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Philosophical Blindness: A Hypothetical Understanding Of Ethics

1485 words - 6 pages

Philosophical Blindness: A Hypothetical Understanding of Ethics

In Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness (1997), the readers are introduced to a

bizarre world where the entire population has been affected by a blindness

epidemic. Strange enough, a main character, the doctor’s wife, is presented into the

plot as the only immune person to the blindness. Every reader somehow absorbs

the struggles each characters exposes throughout the novel and ponders how life

would be in such circumstances. The struggles the characters depict as they bare

through the epidemic lead the readers towards philosophical questioning in order

to reason how such tragedy would be possible. Of course, the main difference

between the philosophy exposed through Blindness and the real-world philosophy

would be the ethical value and moral choices people might take while living in a

blind world, rather than choices taken in a world where every movement and action

is judged. Philosophy is moderately explained in Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein’s

book Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar (2008), where the various foundations of

philosophy are exposed to the readers. By understanding this book, Blindness

becomes a hypothetical base for new questions regarding life. The philosophical

foundations of Ethics, as explained in Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar, are used to

understand the moral boundaries that are set in Blindness.

Ultimately, the true meaning of what is considered “good” as to what is

considered “bad” becomes reflected through the golden rule: “Do unto others as you

would have others do unto you.” Yet this is all put into perspective through what is

assumed to be a world where everybody is able to see and judge others accordingly

to their actions. In Blindness the ability to see is no longer existent, thus introducing

a world where ethical values and judgment are irrelevant as much as non-existent.

Saramago insists on these ideals and claims throughout Blindness that people are

only the way they are because the can see. On page 126 the author wrote “Perhaps

only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” The previous quote

depicts the author’s analysis of ethics and moral values and attempts to prove how a

person is only completely morally correct when he/she is being seen. When the

world is blind, who is to say that something is right or wrong? This dilemma found

in Blindness where ethical values are, in theory, non-existent, can be understood by

interpreting the foundations of philosophical Ethics. For example, Emotivism Ethics

discuss what it means for actions to be good or bad, and suggest that each person

will find the answer to that inquiry by pondering whether or not they approve of an

action or how comfortable they feel about an action. “Does ‘x is good’ mean only ‘I

approve of x’?” (Page 87, Cathcart-Klein). This being said, a distinct conflict between

ethical values becomes evident...

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