If Found on the Level

The closing ritual of the York Rite, in the apprenticeship degree (Grande Oriente de Santa Catarina – GOSC) presents an interesting passage, the VM asks how should Masons meet and act?

The 1st and 2nd V. brothers speak, in the Level, and by the Plumb, the VM responds and leaves in the Square, complementing: So, we must, my brothers, always meet, act and leave.

These statements are, in fact, a philosophical introduction at the end of the work so that we always have a beacon to follow our lives inside and outside Freemasonry, but we must ask ourselves, after all, which elements should be identified as factors that will keep us on the level?

We know that Freemasonry is an institution that seeks to maintain our virtues and is also a school of evolution, for this reason we must always study and understand what standards or levels of ethics and morals should be applied to our life as a Freemason and citizen of the world, thus reflecting our attitudes for the good of all.

Obviously, standards of ethics and morality can change in different periods of history, but we will, in this work, show what is enumerated within speculative Freemasonry and how these elements end up uniting the brothers within this fraternity so that we can continue in human evolution.  

It is evident that such a study develops a philosophical condition where each Mason must know how to apply it in his life, this text is not a manual that must be identified as a condition of strength so that changes occur in each one’s life immediately, but always starting from the desire to change for applicability at different times. 

From the classical period (Greek) to the present day, we have clear notions about what ethics, virtue, morals, and evolution are, so we are going along this work on a journey of information that brings us a philosophical basis that, many times, already it is applied in practice, but in Freemasonry we can study and deepen its theories.  

 

The Four Cardinal Virtues of Freemasonry – Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

When we are invited to enter the august mysteries of Freemasonry, it is because the initiate has seen an ethical and moral value that can and should be worked on, the godfather knows that his godson in the order must show such attitudes before initiation that will guide his life as a Freemason.  

It is not by chance that the initiate is always someone who represents, in general, a potential to be worked, that is why we say that the apprentice must work his rough stone, that is, sharpen its edges, combat its imperfections, and find the polished stone at the heart which is important for the elevation of your inner temple.   

Basic Concept   

Ethics and morals are an emblem that everyone carries, but are such values ​​in keeping with the trend of use within Freemasonry?

Since we were initiated, we have worked hard so that we can increasingly put our tendencies in evidence, the invitation to become a Freemason actually comes from the observation of such elements and over time we are going to deepen, with the help of our brothers, our social base.

An ethical and moral human being is an important condition, but it is no use having a base and not knowing how to apply it with the union of values ​​that guide us, so we use information that gradually deepens and solidifies the foundations for construction of our inner temple.  

The fundamental ethical doctrines are born and developed in different times and societies as answers to the basic problems presented by the relations between men, and by their effective moral behaviour.

– VÁZQUEZ, 2008

For Kant, morality is governed by a system of imperative, it is a categorical action and represents living for a reason, putting into practice everything that is important for our evolution as a human being, outside of this action we are lost or are corrupting our society and us for this reason it is important to combat addictions, which although pleasurable can eliminate our reason.  

 

Immanuel Kant. Stipple engraving by J. Chapman, 1812..
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Also according to Kant, conscience in virtue of morality is an important fact, as it is from this action of conscience that respect for the performance of the laws that will govern us normally arises, even alone or in front of everyone around us in our society, according to the philosopher German, we only have to choose what is important to reason, everything that escapes such reason is seen as dangerous for our formation as a human being.  

Goodwill in ethics does not make the action good for what it promotes, but for the intention of the subject of the action. The subject must act not according to duty, influenced by the circumstances. The subject must act out of duty, obeying the rational command of the moral law.”

– WARDERLEY, 2012, p.137

One of the categorical imperatives listed by Kant is precisely prudence, we must note that such action must be done with a positive or good principle and that is real and approved by all, it would then be the search for happiness, so when we act in a way that we preserves and at the same time we are respecting other elements that surround us, we are acting with prudence and allowing the collective search for the good life, or general happiness.  

The categorical imperative is an obligation, where we do not act for the pursuit of happiness or even to obtain advantages at some point, but actually to guarantee ourselves within a law, whether social or formal, but we are acting for the greater good is guaranteed for the organization of a society, for this reason we must understand that it is not always for an individual good that we act, but for the best of our society.  

This imperative is categorical. It is not concerned with the matter of the action and what must result from it, but with the form and principle from which it itself follows, and what is essentially good in it is the attitude, the result being anything you like. This imperative can be called the morality imperative.

– ROSSI, 2014

Such a perception of morality, according to the Kantian view, is an internal power that moves us, then oaths, laws and external rules end up existing precisely because in the depths of human beings they already understand what is right and how it can be used for a common good.  

Act with Righteousness

Ethics is an element with a universal, theoretical profile that tends to remain, being a value that starts from the individual, can be instituted and changed within an adjustment where the outside (moral) requires that we have our internal training regulated to persist living in our society.  

Morality is a defined action within a culture or by a certain group, it would be a customary principle practiced in a given historical time, ordering values ​​so that we can live in peace with other elements of society, an interesting example on the issue between ethics and moral is the slavery applied by the Greeks, for some it was not ethical to dominate a human being (individual or internal thinking), but as society was formed by such a custom, they ended up accepting and living with a certain situation (morality or permitted custom) seeking a harmony between the two situations.  

The act of acting within an ethics or morals forces us to match our guidelines, the internal (ethics) and the external (moral), makes us reflect and so we seek to act with the so-called righteousness for the good principle of living in peace , Freemasons are recognized as free men and of good customs, we can translate this as being men with a freedom and good ethical performance and who respect the prevailing morals in society.  

 

Plato. Line engraving by L. Vorsterman after Sir P. P. Rubens..
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic emphasizes that only those who are fair are happy, in fact we can understand that by applying ethics and morality we are creating a common sense that we can call justice, but remembering that this must be used within a political process (politics is the art of the common good) showing that in this way we can live in society or within a certain institution without harming the particular and collective integrity.  

The sense of justice is a virtue that must be used to achieve individual and social good, notably when we are deepening in Masonic relations, we understand that we are all equal and fraternal brothers, placing us in an important equality so that everyone is respected and lives in harmony.  

For Aristotle, ethics is a guiding principle of happiness, the soul must really reflect what can be used by each one to transform itself, passions can exist and with this within each brother, a work of great disposition must be applied, trying to change so whatever is reckless, impure, or disorderly to live with other men in a society.  

 

Aristotle. Line engraving by S. Jesi..
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

On the other hand, morals, unlike ethics, do not appear within the nature of each man, but must be understood according to what their collective develops, for example, a brother who did not act in social causes, does not apply charity for an interior thought and individual ethics, but ends up understanding that in Freemasonry there is a morality of helping others and as a result they are also willing to help, changing their ethical values ​​about the moral values ​​that are applied there.  

Conclusion

To finish this work, we will highlight some points concerning which throughout the arguments were informed about ethics and morality, so that we are aware of what is of a personal or interior nature and what comes from the collective or even from external action for the development of a Freemason.  

 

Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The values ​​applied in an ethics resolution are personal, being built along your journey as a man and a citizen, (fidelity, respect, fighting corruption) and are important for each one to become more worthy for their evolution of spirit or mentality , are still values ​​that must be understood according to the needs of each one, that is, they are recognized and put into practice within the order that each one finds in life and performance.  

Morality can and should be understood as a collective construction that allows living in society, we know that such morality can be changed and it is up to each one to understand these principles and thus try to adapt, for example, we can highlight the values ​​of fraternal love, relief and truth, which are the mottos of the York rite, are then acting highlights of the prevailing morality that elevate the human spirit.  

We know that normally, according to Kant, the actions of the human being, the imperatives, are done with the use of reason, not for a particular good or grace, but because that’s how we charge ourselves and with this we are levelling our lives to ensure a minimum of legitimacy in the society that surrounds us with ethical performance and morality serves to affirm what our reason already evidences.   

The Greek ethical and moral orientation allows us to understand that we seek happiness and that the union of the elements forms a sense of justice that is very important for politics in society, so we are becoming better, polishing our rough stone, obtaining foundations for to continue building our inner temple, without ever ceasing to live in harmony with our brothers, in our civil community or privately. 

Since ethics is a science that flourishes with human virtue, it is normal for us to have internal rules, then we will apply these regulations abroad, which is the prevailing morality, for example, Christian morality preaches compassion and love for the neighbour, which are actually exercises in empathy with everyone around us, making us active and consolidated as Freemasons within our conscience and dignity in our relationship with others.   

For this reason, when we apply the phrase and recognize ourselves as free men and of good morals, we are not only replicating a mere cliché, but we are stressing that we have a great formation of ethics (being free to form this regulator internally) and we adopt our entire will the values ​​of morality (using the customs or external orientations received from Freemasonry) in order to create and maintain the level that regulates the Masonic brothers and our fraternity.  

Footnotes
Bibliography

ABBAGNANO, Nicola. Dicionário de filosofia. 4. ed. São Paulo: Martins Fontes. 2000.

AGOSTINI, N. Teologia Moral: O que você precisa viver e saber. 4. ed. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1999.

APEL, Karl-Otto. Estudos de Moral Moderna. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1984.

ARISTÓTELES. Ética a Nicômaco. 3ª ed. [Trad. Mário da Gama Cury.] Brasília: Universidade de Brasília, 1992.

ARISTÓTELES. Metafísica. [Tradução Giovanni Reale] São Paulo: Loyola, 2002.

ARISTÓTELES. Política. São Paulo, SP: Martin Claret, 2007.

BAUMAN, Z. Modernidade Líquida. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 2001.

BAUMAN, Z. O mal-estar da pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 1998.

COMTE-SPONVILLE, André. Pequeno tratado das grandes virtudes. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2001.

DURKHEIM, E. As formas elementares da vida religiosa. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1996 (Texto originalmente publicado em 1912).

DURKHEIM, E. As regras do método sociológico. São Paulo: Edipro, 2012.

DURKHEIM, E. Lições de Sociologia. Traduzido por Mônica Stahel. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2002.

GOMES, Alexandre Travessoni. O fundamento de validade do direito – Kant e Kelsen. 2 ed. Belo Horizonte: Mandamentos, 2004.

GOSC. Ritual de Aprendiz – Rito de YORK / Grande Oriente de Santa Catarina, 2020.

KANT, Immanuel. Fundamentação da Metafísica dos costumes. Trad.: Guido Antônio de Almeida. São Paulo: Barcarolla, 2009.

KANT, Immanuel. Observações sobre o sentimento do belo e do sublime. Trad.: Vinícius de Figueiredo. Campinas, SP: Papirus, 1993.

KANT, Immanuel. Crítica da Razão Prática. Trad. Valério Rohden. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2008.

KANT, Immanuel. Crítica da Razão Pura. 5ª Edição. Trad.: Manuela Pinto e Alexandre Morujão. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2001.

KORTE, Gustavo. Iniciação à Ética. São Paulo: Juarez Oliveira, 1999.

PLATÃO.  Fedro. 19ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Ediouro, 1996. (Diálogos)

PLATÃO.  Górgias. Trad. Manuel de Oliveira Pulquério. Edições 70. Lisboa, 2010.

PLATÃO.  O Banquete. Tradução introdução e notas por José Cavalcante de Souza. 9. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil, 1999.

PLATÃO. A República. 7. ed. Trad. Maria Helena da Rocha Pereira. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1993.

ROSSI, João Paulo. Os imperativos kantianos: sobre a finalidade categórica e ahipotética. 2014. 204 f. Dissertação (Mestrado) – Curso de Filosofia, Filosofia, UniversidadeFederal de São Carlos, São Carlos, 2014. Disponível em: <http://www.sociedadekant.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/STUDIA KANTIANA8.pdf>. Acesso em: 11 de setembro de 2021.

VÁZQUEZ, Adolfo Sanchez. Ética – Rio de Janeiro – Editora Civilização Brasileira – 2008.

WANDERLEY, Patric da Silva. Os Critérios de Avaliação da Moral: Dever e Responsabilidade. REDES, v.10, n.18, p.135-153, jan.2012

Article by: Adriano Viégas Medeiros

Masonic Confederation of Brazil – COMAB. Grande Oriente de Santa Catarina – GOSC A\R\L\S\ LABOR E CONCÓRDIA Nº 146. Lages – 30 de outubro de 2021.

Freemason Companion CIM 10259 ARLS LABOR AND CONCÓRDIA Nº 146. East of Lages-SC. York Rite GOSC/COMAB.

Corresponding member of the AUG. AND RESPONSE REGISTER YES. VIRT. “LUX IN TENEBRIS” 47 – GLOMARON.

Also founding member of the AUG. AND RESPONSE REGISTER YES. VIRT. “LIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE” Nº 103 – Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the State of Pará – GLEPA.

Participant also as a registered corresponding member in the Dom Bosco Membership Circle with registration number 20062501. of Aug. and Resp.

EEst Store and PPes. “Dom Bosco No. 33”, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the Federal District – GLMDF.

The Republic

By: Plato (Author)

Plato’s The Republic is widely acknowledged as the cornerstone of Western philosophy.

Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors, it is an inquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it.

During the conversation other questions are raised: what is goodness; what is reality; what is knowledge?

The Republic also addresses the purpose of education and the role of both women and men as “guardians” of the people.

With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory, Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by “philosopher kings.”

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world.

With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines.

Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

 

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

By: Immanuel Kant (Author)

Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ranks alongside Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics as one of the most profound and influential works in moral philosophy ever written.

In Kant’s own words its aim is to search for and establish the supreme principle of morality, the categorical imperative. The centerpiece of the Groundwork is Kant’s most famous proposition, the Categorical Imperative.

While this is often equated with the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), the Categorical Imperative argues for a more universal set of moral action – for example, if one does not mind being lied to, then lying does not become a problem, according to the Golden Rule, but for Kant, this would be unacceptable as it is a violation of the rational principles of what morals are.

Kant proceeds to look at issues of law, duty, free will and the good will, and autonomy of action.

Kant argues strongly for the need for philosophy to guard against whim, taste and personal desire from becoming normative agents in the way we construct the moral universe.

He argue for objective principles to govern the will, and categorizes these as either hypothetical or categorical. Kant also discusses the formulation of universal law and the way in which rational agents should formulate and view this kind of law.

 

Level Steps: 100 Daily Meditations for Freemasons

By: Jonti Marks (Author)

‘Level Steps:100 Daily Meditations for Freemasons’ is a beautiful and practical book offering insight and inspiration to all Freemasons who are interested in the deeper meaning of the Craft and who wish to make ‘…a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.’

 

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