This article presents a novel defense of Sartrean ethics based on the concept of interpersonal recognition. The immediate post-war texts Anti-Semite and Jew, What is Literature? and Notebooks for an Ethics express Sartre's inchoate yet ultimately defensible view of obligations to others. Such obligations are not best understood as Kantian duties, but rather as Hegelian obligations of mutual recognition. The emerging portrait of Sartrean ethics offers a strong reply to the classical criticism that authenticity would license vicious lifestyles like serial killing. In addition to acting with clarity and responsibility, existentially authentic individuals must respect others.
T. Storm Heter
Joseph L. Walsh
In discussing Sartre’s contribution to a Marxist ethics of revolution, it is important first to note that it is the ethics of revolution that is under consideration and not the broader question of Marxism and morality. Much has been written in recent years on the question of morality in Marxism, focusing generally on moral theory and justice, for example, Rodney Peffer’s wonderful summation of discussions about Marxism’s moral vision regarding human action and social organization.
Sketch of a Materialist Ethics
Through an analysis of the category of alienation in the Critique of Dialectical Reason, this article aims to shed light on the way in which Sartre attempts to think through alienation both with Marx and going beyond Marx. Sartre does not reduce alienation either to an ontological dimension of praxis or to the exclusively socio-economic determination of the capitalist mode of production. In order to grasp better the theoretical stakes of Sartre’s position, André Gorz’s analyses of the link between labour and alienation is discussed. The path via Gorz (who always insisted on his philosophical indebtedness to Sartre) is useful in order to ascertain whether it is justified to adopt the Sartrean dialectic of praxis and alienation as the basis of a critique of labour in the present configuration of the capitalist system. These questions will be taken as a starting point for an ethical and political examination of the category of need, as it is problematized by Sartre in the Critique and above all in the manuscript of “Les Racines de l’éthique” (1964).
Technologies of the Other, Lenience, and the Ethics of Ethiopian Orthodox Fasting
Focusing on the practice of fasting, this article traces the ethical efforts and conundrums of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who take their religion seriously, but do not necessarily see themselves as disciplined believers. I argue that the flexibility and lenience of the Orthodox system allow for morally ambivalent disciplinary projects that, in order to preserve their efficacy, must be sustained by an array of intimate relationships with more pious individuals who are fasting for others or on others’ behalf. By examining this relational economy of spiritual care, its temporalities and divisions of labor, I ask whether recent preoccupations with ‘technologies of the self’ in the anthropology of religion might have overlooked the relevance of ‘technologies of the other’.
Towards an Ethics of Possibility
Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp
This afterword to this special issue of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, entitled ‘For an Anthropology of Cognitive Disability’, explores the intersections of disability studies and ethnographic research on cognitive difference. We offer a brief scholarly genealogy, discuss how these articles provide recognition for ‘the disarticulate’, and consider how anthropologists working on this subject might contribute to an ethics of possibility.
Ethical Experience, Trauma, and History
Many contemporary applications of theories of affect to cinematic ethical experience focus on its consequences for empathy and moral allegiance. Such approaches have made advances in bridging phenomenological and cognitivist approaches to film-philosophy, but miss the importance of complex affects that problematize empathy and moral judgment. For example, the rendering of trauma in Aimless Bullet (Hyun-mok Yu, 1961) involves aesthetic shifts that reframe its depiction of postwar experience and build a complex emotional picture of sociopolitical conditions that affect individual and community life. In this article, I argue that to understand the ethical significance of complex cinematic emotion we can develop an account of how affective-aesthetic affordances establish distributed spaces for dynamic affective engagement. To do this, I draw upon theories of scaffolded mind, classical Indian rasa aesthetics, and phenomenological aesthetics. This hybrid account will allow us to articulate the ways that film can help us comprehend the ethical significance of complex affective situations.
Difficult Histories and Threatening Memories
Victor Jeleniewski Seidler
On the seventieth anniversary of the destruction of the Vilna ghetto I explore ambivalences in Holocaust memory in the Baltic states and troubling notions of a 'double genocide' while tracing train journeys of death that connected Vienna, Vilna and Tallinn and so western and eastern Europe. Exploring how memories are connected to place and investigating how family legacies of Litvak identity also travel, I show how Musar ethical traditions also journeyed as far as South Africa to influence the ethical politics of the African National Congress. Framing questions about the relationship between ethics and memory across generations I return to the painful warnings in the words of Elchanan Elkes at the destruction of the Kovno ghetto. I trace the possibilities that they help to frame a post-Shoah ethics and a vision of 'the human' that questions the rational self that informed Enlightenment thinking and that proved incapable of resisting the brutalities of Nazism.
Joshua B. Levy
I have always seen making ethical people, or at least making people ethical, as an essential part of the task of Jewish education and synagogue life. I have often quoted Leo Baeck who, when he sought to define the essence of Judaism, wrote about ethics. But it is not quite so simple. Is being a good person enough to make you a good Jew, as this congregant ultimately believed? If so, are our institutions and, indeed, Judaism itself, necessary for this to happen?
The ethics of liberal developmentalism and multicultural governance in South Korea
Multiculturalism has often been articulated through imperial and civilizational discourses that identify tolerance with the liberal West and intolerance with nonliberal societies and cultures. This article explores how the focus of the civilizational gaze is turned on the allegedly “not yet tolerant self“ in the neoliberal developmental state of South Korea. The mode of the liberal government that recently emerged in South Korea has been shaped not in the self-celebratory rhetoric of “what we are“ but in the self-critical, developmentalist rhetoric of “what we lack.“ Drawing from my fieldwork among local civic actors working in the field of migration, I discuss how the civic discourse of damunhwa, or “multiculturalism,“ that emerged in opposition to the “governmental objectification“ of migrant groups redirects the focus onto the ethical improvement of the general population, relying on another form of reified otherness that captures migrants and their presence in the country as “opportunities“ for South Korea's moral ventures.
'European Turks' and Negotiations of Neighbourliness at 'Home'
This article examines how Turks returning from Germany to Turkey self-fashion as 'orderly neighbours'. By maintaining aesthetically pleasing homes and gardens, keeping public spaces clean, and obeying rules and laws in public, return migrants believe they act as modern 'European-Turks' and exemplify good neighbourliness. Many neighbours, however, feel these actions are unnecessary or even disruptive to Turkish communities. In conversation with the burgeoning anthropology of ethics, this research explores how local, national and transnational assemblages foster reflections and debates on neighbourly ethics. Further, this study highlights anxieties about individualism, reciprocity, 'modernity' and 'European-ness' in today's Turkey.