Why Ethics?: Signs of Responsibilities

Why Ethics?: Signs of Responsibilities

By: Robert Gibbs (author)Paperback

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Robert Gibbs presents here an ambitious new theory of ethics. Drawing on a striking combination of intellectual traditions, including Jewish thought, continental philosophy, and American pragmatism, Gibbs argues that ethics is primarily concerned with responsibility and is not--as philosophers have often assumed--principally a matter of thinking about the right thing to do and acting in accordance with the abstract dictates of reason or will. More specifically, ethics is concerned with attending to others' questions and bearing responsibility for what they do. Gibbs builds this innovative case by exploring the implicit responsibilities in a broad range of human interactions, paying especially close attention to the signs that people give and receive as they relate to each other. Why Ethics? starts by examining the simple actions of listening and speaking, reading and writing, and by focusing on the different responsibilities that each action entails. The author discusses what he describes as the mutual responsibilities implicit in the actions of reasoning, mediating, and judging. He assesses the relationships among ethics, pragmatics, and Jewish philosophy. The book concludes by looking at the relation of memory and the immemorial, emphasizing the need to respond for past actions by confessing, seeking forgiveness, and making reconciliations. In format, Gibbs adopts a Talmudic approach, interweaving brief citations from primary texts with his commentary. He draws these texts from diverse thinkers and sources, including Levinas, Derrida, Habermas, Rosenzweig, Luhmann, Peirce, James, Royce, Benjamin, Maimonides, the Bible, and the Talmud. Ranging over philosophy, literary theory, social theory, and historiography, this is an ambitious and provocative work that holds profound lessons for how we think about ethics and how we seek to live responsibly.

About Author

Robert Gibbs is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. Author of Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas and coauthor of Reasoning after Revelation: Dialogues in Postmodern Jewish Philosophy, he has written widely on questions of contemporary continental philosophy and its relations with Jewish thought.


Acknowledgments xiAbbreviations and Notes on Citations xiiiIntroduction Why Questions? 3A. The Response in Responsibility 3B. Signs 6C. Commentaries l0D. A Map 13E. The Authors and Texts 23Part I: Attending the Future 27Chapter 1: Why Listen? 29A. Attending the Teacher 31B. Asymmetry 35C. Receiving the World 37D. The Face and Consciosness 40E. Apology 44Chapter 2 Why Speak? 47A. The Saving 48B. Bodily Signifying 50C. Saying the Saying 58D. Witness to Glory 61Chapter 3: Why Write? 66A. Writing Withdratual 67B. Saying and Writing 74C. The Trace and Crossing out 79Chapter 4: Why Read? 86A. The Hidden Thread 87B. Closure of Philosophy 89C. Re-citation 95Chapter 5: Why Comment? 114A. The Written Command 115B. Reading and Separation 116C. Commentaries 123Part II: Presentjudgments 131Chapter 6: Why Reason? 133A. The Third and Justice 134B. Mutuality and Justice 141C. Mutuality and Asymmetry 145Chapter 7: Why Mediate? 156A. Communication and Love 157B. Media for Communication 167C. Mediating Consensus 171Chapter 8: Why Judge? 178A. Attribution 180B. We and Ye 182C. Universality and the Outside 187D. Judgment Day 192E. Unjust Judgment 200Chapter 9: Why Law? 210A. Justifying the World 211B. Preserving Contradictions 214 'C Judgment and the Oppressed 218Part III: Pragmatism, Pragmatics, and Method 225Chapter 10: Why Verify? 227A. Performative Method 229B. Empiricisms: Absolute and Radical 234C. Pragmatism and Pragmaticism 239Chapter 11: Why Thirds? 246A. The Third Person 247B. Interpretation and Thirds 251Chapter 12: Why Me? 258A. Interpreters and Signs 259B. Me and I 259C. The Indeclinable Accusative (Me) 272Chapter 13: Why Translate? 278A. Reason and Jewish Sources 280B. Jewish New Thinking 286C. Contemporary Translation 290D. A Necessary Trial 298Part IV: Repenting History 305Chapter 14: Why Repent? 307A. Return 308B. Great Is Repentance 310C. Social Repentance 319Chapter 15: Why Confess? 325A. Confessing Orally 326B. Performance of the "I" 329C. Confession of Love 334Chapter 16 Why Forgive? 338A. Forgive or Forget 339B. Changing the Past 341C. Being Forgiven 345Chapter 17: Why Remember? 354A. Calendars 355B. Historiography 362C. Ruins and Remnants 372Epilogue Postmodern Jewish Philosophy and Modernity 380Pretext Index 385Name Index 391Subject Index 395

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780691009636
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 384
  • ID: 9780691009636
  • weight: 595
  • ISBN10: 0691009635

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