Ethics and Selfhood
Alterity and the Phenomenology of Obligation
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: State University of New York Press
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Some of the chapters appearing in this volume are reworked versions of previously published articles. Acknowledgment is made to the following publishing houses, periodicals and persons for their kind permission to republish all or part of the following articles: ...
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The experience of the past century presents a remarkable feature. Its course was punctuated by attempts to eliminate entire populations. Given this history, the very least we can ask from an ethics is that it guard against the moral collapse that accompanies genocide. This seems like a relatively straightforward demand. ...
1. Selfhood and Certainty
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It has long been a commonplace that while modern philosophers have excelled in the more abstract branches of their discipline, they still fail to come up to the standards of the Greeks when it comes to formulating a coherent theory of ethics. The difficulty does not involve their skills at argument or the subtlety ...
2. Empathy and Self-Presence
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The division between the sciences and the humanities that begins with Descartes is actually one of two different types of understanding. To an extent far beyond what its founders could conceive, the understanding fostered by the sciences is global. Scientists all over the world share their results, collaborate, ..
3. The Divided Self: A Phenomenological History of Ethics
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For Plato the duality of our selfhood is one of appetite and reason. The self that is determined by appetite takes pleasure as the good. The self determined by reason chooses pleasure only insofar as it leads to the good (Plato 1971, 105; Gorgias 500a). For this rationally directed self, to know the good is to do it. ...
4. Rescue and the Origin of Responsibility
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The action of saving a life in a situation of mass slaughter is not called for in the normal functioning of society. Such functioning is, in fact, set up so that we are not faced with a situation of “playing God” in the sense of deciding if the person knocking at our door should live. The context, however, that demanded ...
5. An Ethics of Framing
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Normally, when we use the terms “good” and “evil,” we take “good” to be what is useful or “good for” achieving some given subjective purpose or desire. The “evil” or the “harmful” is the opposite of this. It is what prevents our achieving our goals. There is, however, a difficulty in limiting ...
6. Freedom and Alterity
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There is a ready objection to the description of good and evil in terms of the environmental categories of “in-placeness” and “out-of-placeness.” It is that “out-of-placeness,” rather than characterizing evil, is essential to ethics. This is because the possibility of ethics is that of freedom. To be free, however, ...
7. Alterity and Society
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It is not at all obvious how the transition from ethics to politics is to be made. Often there is a surprising disjunction between the private ethical conduct of citizens and what counts as “just” or “fair” in the actions of the state. Victor Klemperer’s diaries of the Nazi years bear eloquent testimony both to the private decency ...
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Page Count: 225
Publication Year: 2003