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9781839765926

The Poverty of Ethics

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781839765926

  • ISBN10:

    1839765925

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2022-07-12
  • Publisher: Verso

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Summary

Why the left should reclaim ethics and morality for itself

The Poverty of Ethics stands the usual moral-political dichotomy on its head. It argues that moral principles do not in fact underlie or inform political decisions. It is, rather, the conceptual primacy of political discourse that rescues ethics from its poverty.
 
Our ethical convictions receive their substance from historical narratives, political analyses, empirical facts, literary-educational models, political activity and personal experience. Yet morality, essentially, doesn’t leave room for relativity: not every ethos deserves to be titles ‘moral’.
 
Hence the book argues further, it is the left ethos, as it has evolved over years, which forms the basis for ethics: morality is left-wing! Clarifying and justifying this seemingly odd statement is the main purpose of this essay.
 
Appealing to philosophical ideas on the essence of language, on meaning, on understanding and persuasion, this book scrutinizes the system of concepts and attitudes informing our common view of the relationship between the moral and the political. It argues that the traditional conception of morality is far too narrow to form a basis for political thought and political action.
 
Its carefully unfolded argument concludes that none of the current philosophical accounts of morality can be translated into terms of political will, much less into direct political action. Being too general and elastic, neither abstract moral principles, ethical-aesthetic sensibilities, nor the ethical demand emanating from an Other, can fulfill these tasks. Instead, the false primacy of the ethical over the political and the infinite flexibility of vacuous moral discourse are often mobilized to launder wrongs and delegitimize radical left politics.
 
Gratification of the moral high ground becomes an implement of de-politicization, and thus a powerful political instrument in the hands of those seeking to shore up the existing order.

Author Biography

Anat Matar is a senior lecturer at the department of philosophy at Tel Aviv University and a political activist. Her academic research focuses on the philosophy of language, political philosophy, and the relations between the two realms. An activist within the Israeli radical left for decades, Matar devotes much of her energy to supporting Palestinian political prisoners and Israeli draft resisters, and to galvanizing progressive change in Israeli academia. Matar’s book Modernism and the Language of Philosophy was published by Routledge in 2006. In 2011 a collection co-edited with Adv. Abeer Baker, Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel, was published by Pluto.

Supplemental Materials

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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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