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Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein$
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Veena Das

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287895

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287895.001.0001

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Ordinary Ethics

Ordinary Ethics

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(p.96) 3 Ordinary Ethics
Textures of the Ordinary

Veena Das

Fordham University Press

This chapter makes a case for ordinary ethics as distinct from normative ethics. Rather than assigning a separate domain for ethics with its own specialized vocabulary for moral life deployed by experts, this chapter argues that we could think of ethics as a spirit that suffuses everyday life, somewhat like logic, as it permeates everyday activities. Much discussion on ethics accords a centrality to moments of breakdown and to principles for making choices in hard cases. While there is a place in social life for occasions that demand a muscular definition of the good, the bad, and the righteous, an exclusive emphasis on such moments eclipses those other moments when moral sensibilities are displayed in quotidian acts of care and sustenance. While recognizing the importance of habit as the fly-wheel of society, the chapter argues that sedimentation of experience is only one aspect of habit, the other being the innovations and improvisations through which the particularity of the concrete other is recognized

Keywords:   care, choice, concrete others, experience, habit, improvisation, ordinary ethics

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