Ethics is a curious cultural creature. What is ethical for one group may well be immoral for another. Certainly there are some ethical rules which span most groups, at least on the surface. ‘Thou shall not kill’ is almost universal, except for the many exceptions, e.g., it’s all right to kill those who kill, but not embryos… or visa versa.
Clearly, ethics is not an array of rational principled absolutes handed down from on high. If anything, to paraphrase the ‘disclaimer’ at the beginning of chapter 1, “the ethics that can be spoken of is not the constant ethics”. Ethics, like everything else ‘uniquely human’ is essentially an emergent property—a symptom—of more fundamental animal instincts. Ethics arises from the social instinct. Individuals that conform to prescribed behavior norms (ethics) of their group feel a sense of group unity and trust. It is the glue holding a group together.
So instead of squabbling over the merits of various and arbitrary ethical norms, why not look more deeply by seeing life’s manifestations from a symptoms point of view. The beauty of this can be that it allows one to know both the ‘secrets’ and the ‘manifestations’ simultaneously regardless of desire… Okay, that’s not exactly true. Our tendency to see what we want to see means desiring not to desire is still key. I know, I know, don’t hold my breath!