Ground zero for a post-moral ethics in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace and Julia Kristeva’s melancholic

Continental Philosophy Review 45 (1):1-22 (2012)
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Perhaps no other novel has received as much attention from moral philosophers as South African writer J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace . The novel is ethically compelling and yet no moral theory explains its force. Despite clear Kantian moments, neither rationalism nor self-respect can account for the strange ethical task that the protagonist sets for himself. Calling himself the dog man, like the ancient Cynics, this shamelessly cynical protagonist takes his cues for ethics not from humans but from animals. He does not however claim much in the way of empathy or understanding of animals, and his own odd motives remain a puzzle throughout the stages of his ethical transformation. Many scholars approach Coetzee’s text through an ethics of alterity, and even argue that Disgrace is exemplary in this regard. Kristeva’s rendition of alterity ethics brings us close to the novel’s vision, and yet the novel points towards a more primordial basis for ethics in the search for meaning through the human encounter with other animal species
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