Ethics & International Affairs Volume 6 (1992): Articles in "Ethics & International Affairs" Vol. 6: Power and Suspicion: The Perspectives of Reinhold Niebuhr [Abstract]

Dec 2, 1992

This essay seeks to bring Reinhold Niebuhr into the postructuralist dialogue in order to suggest that his writings are far more constructive about the human predicament. The essay begins by presenting eleven positions commonly taken by poststructuralists. It then examines similarities between Niebuhr and postructuralist thinkers in their interrogation of the Enlightenment to expose the illusions of reason and progress and in their exposure of the Marxist philosophy of history as a false teleology that dramatizes truth and freedom emerging triumphant from conflict and struggle. Instead of posing postructuralist constraints and incarceration, however, Niebuhr's theology and philosophy of history offer indeterminate potentialities for freedom. Whereas the poststructuralists fetishize systems and structures, Niebuhr believes in the possibilities of human agency. And while Foucault presents us with a theory of oppression without an oppressor, Niebuhr seeks to show how power issues from ourselves, from the sin-prone ego that prevents consciousness from rising to knowledge of the motives for its own actions. The essay argues, finally, that in Niebuhr power and morality meet in one, with a suspicious glance at the disavowal of power and the pretensions of morality, and with responsibility for the use of power remaining within mind, will, and conscience.

To read or purchase the full text of this article, click here.

You may also like

AUG 27, 2021 Journal

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 35.2 (Summer 2021)

The highlight of this issue is a roundtable organized by Adrian Gallagher on the responsibility to protect in a changing world order. The roundtable contains ...

Image via <a href=""></a>

OCT 7, 2019 Podcast

Making AI Work, Ethically & Responsibly, with Heather M. Roff

Heather M. Roff, senior research analyst at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, thinks some researchers are having the wrong conversations about AI. Instead of ...

CREDIT: <a href="">Pixabay</a>

AUG 7, 2019 Podcast

AI & Human Rights: The Practical & Philosophical Dimensions, with Mathias Risse

Mathias Risse, director of Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, discusses the many connections between artificial intelligence and human rights. From practical ...