It’s easy to speak ethical cliches. Yes, we all believe in equality. Yes, we’re all opposed to exploitation. Yes, we despise the ravages and horrors of capitalism. No, we aren’t for the promotion of needless suffering. Yes, we want people to be free to pursue their own aims. Sexual liberation ad freedom? Yes please! Destruction of the environment and extinction of other species? No thanks. Authority? Yuck, you fascist pigs. Everyone’s against eating babies and kicking kittens. We’re all against bad spelling, punctuation, and bad grammar too. We’re also against those that don’t forgive it.
Discussing your ethics and politics in academia is bit like showing your papers at the gates of the Berlin wall. One wonders why the question comes up at all. Yet to really speak your ethics– and I mean in the sense of a Kierkegaard –now that’s hard. Doing so is a bit like ripping your soul out and holding it out to the public for scrutiny. When one really speaks about ethics she’s not articulating a rule, but the very essence of her style of being… Her conatus itself. Sometimes I suspect that only philistines, one-dimensional beings, can bear speaking their ethics. Everyone else is too busy being it. Even more indecent is someone who asks for it. The question always implies either that you approve of eating babies and kicking kittens, or is a request to rip your conatus out and submit it to the public. I’m with James. Deeds, not words.