I will be giving a talk on the first half of one the chapters I am adding to my book “Continental Anti-Realism on Value.” I’ve uploaded a newer and more revised version to my academia.edu page. I’ve been rushed to get it done and finished so I can move onto other self-imposed projects and deadlines. You’ll notice that I have not given an interpretation of Caputo as an anti-realist about value, though such an insight just may logically follow by adopting deconstructionist constraint on metaphysics.
I do not hold “value theory” in high regard either, which is form me just more “ethics,” i.e., more metaphysics…I am not prepared to turn over the question of “obligation” to value theory. I do not regard the bond that binds obligation to disaster to be a matter of a “value” we should “hold” or a “claim” we “make.” Obligation is rather—this is what a poetics of obligations brings out and where it starts—a matter of being claimed, in which something has a hold on us, something that is older than us, that has us before we have it.[i]
[i] Caputo, Against, 31.
For Caputo, ethics just amounts to more unwanted metaphysics. In my talk, I attempt to establish the main crux I have with Caputo’s pronouncements against ethics and obligation, but also try to accommodate some of what he claims against ethics. For him, obligations just happen. They occur under their own power, and they compel and bind us from behind without our choosing. And if we are honest about that, then ethics has nothing to hold onto. At best, all ethics could be is a reification of these disclosive events of comingg to feel and understand the power and allure of obligation on us. In this way, you could say that Caputo may be right about institutional ethics, but not accurate about a form of ethics that could very well meet his overall criticism, i.e., phenomenological ethics. If phenomenological ethics is a form of moral realism about the status of value, and particularist about the role such values play in moral life, then even a more nuanced criticism of Caputo should be offered by him rather than the tout court criticism he offers through deconstructionism. Caputo is too big for his own britches against ethics.
I am still open to criticism and commentary. Part of writing this blog is to receive more commentary on one’s work, share it, improve it, revise it, and offer the same for others. However, I am learning that people are way too busy, that nobody cares to foster or cultivate their art of communicating philosophy on their own, let alone read what I write about Caputo. I feel this to be contrary to my interest in attempting to become a better philosopher, the interest of others, and fostering the love of philosophy in my daily life. Even though it is one of my greatest joys in life, philosophy is becoming slightly alienating since nobody practices the Deweyan adage of being “part of a community of inquirers” they have chosen to espouse professionally.
There is no community at the edges of the profession, and more of us are on the edge, on the precipice looking into it.