Fatherhood and the Promise of Ethics

Kelly Oliver

in Styles of Piety

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225002
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237081 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Fatherhood and the Promise of                 Ethics

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The premise of this chapter is that Nietzsche was essentially correct in saying that Judeo-Christian ethics were invented by enslaved people seeking to elevate themselves by lowering and hating their masters, while master morality ignored those who were different. This philosophy allowed the value of this world to transcend the spiritual world, though modern technology—a byproduct of this new vision—ironically threatens to destroy life itself, such that Nietzsche’s noble indifference can no longer be maintained. To this end, Oliver examines three tales of ethics, by Ricoeur, Levinas, and Derrida, respectively, that offer a kind of resurrection of piety, without the supposed pitfalls of monotheism. The common paradigm in all three tales is that of the father-son relationship, which reveals that ethics has an inner tension between the individual and the universal, between equality and singularity, and between law and what lies beyond the law.

Keywords: Nietzsche; Ricoeur; Levinas; Derrida; father-son relationship; ethics; morals; Abraham; Jesus; sacrifice

Chapter.  8489 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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