So, if attention to the other is central for a sense of the ethical, it would appear that convivial enjoyment of another is more important than suffering on his behalf. Moreover, if a person can only be known as other via communication, then I cannot remove myself as a participant in this situation. The German Roman Catholic philosopher Robert Spaemann has expressed this point very well: giving food to those in need, he observes, can occur as a one-way gift from those who have to those who have not, or it can occur in a feast, where all eat together. In the feast egotism is mitigated, since here one eats only if one eats along with others; and yet at the same time one does eat, and so selfhood is not eradicated. This image of the feast suggests for Spaemann that what is supremely good is the ecstatic-not in the sense of departing from life, but in the sense of living life as departing from oneself while in this very departing receiving oneself back again. In other words, beyond the ancient Greek quest for happiness in security, he proposes living convivially through generosity to the other and through receiving back again from the other.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Milbank on Self-Sacrifice
Giving food to the hungry is good; sharing a meal with them is better.