In Search of a Common Good (Reflections on Andrii Baumeister’s Book “Being and Good”)
AbstractThe recent book “Being and Good” by Andriy Baumeister is a remarkable event for both Ukrainian ontology and Ukrainian moral philosophy. The author attempts to disprove the approaches to moral philosophy by Putnam, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Apel and Habermas, arguing that all of them, for different reasons, cannot substantiate their claims to normativity. At the same time, he sees his own efforts as codirectional with MacIntyre and Taylor, in what Andriy Baumeister calls the “ontologization of Good”. In my review I argue that Baumeister’s criticism largely misses its point, because his conviction that there is an objective, ontologically rooted human good (indeed, for Baumeister ontology itself is rooted in Good) also has its epistemological correlate: there is only one true picture of the world, which is also the only rational one, so that all deviating world pictures should have some purely rational flaws compared with more adequate one. Consequently, Baumeister tries to show that positions, e.g., of Heidegger and Wittgenstein are based on a simple logical contradiction, whereas in fact this is not so; on the other hand, Baumeister himself has no better substantiation for his own claims to normativity (in both epistemology and ontology) than the authors he criticizes. I also argue that a healthy alternative to all the above positions could be found in Aristotle’s pragmatism (much deeper than could be expected) and Buber’s philosophy of dialogue.
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