We Are Moral Animals

“I had the privilege of studying with some of the greatest philosophers of our time, yet I learned more about morality in my years as a congregational rabbi than I did at Oxford and Cambridge, and I did so by conducting funerals. As a young Rabbi in an ageing congregation, I often did not know the deceased personally, so I had to ask relatives and friends what they were like and what they would be remembered for. No one ever spoke about the clothes they wore or the cars they drove, the homes they lived in or the holidays they took. They spoke about their role in their family, their place in the congregation and its activities, the good deeds they did, the causes they supported, the voluntary work they undertook, and the people they helped. It is not what we do for ourselves but what we give to others that is our epitaph and that ultimately floods life with meaning. We are moral animals.”

Morality, p. 315