embedded in a complex moral ecology

fermaine12

Member
Sweden
"The Lockean ideal of the autonomous individual was, in the eighteenth century, embedded in a complex moral ecology that included family and church on the one hand and on the other a vigorous public sphere in which economic initiative, it was hoped, grew together with public spirit...The eighteenth century idea of a public was...a discursive community capable of thinking about the public good."
What does it mean for an autonomous individual to be embedded in a complex moral ecology? What's a complex moral ecology? What does it mean for a complex moral ecology to include a vigorous public sphere ”in which economic initiative grow together with public spirit.”

What does it mean for a ”idea of public” to be ”a discursive community capable of thinking about the public good.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Who are you quoting, fermaine12? It is always helpful to include the author and the title of any book or article that you quote in the forum.

    What does it mean for an autonomous individual to be embedded in a complex moral ecology?
    It sounds like a literary way to say that individuals had to function in environments in which people had developed complex ideas and expectations regarding moral behavior.

    What does it mean for a complex moral ecology to include a vigorous public sphere ”in which economic initiative grow together with public spirit.”
    I interpret this to mean that people who wanted to prosper economically also had to show public spirit as they went about doing their best to make money. Perhaps they were expected to donate some of their money to charity...
     

    abluter

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Ecology" is nowadays most often used in a biological context, referring to the way organisms react to their physical environment. A "moral ecology" must refer to the way different moral structures or systems interact - for instance, family and church on one had and commercial and municipal activity on the other, as the writer specifies. It's "complex" because there may be an element of conflict and the necessity for subtle adjustment in this required interaction, and because society in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was not staying still, but advancing to the many-faceted condition of modern civilization.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    What does it mean for an autonomous individual to be embedded in a complex moral ecology? What's a complex moral ecology? What does it mean for a complex moral ecology to include a vigorous public sphere ”in which economic initiative grow together with public spirit.”

    What does it mean for a ”idea of public” to be ”a discursive community capable of thinking about the public good.
    I think the implied contrast must be to a modern world where many people in the English speaking or European countries are *not* embedded in strong moral constraints of church or family, and do *not* see public sphere and personal self interest or business growth as mutually self-supporting.

    In this context, the autonomous Lockean self is still bound by numerous duties. By contrast, a 20th or 21st century adult could well be functioning in a world with no duties towards family or church. They could also believe that their personal economic growth requires that they ignore any questions of the greater public good, and concentrate on getting rich fast. That I think is the comparison being made implicitly here. Indeed, many actual politicians behave today as if the greater public good is irrelevant to their own career advancement.

    So Kant's autonomous individual is not the morally unanchored totally self interested free agent that is accepted as a model in our era.
     
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