ISSEI 16th Conference
Moral versus Immoral—great cinema from the very beginning. We turned to one and wished death to the other. But as an old proverb says: those who are dead live longer. Morality was mortal, while immorality seemed to be immortal. Speechless, we stopped talking about immorality, and over time we forgot the difference between immorality and morality. This is the starting point for reflection on the term immorality.
To move confidently between amorality and immorality, to experience the difference, also means to infiltrate a gap and thus to experience the distinction between humanity and inhumanity. Why? To not dissolve in your own infirmity and to survive in the feeling
Described by Jacques Derrida: “One wants to live as much as possible, to save oneself, to perservere, and to cultivate all these things whicht, though infinitely greater and more powerful than oneself, nonetheless form a part of this little “me” that the exceed on all sides.
To ask me to renounce what formed me, what I’ve loved so much, what has been my law, is to ask me to die.” (Derrda, Lerning to Live Finally, 31-31) But here a basic problem arises: Immorality always shaped the human being. It seems as if immorality became a constitutive element in the history of humankind. What if we love immorality? To see this, requires a revolution. Perhaps, as I once formulated it, we need a revolution of conscience or, to go one step further: Do we have to face and immerse impuissance in order to emerge as human beings? (Manfé, Revolutionen des Gewissens; Ohnmacht). Yes, to become humane, we must break the law. No, we do not ignore the law, but to stay with Derrida, we need a “disobedience with regard to some legislative provision in the name of a better or higher law …” (43) Such a law would show consideration on the complexity of the issues. In our topic, it would bring the immoral behaviour out of balance.
The moral foundation of power is visible, as Rancière wrote in The Ignorant Schoolmaster (37). But what is the moral basis of human beings? To recognize? We are all outlawed, we are all criminals and murderers at the bottom of our hearts, writes Henry Miller, and yes, this is to be recognized, and this is quite a moral basis of people: “It is not our business to get after the murderers, but to get after the murderer which exists in each and every one of us. And I mean byy murder the supreme kind which consists in murdering the spirit. (Miller, The Immorality of Morality, 87)
An emancipated community is a community of narrators and translators (Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, 33). So the idea is to talk about immorality, visualise it, and by doing so, make it mortal.
Manfé, Michael. Ohnmacht. Hamburg: Avinus, 2016.
Manfé, Michael. Revolutionen des Gewissens. Hamburg: Avinus, 2015.
Miller, Henry. Stand Still Like the Hummingbird. New York: New Directions, 1962.
Derrida, Jacques. Learning to Live Finally. The Last Interview. New York: Melville House,
Rancière, Jacques. The Emancipated Spectator. New York: Verso, 2011.
Rancière, Jacques. The Ignorant Schoolmaster. Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation.
Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 1991.