Critical Response to “The Moral Thinking of Macbeth”
In his essay, “The Moral Thinking of Macbeth,” J. Gregory Keller attempts to address Hannah Arendt’s claim in her article, “Thinking and Moral Considerations,” that evil may arise in society directly from thoughtlessness. He attempts to use the murder of Duncan in Macbeth as an event to clarify her argument that thoughtlessness leads to evil and that thinking about the ethical ramifications of one’s thinking can actually turn people toward right versus wrong. I was most intrigued by the idea presented in the essay about ethical thinking and the influences that ambition can have on decisions made by people in everyday life. As Keller questions in the essay, “Does thinking make an ethical difference or does it fall short, at least in the case of Macbeth, of motivating to the good, even when, as Arendt would say, the chips are down?” I think what he is saying is that all actions have thinking involved, but that in many cases, that thinking falls short, even when faced with the moral and ethical observations present in every decision to act. In many cases, this thinking leads to evil actions leaving one to wonder whether the person was actually thinking or just simply ignoring the obvious signs of right versus wrong. Further, I think he is saying that when evil actions are done, that there must have been something that tipped the scale away from good to evil. In the case of Macbeth, it appears that ambition was at least one variable that allowed him to ignore all of his ethical considerations he had reached for not murdering Duncan. There is much to be gained from analyzing Macbeth as it relates to the concept of thinking ridding us of evil and outside forces that corrupt our thinking, which clearly did not happen in Macbeth. The notion of ambition and ethical thinking was advanced very early in Macbeth when he received a prediction from the witches that he would be King, a notion that was ruthlessly...
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