A provocative and entirely new account of ethical reasoning that reconceives the traditional understanding of ethical action negatively
In this radical reconsideration of ethical reasoning in contemporary European philosophy, Drew M. Dalton makes the case for an absolutely grounded account of ethical normativity developed from a scientifically informed and purely materialistic metaphysics. Expanding on speculative realist arguments, Dalton argues that the limits placed on the nature of ethical judgments by Kant’s critique can be overcome through a moral evaluation of the laws of nature—specifically, the entropic principle that undergirds the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. In order to extract a moral meaning from this simple material fact, Dalton scrutinizes the presumptions of classical accounts and traditional understandings of good and evil within the history of Western philosophy and ultimately asserts that ethical normativity can be reestablished absolutely without reverting to dogmatism.
By overturning our assumptions about the nature and value of reality, The Matter of Evil: From Speculative Realism to Ethical Pessimism presents a provocative new model of ethical responsibility that is both logically justifiable and scientifically sound. Dalton argues for “ethical pessimism,” a position previously marginalized in the West, as a means to cultivate an account of ethical responsibility and political activism that takes seriously the unbecoming of being and the moral horror of existence.
Acknowledgments Introduction – The Matter of Evil Chapter 1 –After Kant: The End of Western Metaphysics and Ethics? Chapter 2 – Absolutes within the Bounds of Reason: Speculative Realism and the Return of the Absolute Chapter 3 – Towards a Post-Critical Ethics: Meillassoux and Badiou on the Mathematization of Nature and the Possibility of Absolute Metaphysical and Moral Claims Chapter 4 – The Science of Entropic Absolutes: The (Dis)Order of Nature Chapter 5 – The Value of Science and the Science of Value: Re-Evaluating the Moral Neutrality of Material Reality Chapter 6 – Moral Value and Absolute Necessity: Baruch Spinoza's Metaphysical Monism Chapter 7 – The Monstrous Will of Nature: Arthur Schopenhauer's Ethical Monism Chapter 8 – The Specter of Nihilism: Friedrich Nietzsche's Moral Naturalism Chapter 9 – The Ethical Potency of Pessimism: Schopenhauerian Negation, Buddhist Renunciation, and the Political Activism of Philipp Mainländer Chapter 10 – New Directions in Pessimism: Cosmic Pessimism, Afropessimism, and Extinctual Nihilism Conclusion – From Speculative Realism to Ethical Pessimism: The Evangel of Entropy and the Ethics of Resistance Notes Bibliography Index
DREW M. DALTON is a professor of philosophy at Dominican University. His previous books include The Ethics of Resistance:Tyranny of the Absolute.
"What if nature were evil rather than good or morally neutral? Drew M. Dalton ably defends this counterintuitive hypothesis and rigorously draws out its normative consequences. His critical engagement with the history of continental philosophy is thorough and impressive." —Andrew Cutrofello, author of All for Nothing: Hamlet's Negativity
“Drew M. Dalton writes with clarity, passion, and purpose, weaving together philosophical, mathematical, and scientific perspectives. Grounded in ethical pessimism, this book offers a truly entropic moral theory that will profoundly illuminate and deeply unsettle readers.” —Shannon M. Mussett, author of Entropic Philosophy: Chaos, Breakdown, and Creation
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