Friday, May 29, 2009

Difficulties of Ethical Life

My most recent book review is up on M/C.

Difficulties of Ethical Life gathers twelve essays with an aim to investigate the place of philosophical ethics in contemporary living. A recent addition to the Perspectives in Continental Philosophy series (Fordham University Press), the book collects the thinking of scholars with diverse lines of inquiry from a broad range of subject areas—with race, truth, deception, terror, responsibility and intersubjectivity being just some of the issues discussed. Ethics, in its chase of ‘the good’, has always concerned questions pertaining to proper conduct, or ‘how one should live’ (28). For these scholars, however, this chase is nuanced in modern times by an increasingly globalised and technologically-equipped world—making questions on connectedness and responsibility particularly pertinent.

With my PhD moving toward the unravelling of an ethics of design (through an investigation of designers, dressmakers and domestic production), this book was a timely introduction to contemporary debates on ethical subjectivity, responsibility and the construction and comprehension of ethical standards. Most interesting for me, however, was the positioning of human social interaction at the heart of discussions on ethical living.

Interpersonal relations are, of course, a fundamental aspect of our lives - but to contain our reflections to this alone leaves out contemplating our interactions and relationships with self, environment, non-humans and material objects. Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking that ethical living extends to a consideration of all the things that we live with and through?