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Paradigm Lost

Paradigm Lost

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04/20/2014

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Thesis Eleven 
Niklas Luhmann
Prize 1988Paradigm Lost: On the Ethical Reflection of Morality : Speech on the Occasion of the Award of the Hegel
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 at UNIV OF OTTAWA LIBRARY on September 3, 2011the.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
 
82
PARADIGM
LOST: ON
THE
ETHICALREFLECTION
OF
MORALITY
Speech on the Occasion
of
the
 Award
of
the
Hegel
Prize
1988
Niklas Luhmann
I.
When
a
sociologist
conscious of
his
discipline
concerns
himself
with
theo-
retical
matters
which
are
normally
treated
by
philosophers,
it
is
inevitablethat
other
aspects
come
to
the
fore.
Whether
this
can
lead
to
a
fruitful
dialogue
between
the
disciplines
can
hardly
be
determined
in
the
abstract.
The
honour
which
you
accord
me
with
the
award
of
the
Hegel
Prize
offers
an
opportunity
to
pursue
this
question
by
means
of
an
example.
Currently
ethics
is
often
referred
to
in
the
most
diverse
contexts.
In
the
&dquo;New
Westphalian&dquo;
newspaper
for
instance
I
read
on
6
July
1988:
&dquo;While
the
producers
of
ethical
products
complain
about
state
intervention,
the
sales
of
the
producers
of self-medications
are
slowly
but
constantly
growing&dquo;.
One
might
first
ask:
is
ethics
no
longer
a
self-medication?
 And
then
the
suspicion
arises
that
a
printing
error
could
be
involved.’
 All
the
more
remarkable,
Sigmund
Freud
would
have
said,
the
ethics
wave
has
reached
the
unconscious.
One
should
not
be
too
surprised.
The
ethics
wave
returns
in
the
eighties
of
every
century
with
astrological
regularity-at
least
since
the
spread
of
printing.
In
the
eighties
of
the
16thcentury
there
is
the
impressive
Justus
Lipsius
and
what
later
came
to
be
called
neostoicism.
Some
scholars
date
the
beginnings
of
a
theory
of
morality
independent
of
theology
from
around
1580.~
Perhaps
that
is
exaggerated.
 At
any
event
we
find
a
hundred
years
later
after
long
discussionsof
the
problem
of
sincere
devotion
a
new
theoretical
formulation.
The
old
schema
virtue/vice
becomes
superseded:
the
one
side
of
virtue
is
further
split
 
 at UNIV OF OTTAWA LIBRARY on September 3, 2011the.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
 
83
into
true
and
false
virtues.
True
virtue
is
left
to
the
theologians as
an
empty
concept
which
is
elucidated
by
reference
to
false
virtues.3
Since
the
theologians
cannot
theoretically
solve
the
problem
thereby
posed
but
devote
themselves
to
warnings,
lament
and
abuse,
further
development
stagnates.4
In
its
place
the
concept
of
self-love
is
radicalized
and
going
with
this
the
difference
between
divine
providence
and
secular
(human) order
is
accentuated.5
This
leads
to
a
conception
of
morality
in
which
self-love
is
itself
socialized
and
consequently
the
moral
rules
are
no
longer
understood
as
specifications
of
the
will
of
God,
as
is
still
the
case
with
Locke,6
but
as
the
crystallization
of
natural
feelings.’
Social
analysis
emancipates
itself
from
the
theologians’
claim
to
be
ahle
to
observe
God
and
know
his
criteria,
and
thus
from
the
associated
self-doubt.
In
its
place
the
conditions
of
social
order
start
being explored
in
their
own
terms.
Social
development,
however,
soon
disappointed
the
hopes
thus
grounded
and
compelled
a
new
form
of
reflection
on
the
grounding
of
moral
judgments
in
rationality.
In
the
eighties
of
the18th
century
Kant
takes
the
German
sep-
arate
path
of
transcendentalism.
In
the
West
Bentham
inaugurates
the
efforts
towards
a
utilitarian
calculus
of
rationality.
There
appears
at
the
same
time
from
prison
the inverted
philosophy
ofthe
Marquis
de
sade.~
These
three
vari-
ants
establishfor
the
first
time
ethics
as
a
theoreticalreflection
of
morality.
But
what
is
new
here?
In
terms
of
the
history
of
philosophy
one
is
naturally
impressed
by
the
enormous
expenditure
of
intellectual effort
and
by
a
solicitude
for
theoretical
construction
hitherto
unknown
in
these
questions-as
if
as
it
were
ethics
had
to
secure
itself
as
theory
against
doubts
regarding
morality.
The
sociologist
is
struck rather
by
the
abandonment
of
the
old
unity
of
morality
and
manners.
That
was
not
yet
the
case
with
Harrington,
or
Montesquieu
or
the
Scottish
moral
philosophers-to
name
only
a
few.
The
old
ethics
and
the
unity
of
morality
and
manners
had
always
depended
on
social
stratification
and
then
finally
in
the18th
century
on
questions
of
property
distrihution.
The
new
approach
of
ethical
reflection
at
the
end
of
the
18th
century
breaks with
this.
 And
perhaps
we
can
explain
the
excessive
investment
in
theory-or
if
we
include
Sade:
the
excessive
investment
in
scandal-which
is
now
necessary
simply
in
the
following
way:
given
the
radical
restructuring
of
the
social
system
the
reference
to
the
social
system
society
had
to
be
abandoned
and
could
not
be
replaced.
The
next
wave
arrives
on
time.
 After
a
long
period
of abstinence
lectures
on
ethics
fill
the
lecture
lists
of
German
universities
at
the
beginning
of
the
eighties
of the
19th
century.
The
neo-Kantians
also
take
up
these
&dquo;practical&dquo;
questions,9
not
without
provoking
violent
immune
reactions
a
la
Nietzsche.
Nationalism,
imperialism,
colonialism,
socialism
and
similar
monsters
are
the
questions
of
the
day.
 And
once
again
ethics
is
looked
to
for
help.
Natu-
rally
there
are
hardly
any
theoretical
innovations
working mentioning-unless
of
course
you
regard
the
revaluation
of the
concept
of
value,
the
distinction
 
 at UNIV OF OTTAWA LIBRARY on September 3, 2011the.sagepub.comDownloaded from 

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