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Wonder and Generosity

Their Role in Ethics and Politics

Marguerite La Caze

Publication Year: 2013

A compelling understanding of equality and difference in public life

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title page

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pp. 4-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-x

Writing this book has been a real pleasure and has involved endless discussions and support over years. Much of the work has been presented at conferences, and I would like to thank audiences at the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy, the Society for Philosophy in the...

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pp. 1-10

This book concerns the ethical and political significance of two passions: wonder and generosity. Wonder is based on accepting others’ differences, and generosity is based on self-respect and mutual respect. When both are cultivated, they supplement each other and form the basis for an...

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Chapter 1: Wonder and Generosity

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pp. 11-34

As I mentioned in the introduction, the passions of wonder and generosity provide my starting point for thinking about the role of the passions in ethical and political questions. In her book The Ethics of Sexual Difference (1993a), Luce Irigaray reads texts in the history of philosophy by...

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Chapter 2: Love and Respect

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pp. 35-58

Descartes’s delineation of the nature of wonder and generosity and Irigaray’s elaboration of the role of wonder in ethics provide an excellent starting point for thinking about ethics. Furthermore, Descartes gives a very useful account of how we should cultivate virtuous passions in ourselves....

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Chapter 3: Responding to Difference and Similarity

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pp. 59-84

In this chapter, I would like to elaborate on the question touched on in earlier chapters concerning the relation between sexual differences and other kinds of differences between human beings. I argue that both wonder and generosity are needed in our responses to oppression in relation to...

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Chapter 4: The Relation between Ethics and Politics

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pp. 85-111

In the previous chapters, we saw that many important issues straddle the divide between ethics and politics and that many ethical matters can be resolved depending on political circumstances. Furthermore, our ability to feel wonder, generosity, and love is co-implicated with political circumstances...

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Chapter 5: Cosmopolitanism, Hospitality, and Refugees

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pp. 113-133

Hospitality is an act or set of acts, rather than a passion or attitude like wonder or generosity, yet both passions and attitudes are important to understanding hospitality. In this chapter, I discuss the concept of hospitality in the context of the moral and political philosophy of cosmopolitanism....

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Chapter 6: Wonder, Radical Evil, and Forgiveness

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pp. 135-164

In previous chapters, I have concentrated on the ways in which wonder and generosity could overcome sexist and racist oppression, bring about a more open, respectful, and loving ethics and politics and be part of a richer, more hospitable approach to asylum seekers. Yet some phenomena appear...

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Chapter 7: Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

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pp. 165-187

My discussion of evil and forgiveness in the previous chapter leads us to the very important question of the nature and value of official apologies for wrongdoing. Are they part of a political life where wonder, generosity, and love are taken seriously and expressed? In recent years, many...

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pp. 189-195

Throughout this book I have argued that our strategies in overcoming oppression, injustice, evil, and abuse must be twofold. We need both generosity, in Descartes’s sense of proper self-respect that leads us to regard others with respect, and wonder, as articulated by both Descartes and...


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pp. 197-226


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pp. 227-245


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pp. 247-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781438446776
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438446752

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Generosity.
  • Wonder.
  • Political ethics.
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