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Introduction: Ethical Approaches in Contemporary German-Language Literature and Culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Emily Jeremiah
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Frauke Matthes
Affiliation:
Lecturer in German at the University of Edinburgh.
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Summary

Ethics, Postmodernism, and the “Ethical Turn”

Ethics, or moral philosophy, involves the study of morality, and morality concerns beliefs about right and wrong behaviors and good and bad persons or character. As a branch of thought, ethics may seek to prescribe, describe, apply, or theorize moral actions and approaches. Ethical reflections appear not only in explicitly philosophical texts, but also in literary narrative and in films, among other kinds of discourse, and there are longstanding discussions about the nature and value of such nonphilosophical investigations and representations. This volume, the seventh Edinburgh German Yearbook, offers a contribution to such discussions. It brings together explorations of the ethical approaches apparent in a wide range of literary and filmic texts that have emerged in the contemporary German-language context. The essays that feature here vary in their methods and theoretical underpinnings, but there are a number of concerns that run through the collection: the relationship between self and other; the connection between particular and general; the personal and political consequences of individuals' actions; and the potential, and danger, of representation itself. The volume thus reflects on and contributes to debates about a highly topical, widely experienced contemporary crisis of values. Christopher Bennett argues, “There is […] reason to think that we have a particular need for ethics because of the kind of society we live in. […] [Our] society seems […] to be characterised by moral disagreement, and by our being able to choose between a variety of ways of life, and a variety of belief systems”; thus, “we exist in a state of moral uncertainty.” Dissent and relativism are indeed arguably hallmarks of our age.

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Edinburgh German Yearbook 7
Ethical Approaches in Contemporary German-Language Literature and Culture
, pp. 1 - 12
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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