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Ethics Unbound

Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality

By Katrin Froese

Publication Year: 2013

This book closely examines texts from Chinese and Western traditions that hold up ethics as the inviolable ground of human existence, as well as those that regard ethics with suspicion. The negative notion of morality contends that because ethics cannot be divorced from questions of belonging and identity, there is a danger that it can be nudged into the domain of the unethical, since ethical virtues can become properties to be possessed with which the recognition of others is solicited. Ethics thus fosters the very egoism it hopes to transcend, and risks excluding the unfamiliar and the stranger. The author argues inspirationally that the unethical underbelly of ethics must be recognized in order to ensure that it remains vibrant.

Published by: Chinese University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgements

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pp. ix-x

I would like to thank the sponsors at the Killam Trusts for funding a fellowship that enabled me to commit an entire semester to the writing of this book. A supportive work environment cultivated by my colleagues in Religious Studies and Philosophy remains invaluable to me. ...

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Many thinkers across divergent philosophical and religious traditions bemoan a seemingly precipitous decline in moral standards. Often, the corrupt and ethically moribund world that they inhabit is compared unfavorably to a golden age, when ethics enjoyed its rightful place at the apex of human existence and human beings were able to live in harmonious concord, ...

Part I: The Esteem of Ethics

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pp. 15-16

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1. Taking a Stand: The Moral Philosophy of Confucius and Kant

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pp. 17-58

Kant and Confucius share a commitment to morality, which they see not only as the ultimate duty of human beings, but also as the highest expression of our humanity. Both thinkers take upon themselves the challenge of instructing human beings on how to take a moral stand in the midst of moral decline. ...

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2. Organic Virtue: Reading Mencius with Rousseau

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pp. 59-96

For both Kant and Confucius, moral development bequeaths upon human beings a unique place within the cosmos. In the case of Confucius, human beings must attune themselves to the patterns of tian in a distinctly human way, relying heavily upon li, while for Kant, nature must often be struggled against in making moral decisions. ...

Part II: Vices of Virtue

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pp. 97-98

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3. Strangers to Ethics: Kierkegaard and Daoist Approaches

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pp. 99-162

In the first part of this book, I dealt with thinkers for whom the moral vision was paramount, and for whom knowing one’s place within the social order becomes a central component of living a life of virtue. While this does not imply that an ethical life is one which remains stagnant, it does link moral virtue to a process of familiarization. ...

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4. Beyond Good and Evil: Flexible Ethics in Nietzsche and Daoist Thought

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pp. 163-226

Kierkegaard’s philosophy sheds light on the limits of ethical systems, which manifest a disturbing discomfort with the stranger and therefore fail to appreciate the diversity of the world. For Kierkegaard, our existence is marked by an intractable and yet rejuvenating paradox. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 227-236

Morality is integrally connected with the notion of what it means to be a human being. However, this does not imply that the moral path is an easy one. On the contrary, thinkers such as Kant, Confucius, Mencius, and Rousseau assert that it requires unceasing effort and dedication, suggesting that human beings are not part of the world in the same manner as other creatures. ...

Bibliography

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pp. 237-244

Index

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pp. 245-250


E-ISBN-13: 9789629969189
Print-ISBN-13: 9789629964962

Page Count: 250
Illustrations: N
Publication Year: 2013