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November 2, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Ontology preceeds ethics

I can’t explain it as Dillon explains it, but its just that:

Our ontological assumptions…..undergird our ethical decision making–you can’t make ethical decisions until you ground them in definitions & a conception of reality & the fundamental nature of things and human relations. We’re indicting the fundamental assumptions of your categories & your ideas of what makes ethics in the first place. Also, ontology deals with the fundamental nature of being (ie human begins & existence) and reality–both of which are (arguably) deeper than ethics.

On the flip side a bit……..I think you can make the argument that a worldview is a worldview–and the assumptions there of. Although this means you need to be answering the assumptions of their worldview and/or impact turning their alternative (which in some ways might be one in the same).

Ontology precedes ethics—ontological interrogations PRECEDE the Affirmative’s political and technocratic call for action

Dillon 99 (Michael, professor of International Relations at the University of Lancaster, Moral Spaces: Rethinking Ethics and World Politics, p. 97-8)

As Heidegger–himself an especially revealing figure of the deep and mutual implication of the philosophical and the political–never tired of pointing out, the relevance of ontology to all other kinds of thinking is fundamental and inescapable. For one cannot say anything about anything that is, without always already having made assumptions about the is as such. Any mode of thought, in short, always already carries an ontology sequestered within it. What this ontological turn does to other–regional–modes of thought is to challenge the ontology within which they operate. The implications of that review reverberate throughout the entire mode of thought, demanding a reappraisal as fundamental as the reappraisal ontology has demanded of philosophy.
With ontology at issue, the entire foundations or underpinnings of any mode of thought are rendered problematic. This applies as much to any modern discipline of thought as it does to the question of modernity as such, with the exception, it seems, of science, which, having long ago giving up the ontological questioning of when it called itself natural philosophy, appears now, in its industrialized and corporatized form, to be invulnerable to ontological perturbation. With its foundations at issue, the very authority of a mode of thought and the ways in which it characterizes the critical issues of freedom and judgment (of what kind of universe human beings inhabit, how they inhabit it, and what counts as reliable knowledge for them in it) is also put in question. The very ways in which Nietzsche, Heidegger, and other continental philosophers challenged Western ontology, simultaneously, therefore reposed the fundamental and inescapable difficulty, or aporia, for human being of decision and judgment.
In other words, whatever ontology you subscribe to, knowingly or unknowingly, as a human being you still have to act. Whether or not you know or acknowledge it, the ontology you subscribe to will construe the problem of action for you in one way rather than another. You may think ontology is some arcane question of philosophy, but Nietzsche and Heidegger showed that it intimately shapes not only a way of thinking, but a way of being, a form of life. Decision, a fortiori political decision, in short, is no mere technique. It is instead of a way of being that bears an understanding of Being, and of the fundaments of the human way of being within it. This applies, indeed applies most, to those mocking political slaves to claim only to be technocrats of decision making


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  1. compassioninpolitics / Nov 2 2012 11:46 pm

    Page 60 to 67 includes the answers to this argument:

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