Morality and ethics

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In Ancient Egypt, the foundation upon which ethical values rest is the principle of maat, a concept that embraces what we would call justice but which is much broader, signifying the divine order of the cosmos established at creation. It is personified as the goddess Maat, held to be the daughter of the creator, the sun god Ra. Maat's role in creation is expressed in chapter 80 of the Coffin Texts (c. 2000 BC) where Tefnut, the daughter of Atum is identified with maat, the principle of cosmic order, who, together with Shu, the principle of cosmic 'life', fills the universe (Faulkner 1973:83-7; Junge 2003: 87-8). Maat is, therefore, one of the fundamental principles of the cosmos, present from the beginning, like the personification of Wisdom in the later Biblical tradition (Wisdom of Solomon 7,22; 7,25; 8,4; 9,9). This concept of creation and the role of maat has also been likened to that found in Plato's Timaeus (30a-b), where the creator demiurge forms a cosmos governed by reason by replacing disorder with order (Junge 2003: 88).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Egyptian world
EditorsToby Wilkinson
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780415427265
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameThe Routledge worlds


  • Ancient Egypt religion ethics


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