“Imagine a family in which moral values dominate everything else, including the affection the family members feel for each other: life in such a family will probably be quite miserable and thus somewhat “sick.” In short, I argue that a high degree of moral language and a highly moral mindset is not an indicator of the “health” of a person or a society, but, to the contrary, a worrisome symptom of tension and uneasiness.”
“It seems to me that ethical communication has almost reached a pathological level in our society, bringing about, in Hegel’s words, a certain “frenzy of self-conceit.””
“Interestingly enough, there have always been a number of philosophers who were highly suspicious of ethics; Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, for example. I follow these thinkers rather than the likes of Kant or contemporary ethical theorists who believe that they are able to identify what is “really” good. The attempt to define criteria for moral goodness has often ended in grotesque failures. I cite a number of examples of “shocking” or ridiculous ethical demands by some of the great heroes of today’s academic ethics, such as Kant’s moral defense of murdering “illegitimate” children or Bentham’s “scientific” suggestion of measuring weightlifting abilities in order to establish people’s strength for tolerating pain so that the moral quality of certain policies that might inflict pain on them could be objectively assessed. I argue that the history of “philosophical” ethics accounts for not much more than a series of unwarranted academic presumptions.”
(Hans-Georg Moeller, author of The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality)
Have you read this? What do you reckon?
Well, I think this would indeed be the question of modernity…or at least the main question dealing with liberation in modernity. Since Nietzsche wrote God’s obituary, liberation movements of various localities (liberal, socialist and Communist) have sought scientific grounding where religion once reigned. And such, perhaps, accounts for the strange ethico-scientific breeds of morality ruling politics today (man needn’t not God anymore he needs Free Markets | or Revolution), and the stranger breeds of cosmopolitan scientific-spirituality (Yoga Therapy, Tolle, The Secret) rampant in the marketplace.
We should be suspicious of any totality, and all ethics are inevitably totalities. The only solution, perhaps, is to remain fluid, treat ethics as an art a la Foucault, critique that which may dominate and neutralize it, etc.
Eric Repphun said:
This is a very interesting take on the whole phenomena of therapy culture, one that certainly falls under the umbrella of the “frenzy of self-conceit”. In this frenzy of happiness, as this tension and unease gets medicalised rather than actually discussed. As some fantastic Dunedin graffiti used to say, ‘Happiness is Tyranny’.
Perhaps here we have the beginnings of a justification to make some steps towards resurrecting the university, first off by getting rid of all or (I’ll be charitable) most of the armies of counselors and therapists and hiring more actual scholars and teachers.
I may have to read this when I get a second or two.
Eric Gregory said:
I’m not sure if I agree with Eric – therapy is incredibly helpful for discussion, though I will support getting rid of medicating tension and dis-ease. Medication is certainly helpful and necessary in some instances (otherwise we’d need to be Scientologists), but not something one would normally need to cope with life.
The most impactful of Moeller’s statements, for me, is the first quoted as I have experienced that first hand. For Christians, morality isn’t the goal, neither is “good behavior”, but grace and mercy reign. It’s unfortunate that, for many, Christianity has been boiled down to a set of rules and regulations that dictate their lives and help them dictate the lives of others.