Advertisement

Moral Good, the Self, and the M/other

Upholding Difference
Living reference work entry
  • 332 Downloads
Part of the Handbooks in Philosophy book series (HP)

Abstract

This chapter employs the relevant ethical phenomenologies of Buber, Lévinas, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche as well as the philosophical psychoanalysis of Lacan to examine the moral good of difference and to determine the rationale of treating either self or other as more deserving of good. Difference and otherness are not synonymous. Following the Socratic style of dialogue, the chapter emerges from a conversation with a Zulu man who perceives the author as a privileged, white, female South African other due to the failure of the self to understand the actual difference of the other. There also seems, the author acknowledges, to be a pre-existing and fundamental moral value in regard to relating with and comprehending the other as both self-like and necessarily not-self, a moral value emerging from the Christian overdetermination of many South Africans including the Zulu man – the author is, again, “other” (not privileged, not white, not South African, and not Christian). To this end, Levitical and Deuteronomic texts are invoked as a shared philosophical basis for understanding the difference between self and other. From these analyses, the chapter shows that we other violently, when we do not understand our difference. But when we take time to stop and reflect and listen, we can reach agreement that we are completely different in a positive sense – a strategic rethinking of “otherness.” This important and essential form of difference is theorized in the chapter as “m/othering,” illustrating the original forming of identity on which we tend to base perceptions of the other. Difference is shown to be not only desirable but possibly imperative for cultural growth.

Keywords

Other Self Moral good Personal identity Subjectivity 

References

  1. Augustine, St Aurelius. (nd). Sermon on 1 John 4:4–12. Abridged and modernized, Stephen Tomkins. Ed. Dan Graves. https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/augustine/. Accessed 01, March 2017.
  2. Baum, Rob. 2006a. Chasing horses, eating Arabs. Islamic masculinities, 105–118. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  3. Baum, Rob. 2006b. Circumspection: Signs of G-d on Jews’ bodies. Journal of Theatre and Religion 5 (2): 73–90.Google Scholar
  4. Baum, Rob. 2011. Aphra Behn’s black body: Sex, lies & narrativity in Oroonoko. Special issue on transgressive auto/biography. Brno: Studies in English 37: 7–29.Google Scholar
  5. Bond, George Clement, and Diane M. Ciekawy, eds. 2001. Witchcraft dialogues: Anthropological and philosophical exchanges. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies.Google Scholar
  6. Buber, Martin. 1973. I/thou. New York: CharlesScribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  7. Creed, Barbara. 1993. The monstrous feminine: Film, feminism, psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Friedman, Richard Elliott. 1987. Who wrote the Bible? New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Haas, Peter J. 2002. Ethics in the post-Shoah era: Giving up the search for a universal ethic. Ethical Perspectives 8: 105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Halbertal, Moshe. 2013. On sacrifice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Husserl, Edmund. 1980. Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy – Third book: Phenomenology and the foundations of the sciences. Trans. T. E. Klein and W. E. Pohl. Dordrecht: Kluwer [1913].Google Scholar
  12. Kant, Immanuel. 1993. Grounding for the metaphysics of morals. Indianapolis: Hackett [1797].Google Scholar
  13. Kierkegaard, Søren. 1986. Fear and trembling. Trans. Alastair Hannay. New York: Penguin Classics [1843].Google Scholar
  14. Lévinas, Emanuel. 1981. Otherwise than being, or beyond essence. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. The Hague: Martinus Nuhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Lévinas, Emanuel. 1998. Of God who comes to mind. Trans. Bettina Bergo. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1967. On the genealogy of morals and Ecce Homo. Trans./ed. W. Kaufmann. New York: Vintage [1887].Google Scholar
  17. Reichs, Kathy. 2008. Fatal voyage. London: Arrow Books.Google Scholar
  18. Rogoff, Irit. 1994. From “ruins” to “debris” – The feminisation of Fascism in German history museums. Lecture. University of California, Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  19. Wiesel, Eli. (1989). Public Lecture. Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primary Healthcare Directorate, University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Psychology, John F. Kennedy UniversityPleasant HillUSA
  3. 3.University of HaifaHaifaIsrael

Personalised recommendations