This is my first attempt to contribute something to this blog–or any blog for that matter. Sorry, it’s nothing original, just a recycled interview from “religion dispatches”.
Ten Questions for Hans-Georg Moeller on The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality
(Columbia University Press, 2009)
What inspired you to write The Moral Fool? What sparked your interest?
The book was written as result of a certain personal uneasiness about the increasing prevalence of moral communication in contemporary society. I found that not only the obvious moral hypocrisy often contained in public statements by, for instance, politicians, preachers, or academics, bothered me, but more generally, the undeserved prestige of ethical language. It seems to me that ethical communication has almost reached a pathological level in our society, bringing about, in Hegel’s words, a certain “frenzy of self-conceit.”
The book is aimed at making such pathologies visible—for instance in the mass media, in politics, in warfare, and in legal procedures, but also on a personal level, when people are urged to practice and experience a “morality of anger.”
What’s the most important take-home message for readers?
Morality (moral communication and moral thought) is not in itself “good.” And: Dare to take ethics not so seriously.
Is there anything you had to leave out?
The book is very much focused on moral pathologies in North America. I think that moral pathologies in other regions (Germany, China, for instance) show quite different symptoms. Maybe one time there will be a catalogue of the various forms of moral pathologies in different places and at different times. Continue reading →