Posts Tagged ‘Moralism


For those who think that Kant was a cold rationalist…

(my translation from German):

“There is no man which is deprived of any moral sentiment, since a total insensibility towards this feeling would mark his moral death, and if (to speak in medical terms) the ethical vital force were not any more able to produce this sentiment, humanity (for a chemical law, so to say) would disperse itself in mere animality e would merge without remedy with the mass of all the other natural beings” (Metaphysics of Morals, p. 400)

David Hume was definitely less extreme: at his best, he wrote that “there never was sny nation of the world, nor any single person in any nation, who was utterly depriv’d of them [the moral sentiments] […] These sentiments – the moral ones – are so rooted in our constitution and temper, that without entirely confounding the human mind by disease or madness, ‘tis impossible to extirpate and destroy them” (Treatise of Human Nature, 474).

A morally insensible person, for Hume, is a mad person. For Kant is a dead human agent. Who is the sentimentalist?


About Moralism and Immoralism

To start with, I would like to suggest why an immoralist’s blog can be useful. Very shortly, the idea is that there is a tradition, in the course of the history of Western culture and in particular in the history of moral philosophy, of a kind of critique of morality which is a healthy refusal of its degeneration into moralism.

Now, moralism can be characterized as an attitude, in a strict sense of the term. One takes an “attitude” or even “poses” as a moralist, i.e. one takes as her fundamental stance a certain way of looking at the practical world and first of all of formulating a judgment about it “from the moral point of view”. Posing as a moral onlooker gives the advantage of considering oneself as immune from the faults that can be seen in others and of using moral criteria with full rigour and strenght, in order to have a firm position on the various issues of morality, society and politics.

Now, immoralism can be defined as the attempt to unmask the hypocrisy of this stance. The first virtue of an immoralist is honesty, in the form of what the Stoics called “parrhesia”, i.e. speaking frankly, especially when someone is posing as a judge and pretending to be morally superior.

So, what I would like to do here is to look at some examples of the moralist attitude in public discourse as well as in the literature and the philosophical tradition. At the same time I would like to highlight, now and then, examples of what I call the immoralist attitude and to trace a kind of immoralist tradition in the history of thought. The contrast between the two might be astonishing, sometimes.

Comments and clues are welcome!

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