Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

3
THE CARED-FOR

THE ONE-CARING’S ATTITUDE AND ITS EFFECTS

THE ONE-CARINO comes across to the cared-for in an attitude. Whatever she does, she conveys to the cared-for that she cares. If she is in conversation with a colleague, she listens, and her eyes reflect the seriousness, humor, or excitement of the message being spoken. If she tends the sick, her hands are gentle with the anticipation of pain and discomfort. If she comforts the night-terrored child, her embrace shields from both terror and ridicule. She feels the excitement, pain, terror, or embarrassment of the other and commits herself to act accordingly. She is present to the cared-for. Her attitude is one of receptivity. But there is a receptivity required of the cared-for also.

Suppose that a child of, say, eight years comes home from school angry. He storms into the kitchen and throws his books on the floor. His mother, startled, says, “What happened, honey?” (She resists the temptation to say something to the effect that “in this house we do not throw things.”) The child says that his teacher is “impossible,” “completely unfair,” “mean,” “stupid,” and so on. His mother sympathizes and probes gently for what happened. Gradually, under the quiet influence of a receptive listener, the child calms down. As his mother sympathizes, he may even relax enough to say, “Well, it wasn’t that bad,” in answer to his mother’s sympathetic outrage. Then the two may smile at each other and explore rational solutions; they can speculate about faults, mistakes, and intentions. They can plot a course of action for the future. The child, accepted and supported, can begin to examine his own role in the incident and, perhaps, even suggest how he might have behaved differently.

The receptivity of the one-caring need not lead to permissiveness nor to an abdication of responsibility for conduct and achievement. Rather, it maintains and enhances the relatedness that is fundamental to human

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Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the 2013 Edition xiii
  • Preface to the 2003 Edition xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Care about Caring? 7
  • 2 - The One-Caring 30
  • 3 - The Cared-for 59
  • 4 - An Ethic of Caring 79
  • 5 - Construction of the Ideal 104
  • 6 - Enhancing the Ideal- Joy 132
  • 7 - Caring for Animals, Plants, Things and Ideas 148
  • 8 - Moral Education 171
  • Afterword 203
  • Notes 209
  • Select Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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