The Issue is Not the Issue: A Podcast with Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas
Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, “profilicity,” and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
Episode 3—Critique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W1m0Bez8vU
Philosophy today runs the risk of once more becoming the “handmaiden of theology” by being put in the service of civil religion. The Kantian concept of critique is revived to reflect on contemporary dogmatism and associated power structures that lead to phenomena such as “competitive wokeness” in entertainment (Taylor Swift) or the need to write “diversity statements” in academia. The idea of a therapeutic rather than a normative philosophy is suggested and it is explained how society, along with critique, evolves rather than progresses.
Episode 4—Profilicity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yz1C0-mtWI
Why do we need to produce “virtue speech”? We need it to be competitive in society and to bolster our public profiles. A new profile-based identity paradigm, called “profilicity,” is on the rise. It is replacing other identity paradigms such as sincerity and authenticity and provides not only individuals but also institutions (political parties, companies, universities, etc.) with identity value.
The University of Macau’s Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme invites applications from qualified candidates wishing to pursue postgraduate research in philosophy from August 2019. There are two different funding schemes for our PhD programme. The deadline for applications to both schemes is 28th February 2019. Applications from international students are welcome.
UM Macao PhD Scholarship
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UM Macao PhD Assistantship
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Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
Episode 1–Virtue Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pg8H-b87Cs;
The phenomenon of virtue speech (“virtue signalling”) has become a central feature in recent outrage movements pervasive throughout the West. Virtue speech, which is implicitly tied to accusations of hate speech, is a form of moralistic discourse setting speech examples that make it difficult to openly discuss elements of our culture without falling into the trap of moralizing.
Episode 2–Civil Religion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EDEuXCPHOQ
Civil religion plays a central role in the virtue speech, or political correctness, discourse. The history of the concept is discussed as well as the structure of the American form of civil religion and how tenets of civil religion are constantly being performed and re-enacted, particularly in current social media outrage movements.
CALL FOR PAPERS
2017 SINGAPORE-HONG KONG-MACAU SYMPOSIUM
21-22 April 2017
Organized and Sponsored by the Philosophy and Religious Studies Program, University of Macau, Macau
The Singapore-Hong Kong-Macau Symposium on Chinese Philosophy aims to foster dialogue and interaction between scholars primarily based in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. Submissions are invited for papers on any aspect of Chinese Philosophy, as well as papers dealing with comparative issues that engage Chinese perspectives. Speakers will be selected through a review of abstracts. While preference will be given to those from the region, participants from any geographic areas are welcome. The language of the Conference is English. Speakers coming from abroad will be provided with accommodations during the Conference, and lunches and dinners will be served for all speakers.
Please submit 1-2 pages abstracts for review to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission deadline: 30 Dec 2016
Notification of acceptance: 31 Jan 2017
Should you have any enquiries, please contact Hans-Georg Moeller at: email@example.com
Stephen had kindly placed his reference to a recent and extremely negative review of the Moral Fool only at the end of the no longer much frequented discussion of this book in this forum. I had requested the publishers of the review, the editors of the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, to be granted the right to a reply. This request was denied. I might thus as well say a few words here.
It is not really worth the effort to respond in detail to the many often incorrect and contradictory claims of the reviewer. In general, he accuses me of not having written a book in the only genre that he seems to deem academically appropriate, namely an exegetical study on the secondary literature in one’s field. Of course, as will be most obvious to any reader, I intentionally did not make such an attempt in the Moral Fool, but rather tried to develop a perspective of “negative ethics” derived from various philosophical sources, including Chinese ones and to relate them to some current social issues and viewpoints.
Some colleagues and friends have asked me if I knew why the reviewer had been so extraordinarily hostile. I did not know this, since I had never heard his name before. However, I subsequently became aware of some “dots” which perhaps are entirely disconnected: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews often commissions its contributions directly through requests of their editors. P.J. Ivanhoe is an editor of this journal. In the review, I am accused of not citing major authorities on Chinese Philosophy, among which the reviewer lists P.J. Ivanhoe. The reviewer, in the acknowledgments in his book on W. James, thanks P.J. Ivanhoe. I co-published a critical review of Prof. Ivanhoe’s religious interpretation of the Zhuangzi some years ago in Philosophy East and West.
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 →