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Aesthetic and relational ethics: beyond Baumanís postmodern ethics


Hookway, N and Ezzy, D, Aesthetic and relational ethics: beyond Bauman's postmodern ethics, Beyond Bauman: critical engagements and creative excursions, Routledge, MH Jacobsen (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 29-45. ISBN 9781472476111 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2017 selection and editorial matter, Michael Hviid Jacobsen; individual chapters, the contributors

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Zygmunt Bauman's postmodern ethics as unfolded in books such as Postmodern Ethics (1993) and Life in Fragments (1995) signals an important new direction in contrast to the orthodoxy of Emile Durkheim's 'normative' morality. Following a brief overview of Zygmunt Bauman's 'moral sociology' and how it fits with his recent liquid analysis, the first part of the chapter makes a case for the importance of Bauman's postmodern ethics for grasping moral life outside decline accounts. The second part of the chapter argues that Bauman's ethics of 'infinite responsibility' needs to be grounded within particular, emotional and embodied encounter. Taking a cue from Jeffrey C. Alexander's (2010) conceptualisation of 'iconic consciousness', the chapter suggests that Bauman's relational theory can be extended to include aesthetics and symbols as integral to ethical practice and needs to provide space for the self to establish itself as a self. The approach also draws on Sara Ahmed's sociology of emotions, Luce Irigaray's analysis of embodiment, and Judith Butler's Levinasian-inspired analysis of relations with the 'other'. Bauman, Ahmed and Alexander are all concerned with human responses to systemic cruelty, suffering and trauma. We conclude that the Levinasian/Baumanesque 'infinite responsibility' to the Other can be reconceptualised through a celebration of the uncertainty in the moment of human response to suffering. The otherness of the Other is found through embracing the uncertainty associated with the possibility of trauma in the presence of the suffering Other. Butler's (2004) analysis of the US response to 9/11 carries this argument.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:Zygmunt Bauman, postmodern ethics, moral sociology, infinite responsibility
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Hookway, N (Dr Nicholas Hookway)
UTAS Author:Ezzy, D (Professor Douglas Ezzy)
ID Code:111192
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-09-02
Last Modified:2018-04-12

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