Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

6
ENHANCING THE IDEAL:
JOY

OUR BASIC REALITY AND AFFECT

IN THE PRECEDING chapter, I suggested that joy often accompanies a realization of our relatedness. It is the special affect that arises out of the receptivity of caring, and it represents a major reward for the one-caring. Feeling joy in relatedness—whether in relation to persons, other living things, or ideas—encourages growth in the ethical ideal. Our joy enhances both the ideal and our commitment to it. We want to remain in direct contact with that which brings us joy and, somehow, with that joy itself.

What is joy? Is it an emotion, or should we more properly regard it as an affect or feeling? How does its occurrence support our fundamental claim about the basic nature of our reality—that is, that our basic reality is found in relatedness?

When I suggest that joy might be considered an “affect” or “feeling” rather than an emotion, I have in mind a distinction between reflective and nonreflective modes of consciousness. If we consider “affect” as the conscious subjective aspect of experience, we see that it may accompany both our activity in the instrumental world and our meetings in the relational world. Further, this description of affect allows for the possibility of our looking at ourselves feeling—that is, of our being aware of ourselves feeling. There may be a direct object involved in our feeling, but our relatedness to this object—perhaps even the relation itself-is the underlying or true object. It is the relation, or our recognition of the relation, that induces the affect we call joy.

Now, as we shall see, this is not an entirely new or bizarre distinction. Existentialist philosophers often speak of “anguish” as a basic affect of

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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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