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Embodied Care

Embodied Care: Jane Addams, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Feminist Ethics

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Embodied Care
    Book Description:

    Until now, ethicists have said little about the body, limiting their comments on it to remarks made in passing or, at best, devoting a chapter to the subject. Embodied Care is the first work to argue for the body's centrality to care ethics, doing so by analyzing our corporeality at the phenomenological level. It develops the idea that our bodies are central to our morality, paying particular attention to the ways we come to care for one another._x000B__x000B_Hamington's argues that human bodies are "built to care"; as a result, embodiment must be recognized as a central factor in moral consideration. He takes the reader on an exciting journey from modern care ethics to Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of the body and then to Jane Addams's social activism and philosophy. The ideas in Embodied Care do not lead to yet another competing theory of morality; rather, they progress through theory and case studies to suggest that no theory of morality can be complete without a full consideration of the body. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09146-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Care—an Evolving Definition
    (pp. 1-8)

    Breathing differs somewhat from most other involuntary body functions. The process continues without conscious control, as do all such functions, yet we can consciously and intentionally regulate it. We can attend to and control our breathing or completely ignore its ongoing rhythm in our lives. In fact, despite its involuntary nature, it figures as a focal point for relaxation and wellness techniques that involve efforts at deep, slow breathing. Care, too, is so basic to human functioning that we can easily overlook it as a significant element in moral decision making. When we choose to do so, however, we can...

  5. 1. The Landscape of Current Care Discourse
    (pp. 9-37)

    A chapter in American history about something that appears to be a quintessentially noncaring struggle for power reveals the pervasive significance of care. In the 1840 s Frederick Douglass (1818–95) became a powerful force for the abolitionist movement through his brilliant oratory and captivating writing. Douglass addressed social justice in his speaking tours, but he knew that his message had to bridge the tremendous gap between his experiences and those of white audiences in New England and the Midwest. His dark skin elicited objectification: “I was generally introduced as a ‘chattel’—a ‘ thing’—a piece of southern ‘property’—...

  6. 2. Merleau-Ponty and Embodied Epistemology: Caring Habits and Caring Knowledge
    (pp. 38-60)

    In the middle of his career William Shakespeare wroteThe Merchant of Venice.Typical of Shakespearean comedies,The Merchant of Venicecreates merriment through deception and romantic misunderstanding. One of the play’s subplots, however, explores human prejudice and the need for revenge. Antonio, the merchant of Venice, is a Christian who lends money without charging interest because of the prevalent Christian belief that the Bible prohibits assessing interest on debt. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who charges interest, similarly employing biblical grounds to justify his practice. Antonio publicly denounces both Shylock and the Judaism on which his practices are based....

  7. 3. Caring Imagination: Bridging Personal and Social Morality
    (pp. 61-88)

    The moral analysis of the Holocaust can never be exhausted, nor should it be. Although care ethics attests to the notion that morality is more than events, the enormity of the Holocaust’s human suffering will continually motivate ethicists to understand the precipitating dynamics and work to ensure that the tragedy is never replicated. Hannah Arendt (1906–75) attempted to make sense of the senselessness of the Holocaust. An activist and philosopher with a tremendous intellectual pedigree (her teachers and mentors included Rudolf Bultmann, Martin Heidegger, and Karl Jaspers), Arendt, a German Jew, narrowly escaped long-term incarceration and possible execution by...

  8. 4. Jane Addams and the Social Habits of Care
    (pp. 89-121)

    In 1871 the feminist author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps penned the novelThe Silent Partner,which critiques industrial capitalism and the social distance that accompanies class stratification in the United States. The protagonist is Perley Kelso, whose father owns a stake in a textile mill. Kelso is an upperclass woman engaged to one of the mill’s other owners, but beyond spending summers in the mill town, she has had little to do with the company. Early in the novel Kelso’s father dies, and leaves her his interest in the mill. When she attempts to participate in operating the business, however, the...

  9. 5. What Difference Does Embodied Care Make? A Study of Same-Sex Marriage
    (pp. 122-144)

    Widows and Children First, the third play of Harvey Fierstein’sTorch Song Trilogy,relates the tale of Arnold Beckoff, a gay man who has recently lost his partner of five years, Alan, in a brutal hate crime. Arnold struggles to convey his grief to his mother, who has recently lost her husband of thirty-five years to an illness. In one scene Arnold tries to explain to his mother why he is participating in a foster-parenting program, and the conversation turns into a examination of the feelings of homosexuals in a committed relationship.

    Arnold: Because I was tired of widowing.


  10. Conclusion: Experiencing One Another, Deconstructing Otherness, Joyfully Moving Ahead
    (pp. 145-148)

    Jane Addams’s simple yet powerful mandate that we boldly experience one another to create sympathetic knowledge and a more cohesive society is a roadmap for overcoming the boundaries that prevent caring in society today. There is a moral challenge in the tension between the push of individuation and the pull of community—the problem of the one and the many. In response to this challenge, we have sometimes artificially imposed claims about one another that have created “otherness.” Here I am not addressing the simple alterity necessary for considering creatures separate from ourselves. Rather, I am concerned with a potentially...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-166)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-176)
  13. Index
    (pp. 177-182)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-184)