Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

CONSTRUCTION OF
THE IDEAL

THE NATURE OF THE IDEAL

THE ETHICAL IDEAL as I have described it springs from two sentiments: the natural sympathy human beings feel for each other and the longing to maintain, recapture, or enhance our most caring and tender moments. Both sentiments may be denied, and so commitment is required to establish the ethical ideal. We must recognize our longing for relatedness and accept it, and we must commit ourselves to the openness that permits us to receive the other. The effort required to summon ethical caring is greatly reduced by renewed commitment to the sentiment from which it springs. For if we commit ourselves to receptivity, natural caring occurs more frequently, and conflicts may thereby be reduced.

The twin sentiments, commitment and construction of the ideal, furnish a logical framework for the discussion of ethicality. All but the most deprived (and, perhaps, depraved) of human beings feel the pain and joy of others, and each of us has access through memory to our own caring and being cared-for. But I am not claiming that every person who behaves ethically refers to her ethical ideal as the motivation for her acts. Clearly, there are those who are out of touch with their feelings; the “I must” has faded to a whisper and finally been stilled. There are those who locate the source of their ethicality in God, and others who find theirs in reason, and still others who find theirs in self-interest. I am certainly not denying the existence of these positions nor their power to motivate some individuals, but I am suggesting that they do not ring true to many of us and that they seem off the mark or unnecessarily cumbersome in their search for justification. Indeed, as we have seen, the search

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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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