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Disorientation and Moral Life$
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Ami Harbin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277390.001.0001

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What Is Disorientation in Thinking?

What Is Disorientation in Thinking?

(p.65) 3 What Is Disorientation in Thinking?
Disorientation and Moral Life

Ami Harbin

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that some disorientations prompt individuals to gain new awareness in politically and morally important ways, even when they do not prompt capacities for decisive moral judgment or confidence. It investigates disorientations of experiencing racism, white privilege, consciousness-raising, and critical education, drawing on first-person, philosophical, and empirical accounts of double consciousness (W. E. B. Du Bois), white anti-racism, moral shock, double ontological shock (Sandra Bartky), gaslighting, outlaw emotions (Alison Jaggar), and feminist pedagogy. It demonstrates how, in some cases, these disorientations generate awareness of contingent oppressive norms and of political complexity, and it then argues for the moral and political significance of such awareness. Even as it does not help individuals resolve how to act, such awareness can generate epistemic humility, allow individuals to relate differently to their histories and communities of origin, and clarify the necessity of collaborative rather than individual action.

Keywords:   disorientation, awareness, oppression, consciousness-raising, racism, white privilege, double consciousness, W. E. B. Du Bois, moral judgment, norms

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