Nietzsche, Musil, Atay
Chapter V: Musil on Ethics
← 132 | 133 →Chapter V: Musil on Ethics
I said in the last chapter that Musil had declared himself more interested in ethics than in psychology (IV.ii). This may sound like a surprising statement in view of Musil’s oft-noted psychological grasp. However, I will show that it is just this that makes Musil an ethical thinker – or writer – of the first rank. In the first section of this chapter (V.ii) I discuss the case of Moosbrugger the sex murderer, whose trial revolves around the question of accountability and raises issues about the constitution of the self, sanity and insanity, free will, and personal responsibility versus social determination. The main question in Moosbrugger’s case is whether a compulsive serial killer should be held accountable for his crimes. Then, (V.iii) I investigate the relationship between ethics and essayism, both as a writing style and as a way of living. After giving a brief account of Ulrich’s relationship with other women (V.iv), I focus on the relationship between Ulrich and his forgotten sister Agathe that is the heart of part three of the novel (V.v). The account of their relationship is an attempt to think about morality and the world via a treatment of love, and about how to undergo a different kind of participation in the world, beyond any cultural and ideological grounds.
The case of the murderer Moosbrugger who brutally kills a prostitute in a park in Vienna is of interest to both rationalists – criminologists, psychiatrists, lawyers – and moralists, and Musil describes the faltering efforts of both...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.