May 27, 2005

Adorno: ethics as resistance

This is David Levine's Adorno, 2003

A quote from T.W. Adorno's article 'Theory, Practice, and Moral Philosophy' from his Problems of Moral Philosophy that highlights an ethic of responsibility to resist evil.

"Now what I wish to emphasize is the factor of resistance, of refusing to be part of the prevailing evil, a refusal that always implies resisting something stronger and hence always contains an element of despair. I believe that this idea of resistance, then, may help you best to see what I mean when I say that the moral sphere is not coterminous with the theoretical sphere, and that this fact is itself a basic philosophical determinant of the sphere of practical action."

Thus the break away from theory in moral philosophy towards practical philosophy, whose ethos is one of refusal. Kant's moral philosophy can be seen as an example of what is being rejected. For Kant we help a stranger, tell the truth, or honor one’s dignity, out of responsibility to the moral law: As Nick Smith says:
When I visit a friend in the hospital, for example, for the deontologist I must be guided by a commitment to honor the moral law rather than by the actuality of my friend and her suffering. I go to the hospital because of the moral law rather than because of my friend’s suffering. Kant thus drains ethics of the blood and passions of life grounded on living and breathing people and replaces them with cold universal norms.
It is a turn away from Kant's universal moral law to Hegel's ethical life. Is that the turn that Adorno makes?

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 27, 2005 07:37 PM | TrackBack
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