In this article, I explore anticipation as a site of moral experience and moral willing when death may be nearby. Through an examination of the narratives of the wife of a hospice patient in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, I show that her commitment to not anticipate the course of her husband’s illness is a moral project pitted against biomedical modes of prognostication. In a context in which hospice care is the only option available for many older adults in poor health, I discuss the incommensurability between this position and the anticipatory horizon on which hospice care is predicated: the patient’s imminent death. I argue for an approach to this woman’s experience that takes into account the tendency for temporal orientations to be thrown into flux when death might be nearby, without reducing her commitment to not anticipate to mere avoidance or ‘denial’.
(Not) Anticipating as Moral Project
Kieran Flanagan and Alexander T. Riley
Mike Gane, Auguste Comte. London: Routledge, 2006, pp. 158.
Donald Nielsen, Horrible Workers: Max Stirner, Arthur Rimbaud, Robert Johnson, and the Charles Manson Circle: Studies in Moral Experience and Cultural Expression. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005, pp. 134.
Philip Smith, Why War? The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War and Suez. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005, pp. 256.
This introduces and discusses the background to a virtually unknown text - Durkheim's speech at the funeral of his colleague and friend, Frédéric Rauh (1861-1909). The two men had known one another for some time, and had much in common. But a disagreement had arisen between them, over the individual's role in social life, and came to the fore in their exchange with one another during the debate on Durkheim's 'The Determination of Moral Facts' (1906). This traces the development of Rauh's career and of his views on ethics, outlines the argument of his main book, Moral Experience (1903), and indicates how his work increasingly referred to Durkheim, Lévy-Bruhl and the Année sociologique. But it is above all in an effort to pinpoint what was at stake. For it can seem more of a divergence of perspectives, generating disagreement over the questions it is important to ask, rather than over precisely the same issues.