September is an important month straddling the likes of Back2School/ College/Work after the holidays and International Charity Day.1https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-days-and-weeks During this latest equinox period I find myself challenged to re-purpose, and reinforce positive motivations and the beliefs they’re based on. A number of rounds of introspection brought me to the simple realisation that “I care about what’s going in on in and around me and ‘my’ world.” From reviewing how to raise my care-effectiveness, there follows a piece on the basics of care–it’s ethics (source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; my bold emphases).
Because it depends upon contextual considerations, care is notoriously difficult to define. As Ruddick points out, at least three distinct but overlapping meanings of care have emerged in recent decades—an ethic defined in opposition to justice, a kind of labor, and a particular relationship (1998, 4). However, in care ethical literature, ‘care’ is most often defined as a practice, value, disposition, or virtue, and is frequently portrayed as an overlapping set of concepts. For example, Held notes that care is a form of labor, but also an ideal that guides normative judgment and action, and she characterizes care as “clusters” of practices and values (2006, 36, 40). One of the most popular definitions of care, offered by Tronto and Bernice Fischer, construes care as “a species of activity that includes everything we do to maintain, contain, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, ourselves, and our environment”. This definition posits care fundamentally as a practice, but Tronto further identifies four sub-elements of care that can be understood simultaneously as stages, virtuous dispositions, or goals. These sub-elements are: (1) attentiveness, a proclivity to become aware of need; (2) responsibility, a willingness to respond and take care of need; (3) competence, the skill of providing good and successful care; and (4) responsiveness, consideration of the position of others as they see it and recognition of the potential for abuse in care (1994, 126-136). Tronto’s definition is praised for how it admits to cultural variation and extends care beyond family and domestic spheres, but it is also criticized for being overly broad, counting nearly every human activity as care.
Other definitions of care provide more precise delineations. Diemut Bubeck narrows the definitional scope of care by emphasizing personal interaction and dependency. She describes care as an emotional state, activity, or both, that is functional, and specifically involves “the meeting of needs of one person by another where face-to-face interaction between care and cared for is a crucial element of overall activity, and where the need is of such a nature that it cannot possibly be met by the person in need herself” (129). Bubeck thus distinguishes care from “service”, by stipulating that “care” involves meeting the needs for others who cannot meet their needs themselves, whereas “service” involves meeting the needs of individuals who are capable of self-care. She also holds that one cannot care for oneself, and that care does not require any emotional attachment. While some care ethicists accept that care need not always have an emotional component, Bubeck’s definitional exclusion of self-care is rejected by other care ethicists who stress additional aspects of care.
For example, both Maurice Hamington and Daniel Engster make room for self-care in their definitions of care, but focus more precisely on special bodily features and end goals of care (Hamington, 2004; Engster, 2007). Hamington focuses on embodiment, stating that: “care denotes an approach to personal and social morality that shifts ethical considerations to context, relationships, and affective knowledge in a manner that can only be fully understood if care’s embodied dimension is recognized. Care is committed to flourishing and growth of individuals, yet acknowledges our interconnectedness and interdependence” (2004, 3). Engster develops a “basic needs” approach to care, defining care as a practice that includes “everything we do to help individuals to meet their vital biological needs, develop or maintain their basic capabilities, and avoid or alleviate unnecessary or unwanted pain and suffering, so that they can survive, develop, and function in society” (2007, 28). Although care is often unpaid, interpersonal, and emotional work, Engster’s definition does not exclude paid work or self-care, nor require the presence of affection or other emotion (32). Although these definitions emphasize care as a practice, not all moral theorists maintain this view.
Alternatively, care is understood as a virtue or motive. James Rachels, Raja Halwani, and Margaret McLaren have argued for categorizing care ethics as a species of virtue ethics, with care as a central virtue (Rachels, 1999; McLaren, 2001; Halwani, 2003). The idea that that care is best understood as virtuous motives or communicative skills is endorsed by Michael Slote who equates care with a kind of motivational attitude of empathy, and by Selma Sevenhuijsen, who defines care as “styles of situated moral reasoning” that involves listening and responding to others on their own terms.” (Slote, 2007; Sevenhuijsen, 1998, 85).
Some ethicists prefer to understand care as a practice more fundamental than a virtue or motive because doing so resists the tendency to romanticize care as a sentiment or dispositional trait, and reveals the breadth of caring activities as globally intertwined with virtually all aspects of life. As feminist ethicists, Kittay and Held like to understand care as a practice and value rather than as a virtue because it risks “losing sight of it as work” (Held, 2006, 35). Held refutes that care is best understood as a disposition such as compassion or benevolence, but defines “care” as “more a characterization of a social relation than the description of an individual disposition.
To call myself truly human I can’t be selfishly insular and solely rational. Nor politically correct… Rather, I am challenged to prove my genuine interest in and interrelation with the Other, for whom I’m willing to step out of my own world and into theirs, in a wholly accepting and non-judgmental way, without counting the cost, and doing so only to the greater glory of the Whole/”All in All.”2a term mentioned by Eileen’s ‘Still, small voice within.’
I know from my failed attempts that manifesting all the above is a tall order because creating the right conditions for it is bl***y painful for my ego. But becoming better at allowing Grace3~the spiritual concept of receiving something from someone and passing it on until the environment around you begins to change drastically:
~some of the attributes that can lead towards living more grace-fully: Surrender. … Sacrifice and forgive…. Cultivate faith and trust. …Serve with compassion. … Be thankful. … Be the blessings that you are. … Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised… ;
~grace causes self-forgetfulness to the point described in the Songs of Solomon 4:9, “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes…” to really get through my barriers, and following the practical examples of Findhorn’s Founders and contemporary counter-cultural “lights,” does empower me to get up again and take small, independent, effective steps on the path towards a heartwarming civilisation!
As ‘communal change’ agents usually manifest slow, out-of-date results, only ‘individual change’ agents offer timeliness and other positive advantages. Of the latter agents there are two sorts: you and everyone else… You have the free will to either wait for consensus to act with others, or to simply start acting independently yourself. Just imagine then, a whole community of individuals start consistently “doing” their own chosen “care thing:” I believe that a radical+effective+magnetic, cutting edge communal change would re-emerge immediately and develop exponentially.
The care-path is much more important than any care-goal, because [a] journeys are the essence of Life in all her glory, [b] journey-people learn to preserve and enhance unique character, [c] given the permanence of change, journey-people are likely to gain innumerable resources along the way which refine and render their own goal(s) far more rewarding in the end, and [d] Others’ needs–the resolution of which is the ‘goal’ of caring–will always continue to evolve.
As care-frameworks are designed with specific outcomes in mind they are per se imperfect: replace a frame and you’re simply trading in one set of design problems for another. It’s better to organically and continuously develop our individual care-ability, just as the snake moults as part of its natural growth process–which also helps to remove harmful parasites (=conceptual fallacies that become apparent as we learn and grow in practical care-knowledge/-experience). So the ‘new’ models smoothly replace the obsolete ones.
Even though this care-culture requires continuous effort–it requires me to always be 100% committed to, radically=fearlessly, putting Others first; in reality; if necessary, before my own needs; 100% guaranteed–please do choose the faster, independent path today! And/or help PET to do so by donating what you can–this is an equally va£id act because of PETs multiplier effect. Whichever you do choose: 👍💓✌️☮️😃💪!