On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethics and Politics

On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethics and Politics

On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethics and Politics

On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ethics and Politics

Synopsis

This book takes as its point of departure the question of ethics: that values and their pursuit in the West often perpetuate their own worst enemies. At issue are the dangers in the structures and movements of images, values, and ways of knowing that are most intimately a part of our lives. Charles E. Scott engages the thought of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Levinas. Nietzsche's and Foucault's genealogical approaches confront Heidegger's deconstructive thought and the religious thought of Levinas. In this encounter, a way of thinking emerges that makes evident the advantages of the nonethical and the nonpolitical for ethical and political life.

Excerpt

I myself but write one or two indicative words for this future.
I but advance a movement only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

THE TITLE OF this book is drawn from Nietzsche's On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, an early and, from the perspective of On the Genealogy of Morals, anticipatory essay whose value is found in part in its forecast of the thought to which it gives rise. Perhaps all of Nietzsche's thought is anticipatory in this sense: he anticipates thought as genealogical, as cultivated and disciplined memory, with responsibility less to what is remembered than to what is created by anticipation, thought that gives rise to other memories and to thought that in turn anticipates still other remembering and anticipatory thinking. His thought anticipates future thought which anticipates and remembers things that are quite new and that now are without clear connection to us.

The chapters in this book are focused by the question of ethics in the sense that they assume and address the difficult experience that our values and ideals—particularly our highest and strongest values and ideals—may carry with them and perpetuate their own worst enemies. They may add destruction and conflict to the very lives that they would cultivate, upbuild, and harmonize. The question of ethics, as experienced, allows us to participate with alertness in the self-overcoming of values and ideals that form our lives and that are structured by often unattended and intense conflicts. It also allows us to develop values and ways of thinking that form in the self-overcoming process. These chapters also go beyond that problematic by finding access to 'what' is not ethical and not political within ethical and political occurrences. The ethical and political dimensions of our lives are themselves in question by virtue of belonging to 'something' excessive to their own identities. Accompanying those descriptive claims is the ethically and politically strategic claim that when this excess is ignored in our values and evaluations, we will be inclined in our standards and regulations and by virtue of our cultural identity—we will be inclined by virtue of being political and ethical—to eliminate or dominate those values and political structures that are significantly different from our own.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.