Raimond Gaita’s work in moral philosophy is unusual and important in focusing on the concept of sainthood. Drawing partly on the work of George Orwell, and partly on the life and work of Simone Weil, as well as on further material, I argue that Gaita’s use of this notion to help make sense of the concept of human preciousness is unconvincing, not least because he does not properly explore the figure and psychology of the saint in any detail. I relatedly (...) argue that the notion of human preciousness in question is implausible and, in some ways, sentimental. I also explore Gaita’s concept of “speaking personally” in moral philosophy, and suggest that matters here are a great deal more complicated than he supposes. (shrink)
Nietzsche's tortured relationship to the Christian God has received scant attention from commentators. In this paper I seek to map out the central lines a proper understanding of Nietzsche in this regard might take. I argue that fundamental in such an understanding is Nietzsche's profoundly corporeal moral vocabulary, and I trace connections between this vocabulary and Nietzsche's concern with cleanliness, his asceticism, and the notion of a sense of common humanity with others.
In this paper I explore Nietzsche's thinking on the notions of nobility and the affirmation of life and I subject his reflections on these to criticism. I argue that we can find at least two understandings of these notions in Nietzsche's work which I call a 'worldly' and an 'inward' conception and I explain what I mean by each of these. Drawing on Homer and Dostoyevsky, the work of both of whom was crucial for Nietzsche in developing and exploring his (...) notion of worldly nobility and affirmation, I then go on to argue that Nietzsche provides us with no concrete examples of worldly nobles and that, given his historicism, he cannot. Thus Nietzsche's thinking here is broken-backed. I turn, therefore, to explore the inward notions of nobility and affirmation. Discussing Montaigne and Napoleon in the context of Nietzsche's philosophy, I argue that we can make good sense in Nietzschean terms of someone's affirming his own life in an inward sense. This, however, opens up the difference between someone's affirming his own life and his affirming life überhaupt, and I argue that Nietzsche needs to be able to make sense not just of the former but also of the latter. Referring once again to Dostoyevsky, I suggest that Nietzsche can only do so by accepting the idea that all human beings possess dignity qua human beings. This thought is, however, one that he rejects. Thus Nietzsche's reflections in this area cannot be rendered finally plausible since they depend upon something which can find no room in his philosophy. (shrink)
In this article I explore Eve Garrard's recent account of evil and some work of Colin McGinn's on the same topic. I argue that neither provides a satisfactory account of evil. In doing so, I discuss the role of conscience, sadism and indifference to the suffering of others in evil-doing. I argue that the evil-doer can be admirable and I explore the relation between agent and action in the evil deed.The idea that evil is mysterious is considered and I conclude (...) with some comments on the relation between evil and the idea of a fellowship amongst human beings. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration and interpretation of Kierkegaard's account of Christian belief. I argue that Kierkegaard believed that the Christian metaphysical tradition was exhausted and hence that there could be no defence of belief in God in purely rational terms. I defend this interpretation against objections, going on to argue that Kierkegaard thought it possible to defend a post-metaphysical conception of religious belief. I argue that Kierkegaard thought that such a defence was available if we understand correctly what it (...) is to speak with ethico-religious authority. I argue that, when interpreted in the way I outline, Kierkegaard's notion of ethico-religious authority shows his conception of religious belief to have great plausibility. However, Kierkegaard goes on to argue that an individual's true relationship with God is constituted through the cultivation of guilt and the sense of himself as a sinner, and I give reasons for rejecting this claim, arguing that such cultivation is a form of asceticism. (shrink)