How to be moral

Thinking back about how my "Lawnswood Gardens" (about Zygmunt Bauman) turned out, I am reading his conversations with Peter Haffer.

Zygmunt Bauman: Making the familiar unfamiliar: a conversation with Peter Haffner. 
 (Zygmunt Bauman: Das Vertraute unvertraut machen: Ein Gespräch mit Peter Haffner. ) 

I am struck by the part about moral responsibility.  Here is how I understand what Bauman means:

Everything we do influences others.  We need to take responsibility for our responsibility.  In our existential dimension we are moral creatures.  Morality begins when we meed the other.  Since there is no easy way to determine the outcome of our actions we always face ambivalence. 

In the past the way to handle that ambivalence was to follow religion.  A bad deed or a bad decision was softened by the notion of sin and the subsequent penance. 

Nowadays, the rational world disposes off with the notion of sin.  The place of sin is taken by fault.  Judiciary became a response to fault. 

Traditional ethic required submission to the rules.  Modern ethic requires that each of us assumes responsibility for our deeds.  We have to decide what’s good and bad on our own. 

A moral action should not be conducted with a goal in mind.  In moral issues there is no (systemic) pressure because morality assumes free will. A moral deed can't be calculated, should be spontaneous and not thought out through.  Morality is innate. 

Levinas says that asking “why should I behave this way?” are the sighs of the end of morality.  Longstrup says that even if a certain rule assumes doing good, obeying it doesn’t make the action moral.  Moral actions have to spring from free will.  Morality belongs to the kingdom of uncertainty.  

Bauman is amazed by the fact that Levinas and Longstrup although coming from and working in radically different circles, came up with the same notion regarding spontaneous value of moral actions.  Longstrup says that Jesus couldn’t have formulated christian ethics because had he done that he would have created conformists and not moral creatures. 

(here I hesitate: isn’t the Bible a set of moral rules, haven’t Jesus tough how to live morally?  Or are the Bible rules for the weak while the true moral action has to spin from an individual assessment?  If so, there would be something scary and potentially dangerous in it - going in the direction of Nietzsche) 

No comments:

Post a Comment