The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality

The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality

by Hans-Georg Moeller
     
 

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Justice, equality, and righteousness& mdash;these are some of our greatest moral convictions. Yet in times of social conflict, morals can become rigid, making religious war, ethnic cleansing, and political purges possible. Morality, therefore, can be viewed as pathology-a rhetorical, psychological, and social tool that is used and abused as a weapon.

An

Overview

Justice, equality, and righteousness& mdash;these are some of our greatest moral convictions. Yet in times of social conflict, morals can become rigid, making religious war, ethnic cleansing, and political purges possible. Morality, therefore, can be viewed as pathology-a rhetorical, psychological, and social tool that is used and abused as a weapon.

An expert on Eastern philosophies and social systems theory, Hans-Georg Moeller questions the perceived goodness of morality and those who claim morality is inherently positive. Critiquing the ethical "fanaticism" of Western moralists, such as Immanuel Kant, Lawrence Kohlberg, John Rawls, and the utilitarians, Moeller points to the absurd fundamentalisms and impracticable prescriptions arising from definitions of good. Instead he advances a theory of "moral foolishness," or moral asceticism, extracted from the "amoral" philosophers of East Asia and such thinkers as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Niklas Luhmann. The moral fool doesn't understand why ethics are necessarily good, and he isn't convinced that the moral perspective is always positive. In this way he is like most people, and Moeller defends this foolishness against ethical pathologies that support the death penalty, just wars, and even Jerry Springer's crude moral theater. Comparing and contrasting the religious philosophies of Christianity, Daoism, and Zen Buddhism, Moeller presents a persuasive argument in favor of amorality.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This engaging and often difficult study is a well-conceived critique of ethical and moral thinking from an amoral perspective or standpoint. Moeller (philosophy, Univ. College Cork, Ireland) argues that a case for amorality can occasionally be found in prior philosophical writing, but that it is found more pertinently in Chinese Daoist and Zen Buddhist writing. The thinking there is that we cannot ultimately know if ethical or moral statements are correct or incorrect in an absolute sense. For this, Moeller writes, is the position of the "moral fool," who thinks philosophically in terms of ontology, or being, or existence: he thinks that there can be no philosophical answers to the correctness of ethical or moral statements since they cannot be shown to exist or to be answered philosophically. Throughout this study Moeller considers controversial ethical and moral problems from his amoral perspective: civil rights, abortion, religious and just wars, capital punishment, ethnic cleansing, segregation, sexual orientation, political purges, and more. VERDICT The author's amoral slant on these subjects is difficult to contest; this is a landmark study that anyone who champions ethics and morality must confront. Very highly recommended.—Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA
Booklist (starred review)
Moeller shows just how germane and engaging public philosophy can be.

Choice

Highly recommended.

Booklist
Moeller shows just how germane and engaging public philosophy can be.
Philosophy East and West
Succint and savory, The Moral Fool poses a number of interesting and complex questions... By proceeding from a highly original blend of insightful Asian and Western perspetives, it is an engaging piece of work that should serve to initiate and stimulate fruitful discussion on what morality is supposed to do for us in our modern world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231519243
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
17 MB
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This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

Franklin Perkins
The Moral Fool fully and easily engages the philosophical issues that are present in contemporary life. Hans-Georg Moeller moves naturally from more theoretical discussions to the analysis of concrete social phenomena. His facility with applying philosophical discussions is what makes his book important, relevant, and engaging, not to mention provocative, remarkably clear, and even funny. In fact, this book is the best attempt I have read to bring Chinese philosophy into contemporary philosophical discussion.

Meet the Author

Hans-Georg Moeller is senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department at University College Cork, Ireland. His publications on Daoism and social systems theory include Choice Outstanding Academic Title The Philosophy of the Daodejing as well as a translation of the Daodejing, Daoism Explained: From the Dream of the Butterfly to the Fishnet Allegory, and Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems.

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