into consideration without affecting the artistic singular expression of the artist:
- Objectives of the activity (values, justice, beneficience, autonomy)
- Method and procedure (acquisition and use of materials, technique, methodology)
- Value of the activity (not only material value but social value, por example)