Re: Ethics and Poststructuralism

Perhaps it is time to re-post a quote from The Order of Things that was
posted here a while ago:

"The modern (ethical form) formulates no morality, since any imperative
is lodged within thought and its movement towards the apprehension of the
unthought; it is reflection, the act of consciousness, the elucidation of
what is silent, language restored to what it mute, the illmination of
the element of darkness that cuts man off from himself, the reanimation
of the inert -- it is all this and this alone that constituted the
content and the form of the ethical. Modern thought has never, in fact,
been able to propose a morality. But the reason for this is not
because it is pure speculation; on the contrary, modern thought, from its
inception and in its very density, is a certain mode of action. Let
those who urge thought to leave its retreat and to formulate its choices
talk on; and let those who seek, without any pledge and in the absence
of virtue, to establish a morality do as they wish. For modern thought,
no morality is possible. Thought had already 'left' itself in its own
being as early as the nineteenth century; it is no longer theoretical.
As soon as it functions it offends or recoils, attracts or repels,
breaks, dissociates, unites or reunites; it cannot help but liberate and
enslave. Even before prescribing, suggesting a future, saying what must
be done, even before exhorting or merely sounding an alarm, thought, at
the level of its existence, in its very dawning, is in itself an action
-- a perilous act. Sade, Nietzsche, Artaud, and Bataille have understood
this on behalf of all those who tried to ignore it; but it is also
certain that that Hegel, Marx and Freud knew it. Can we say that it is
not known by those who, in their profound stupidity, assert that there is
no philosophy without political choice, that all thought is either
'progressive' or 'reactionary'? Their foolishness is to believe that all
thought 'expresses' the ideology of a class; their involuntary profundity
is that they point directly at the modern mode of being of thought.
Superficially, one might say that knowledge of man, unlike the sciences
of nature, is always linked, even in its vaguest form, to ethics or
politics; more fundamentally, modern thought is advancing towards the
region where man's Other must become the Same as himself."



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