45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2004
I am somewhat amused by some of the other reviews here. Having gotten some scathing reviews of my own work, it is (sadly) refreshing to see that people will find horrible things to say even about books that are truly brilliant. You truly can't please everyone.
Aesthetically, Nodding's book is a marvel. Unlike what some of the trite student reviewers here would have one believe, Nodding's book is fluidly, lucidly, and tenderly written. Rather than merely spewing psychological rhetoric, Noddings introduces and explains her subject carefully, eloquently, and beatufiully. This book makes it clear that Noddings is not only an educator and thinker but a true writer as well.
Her explanation and development of her arguments for an ethic of care is, in my opinion, unparalleled. I was not reading her book for it's educational implications, and did not read those chapters. I was reading in research of a groundwork for spiritual ethics, and though Noddings is adamant that her ethic is not grounded in agapism (an argument she supports admirably) there is a certain spirituality that underlies her work, though this is not based in any kind of transcendent Goodness, but rather the immanent bonds that hold people and their environment together.
I had been a student and advocate of traditional rights based ethics for years, but reading this book (in conjunction with Carol Gilligan's work) has made a convert of me. Although Noddings stresses the fact that an ethic of care must be situational and each case considered in its context, her ethic also lends itself extremely well as a model for faith (in the sense James Fowler uses the word) and a model for being in the world.
This was truly a paradigm shifting read for me, which is why I give it the 5 stars. It's not every day you read a book that allows you to adopt a new way of looking at the world and of being in the world. I can't say enough good things about this book. I wish everyone interested in relationships and community would read this work.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2002
I haven't actually read the whole book, so I can't speak to the educational implications.
However, I have written two term papers on the "Ethic of Care" or "Feminine Ethic" she proposes in the book (which has required me reading that section at least 20 times). I can say that she has written an ethic that is horribly misunderstood by most readers. If you actually take the time to philosophically analyze her theory, you will find it incredibly more complicated than a cursory read shows. The implications of her theory are astounding, and it should not be underappreciated.
There are a few reviews here which make untenable claims about her introducing nothing new to the issue of morality, a completely ludicrous claim. Her Ethic of Care is not simple by any definition, and her book is part of a revolution that centers moral thought on concrete caring relationships instead of abstract, universal concepts such as justice and truth.
Her claim that men and women think about morality differently is not unjustifiable: men ruled philosophical and ethical thought for 2500 years and no ethic of care resulted; women have been on the philosophy scene for about 30 years and a whole revolution in moral thought has taken place, mostly in this direction. If that's not evidence, what is?
Her theory has intrigued me enough to want to buy this book and read beyond the philosophical chapters to those that concentrate more on educational praxis. I would like to teach one day, albeit at a collegiate level, and I think she would offer a very interesting perspective on education and teaching.
P.S. Anyone that teaches at Columbia and Stanford does not write "trash" ipso facto, as some people writing negative reviews have stated. If that's true, the people writing those reviews would be teaching there as well; let's hope such pretentious people with no background to make such claims never teach beyond a high school level unless they wise up and realize they're not the omniscient centers of the earth.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 1999
I also read this book in a class on ethics and education at Rutgers -- not only did I love the book, the professor and the class were also fascinating. While I will admit that Noddings' terminology takes a little getting used to, I found her ideas to be worthwhile and interesting. Noddings sees the teacher as the "one-caring" and the student as the "cared-for". The teacher's role calls for her to see students as the best that they can be and to accept students for what they are while always working to help them develop the student's "best self". What a phenomenal idea! I am a teacher in a large urban school and often, the kids I teach do not have anyone who believes in their "best selves" -- no one has taught them how to dream and what steps to take to realize that vision. Without dreams and plans, kids can not grow. Many of the kids in my school do not feel there is much out there for them. One of the fundamental ways to reach out to these kids is by CARING. I applaud Noddings for pursuing the road less travelled.
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 1999
Caring is a challenging book to read, because Noddings bases her ethical philosophy on an alternative approach to ethics than we are used to seeing. She argues that the relation between a one-caring and a cared-for should be the focus of how we think about right and wrong. As a fairly conservative and religious person, I find that I am uncomfortable at times with how the book is written. However, I think that has more to do with the examples that Noddings uses rather than the theory itself. Despite her wishing to distance herself from a God, I find her ethical theory to be evocative of the Gospels. If readers accept Noddings on her own terms, I think they will find her theory very different and refreshing. I've read the book again now after a few years and even though it can be difficult to read, I think it's very helpful for educators.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
The subject of ethics and morality has always baffled me .There are layers and layers of the subject .I had decided not to write on this subject till I thought I had some fair degree of understanding .But when I read this deeply original book called "Caring . . A feminine approach to ethics and moral education " by Nel Noddings ,I decided to review my decision .It is a challenging and original book to read .Its first edition was published in 1984 and second in 2003.The book has two parts :Philosophy of ethics and Education and teaching.Since I was motivated to read this book mainly for its exposition of ethics , I will not dwell on the parts that deal with education.That is not to under estimate the importance of its contribution in the field of education where caring can play a crucial part.
Nel Noddings is Lee Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita , Stanford University.She has developed philosophical argument for an ethics based on natural caring.The book is a part of a revolution that centers moral thought on concrete caring relationships , instead of abstract , universal concepts and principles like truth and justice.In the book,I found a new paradigm that I could understand in a concrete way , rather than in terms of abstract principles .It allows us to adopt a new way of looking at the world and at being in the world.It proposes and advocates ethics of caring , supremacy of caring relationships over principles, totally different from the ethics of principles."Caring is the foundation of and not a mere manifestation of morality." It rejects ethics of principles as ambiguous and unstable.Whenever there is a principle , there is implied its exception and too often, principles function to separate us from each other.We may become dangerously self righteous when we perceive ourselves as holding a precious principle not held by the other.Ethics of caring supports while the ethics of principles goes against unity and oneness.
Ethics has so far been guided by Logos , the masculine spirit whereas the more natural and perhaps stronger approach would be through Eros , the feminine spirit".Men and women think about caring differently.The father might sacrifice his own child in fulfilling a principle .The mother might sacrifice any principle to preserve her child .The book puts forth ethics from feminine perspective.It also seems to advocate a view that women are intuitively non- competitive and have less interest in power and more in being caring , supporting and cooperating and that , possibly a woman should remain in touch with her deep , feminine psychological structure and bring its great strength into public world of work . What is caring?It is not an easy question to answer.There are two parties of the relation ."one -caring" and "cared-for".Let us consider four types of situations and ask questions to understand what it means to be caring.
1. I think of a person often and worry about her.I am in a burdened mental state.Does it mean I care about her?(The person could be mother or some relation or friend).Is externally observable action necessary for caring?
2.I do not see her more often because I have so much to do , long working hours , kids and a spouse who need my companionship.I am in a conflict of caring.But does it mean I care for her?When we are overwhelmed by the responsibilities and duties of the task of caring, we run the risk of caring.
3. I pay the bills to meet her expenditure but there are others who can provide company.Does it mean that I care for her?We do not say that a person cares if he acts routinely according to some fixed rule , like paying the bills.
4.Then ,there is a possibility of "institutional caring", known as the third person view of caring .The first person view is of the personal one-caring .The second person view is of caring as per the expectation of the cared-for.Is it caring when we send a person to an old age home or a similar institution?
None of of these indicates that I care .Indeed , caring is very complex, intricate and subjective.Caring is a thought , feeling , emotion , attitude and an observable action , all rolled in one.
I care when the other's reality becomes a real possibility for me.I act to actualize her dream , not to project my own reality onto her.I do not try to motivate , reward or manipulate her to my view point because I have data or logic to support me. I begin to see the reality from her eyes.I will not be disappointed in her or in myself if she does not come up to my reality."Apprehending the other's reality , feeling what she feels as nearly as possible , is the essential part of caring from the point of view of the one -caring.For if I take on other's reality as possibility and begin to feel its reality,I feel also that I must act accordingly.;that is , I am impelled to act as though in my own behalf, but in behalf of the other.This feeling that I must act , may or may not be sustained.I must make a commitment to act.The commitment to act in behalf of the cared for, a continued interest in his reality throughout the appropriate time span , and the continual renewal of commitment over this span of time are the essential elements of caring from the inner view."
When I care , there is a motivational shift.My motivational energy flows towards the cared for.I allow my motive energy to be shared.I put it at the service of the other.In extreme form , I live for others( like a mother for children)."To care for another person ,in the most significant sense, is to help him grow and actualize himself" writes Milton Mayeroff in book "On caring" (New york , Harper Row. page1).
For the "cared-for" attitude of "one-caring" is important.Whether the act is performed generously or grudgingly , is important.One can learn to care and to be cared for.As I care for others and am cared for by them,I become able to care for myself.Cared-for gives the gift of responsiveness and shares experiences with the one-caring.There is a risk of feeling guilty when I care.The risk of guilt is present in all caring. The author rejects the notion of universal caring-that is -caring for every one.It is impossible to actualize.It leads to abstraction and mere talk of caring.In order to care adequately for anyone,we must give up romantic notions of caring for every one.Masculine ethic of universal love is illusion .Some , in terrible disillusion, kill to establish the very principles which should have entreated them not to kill.Thus are lost both persons and principles.
Caring need not be accompanied by love.(agapism or obligatory love.)" But an act of ethic locates morality in the pre-act consciousness of the one-caring.Yet it is not a form of agapism.There is no command to love.
The book tries to suggest how to develop communities that will support and not destroy caring relations.We need to acquire skills and competence in care taking.Three great means of the ethical ideal and to maintain and enhance caring are;
Dialogue is talking ,listening ,to understand, to meet the other and to care .
Practice is the celebration of everyday life.It contributes to the maintenance of the ethical ideal.Maintaining as ones caring through a general strengthening of self image.If I find something delightful , I share it with cared-for.These could be stories,puzzles , poems,songs or films.It is also talking about anxiety.Confirmation takes place when we attribute the best possible motive to the cared- for, consonant with reality.It needs sensitivity and open communication.
As a philosophical question , we can ask what is the aim of life .Is it to find happiness?Or is it to find perfection in the sense of preparation for another life?The author says neither of the above is the aim of life .She says that the aim of life is to care and to be cared for."We have seen in this century sufficient horror induced in the name of obedience.we need not have respect or obedience for rules or law but for contribution to the maintenance of caring .Obedience to law is simply not a reliable guide to moral behaviour.There is no escape from the requirement of caring for one who would be moral."
I must confess that this book has deeply changed my concept of ethics and living .I am aware that there are hundreds of questions still to be answered when we accept and adopt the ethics of caring ,still I am of the view that this perspective is a great step forward in our understanding of morality . It has the seeds of making our world much better and humane than the ethics of principles and obedience can ever achieve .In this sense , this book succeeds in causing a revolutionary shift in our thoughts , behaviour and life .I recommend that every thinking person must read this book .
on March 3, 2014
I wish I had kept track of the frequency with which this book has been cited in all my readings. This is a book that I've returned to again and again. Today as I sit preparing a bibliography on hospitality, I see the connections between hospitality and care ethics and have once again returned to Noddings to refresh my understanding of her ideas. Noddings noted receptivity, relatedness, and responsiveness, as [representing] "an alternative to present views, one that begins with the moral attitude or longing for goodness and not with moral reasoning" (p. 2). For added perspective, read Carol Gilligan's (1993) book on women's moral development.
The book is organized into 8 sections:
1) Why Care About Caring - defines/describes caring
2) The one-caring - care taker. In hospitality language, the host.
3) The cared for - recipient of care. In hospitality language, the stranger or guest.
4) An Ethic of Caring - obligation, right/wrong
5) Construction of the Ideal - receptivity, dialogue, practice
6) Enhancing the Ideal - Joy
7) Caring for animals, plants, things, and ideas
8) Moral Education
On page 29, Noddings mentioned that "In Christian ethics, there will be major and irreconcilable differences" (p. 29). I wanted to hear more of her thoughts here. Specifically she maintained that caring was proximally local. This is in contrast to a Christian understanding of God as creator concerned for all creation (e.g., Revelations 5:9; Matthew 28:19 for examples). In the preface to the 2nd edition, Noddings distinguished between caring for and caring about where "caring about is characterized by some distance" (p. xv). This isn't a critique per se, just my trying to understand Noddings assertion of irreconcilable differences.
Some other reading: [...]
Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.