[lit-ideas] SoS-Chapter 2, Moral Frameworks

  • From: "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2006 14:50:11 +0900

Sorry to have disappeared for the last several days. Life took a busy
turn, profitably so in business, intensely frustrating in politics,
all compounded by being still waiting on tenterhooks for the first
grandchild to appear. Ruth and I had been thinking of Kate, who
arrived two weeks early. Just heard last night about Pat, the father,
who arrived three weeks late. So may be its being June 7, two days
past the official ETA, isn't so bad after all.

I am reading my way through Taylor, now in Chapter 2. I note his
argument that the ad hominen reply to the reductionist that he, too,
appears incapable of speaking without assuming a framework to ground
his arguments does not dispose of the possibility that someone might
be able to pull of this trick.

But what catches my eye is this passage:

"To know who I am is a species of knowing where I stand. My identity
is defined by the commitments and identifications which provide the
frame or horizon within which I can try to determine from case to case
what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse
or oppose. In other words, it is the horizon within which I am capable
of taking a stand."

This language is all...so geometrical. And, yet so seemingly archaic.
As an anthropologist I think of all sorts of people who live in
landscapes conceived in morally charged terms, with sacred directions
associated with distinct viritues and evils as well as colors, tones,
animals, mountains, that sort of thing. In those worlds this statement
makes perfect sense. But what of the mathematical geometries that have
dominated Western thought since Euclid, with their perfectly uniform
points, lines and planes, all infinitely microscopic in the greater
scheme of things, none bearing any moral charge whatsoever. Can this
statement be intelligible in this kind of world?


John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN

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