Voice and the Generalised Other in the Ethical Writings of Zygmunt Bauman.

Best, Shaun (2016) Voice and the Generalised Other in the Ethical Writings of Zygmunt Bauman. In: UNSPECIFIED Routledge.

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Official URL: https://www.routledge.com/Beyond-Bauman-Critical-e...


According to Zygmunt Bauman most sociological narratives tend to ignore moral and ethical issues in relation to issues of cultural belonging and mechanisms of cultural exclusion. In contrast, in Bauman’s work ethical and moral problems have been recurrent concerns, and can be found in every aspect of his writing from his understanding of the Holocaust to later concerns about the transition of a solid to a liquid form of modernity, consumption, the Other and ambivalence. In his conversations with Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester, Bauman explains that the ‘moral law inside me’ as identified by Immanuel Kant ‘is to me an axis around which all other secrets of the human condition rotate’ (Bauman, Jacobsen and Tester 2014:68). Bauman’s ethical concerns are Other directed in that whatever constitutes ethics should be beyond ourselves and our own desires and self-interest. Bauman’s ethical stance was most clearly outlined initially in Postmodern Ethics (1993) and Life in Fragments (1995) in which he identifies the place of contemporary of morality within what appears to be the post ethical, post-legislative postmodern/liquid modern condition. The chapter explores how, what Bauman identifies as the ‘moral law inside me’ and how this shapes our relationship with the Other. Bauman goes on to draw upon Emmanuel Lévinas’s opinion that the ‘primal scene’ of morality is sphere of the ‘face to face’ and that being with the Other and for the Other should form the basis of contemporary ethics. The chapter will explore how Bauman’s underpinning acceptance of Kant, which manifests itself most forcefully in Bauman’s underpinning anthropological conception of culture that leads to a misunderstanding of Lévinas within Bauman’s ethical writing. For Bauman the moral capacity of people that allows them to form communities is established via a cultural link between self and Other in which the moral self becomes its own interpreter of the needs of the Other. The Other is not unknown to us as a specific human individual Other, rather we come to understand the Other as type of person or set of characteristics, not a unique individual. The chapter examines the possible negative consequence s of conceiving the Other as a generalised Other; Bauman’s account of the adiaphorizing effects of social processes that encourage moral irrelevance and dehumanization of the Other and the possibilities of a renewal of an ethical life via the creation of a new public sphere.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: L370 Social theory
Members: The University of Winchester
Depositing User: ULCC Admin
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2016 04:07
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2016 04:07
URI: http://collections.crest.ac.uk/id/eprint/14402

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