The Enigma of Good and Evil: The Moral Sentiment in Literature (Analecta Husserliana)
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Striking toward peace and harmony the human being is ceasely torn apart in personal, social, national life by wars, feuds, inequities and intimate personal conflicts for which there seems to be no respite. Does the human condition in interaction with others imply a constant adversity? Or, is this conflict owing to an interior or external factor of evil governing our attitudes and conduct toward the other person? To what criteria should I refer for appreciation, judgment, direction concerning my attitudes and my actions as they bear on the well-being of others?
At the roots of these questions lies human experience which ought to be appropriately clarified before entering into speculative abstractions of the ethical theories and precepts. Literature, which in its very gist, dwells upon disentangling in multiple perspective the peripeteia of our life-experience offers us a unique field of source-material for moral and ethical investigations.
Literature brings preeminently to light the Moral Sentiment which pervades our life with others -- our existence tout court. Being modulated through the course of our experiences the Moral Sentiment sustains the very sense of literature and of personal human life (Tymieniecka).
immediate feelings. 38 ANNIKA LJUNG-BARUTH The helplessness that Mrs. Bascomb experiences when she ﬁnds that ‘‘anger’’ and ‘‘violence’’ are useless weapons against Lottie brings her to a complete standstill (HSW, W 167). To stand ‘‘breathlessly still’’ and do ‘‘nothing at all’’ implies a withholding of the presentational attitude. Mrs. Bascomb learns to listen to Lottie’s complaints about physical disorders and to patiently take care of the household. She becomes docile and restrains her
moments ﬀ a diﬀ ﬀerent reading of our own existence, being in which we dare to oﬀer willing like Abraham to accept the awesome responsibility which is held in check by the fragility of our own self-understanding. Given this fragility, it may be the case that evil is, much like Kierkegaard’s idea of God, never more present than in those moments during which it appears to have disappeared utterly. Thus, to Hannay’s Abraham, who is uniquely diﬀerent ﬀ from everyday man, we should counterpose our
forget and not see death is very human. Civilization is a lie; death is real. Ethics opens us to the truth about the unhomely and strange to which we usually remain blind. (The imagery of blindness runs consistently throughout the novella.) The ‘‘totality’’ of comfortable categorical imperatives determines what we can see and not see. Within this framework, identity is constructed. Thomas Carl Wall describes the ‘‘totality’’ that Levinas is working to undermine as follows: ‘‘An anonymous mimesis
an irreducible singularity in this text. T emple University NOTES 1 John Brannigan, Ruth Robbins and Julian Wolfreys, Applying to Derrida (London: McMillan Press, 1996), p. 155. 2 Carlos Fuentes, IInstinto de Ines (Mexico: Alfaguara, 2000), p. 30. 3 Carlos Fuentes, IInstinto de Ines (Mexico: Alfaguara, 2000), p. 139. 4 Ralph McIneerny, Aquinas on Human Action, a T heory of Practice (The Catholic UP: Washington D.C., 1985), p. 91. W 5 Carlos Fuentes, IInstinto de Ines (Mexico: Alfaguara, 2000),
has been said (by one of the most credited Italian critics) that Ortese’s views are nihilistic.70 This interpretation deﬁnitely wrongs Ortese: it reads her as if her views were without a way out; in other words, as if her claims were not understandable (an oﬀence ﬀ that Ortese’s literature, dedicatedly committed to understanding, did not deserve). Ortese’s protest against modernity, her dissatisfaction with the utilitarian view of life, her criticism for the power to monetarize everything