Immediate experience is never about abstractions, but about details. Details are what you get without any effort: the irony or the cockiness or the green eyes or the sentimentality that are in your face, so to speak, when you meet. Who you love and long for and cherish will be swayed by details you are free to embellish or ignore. The same is true, with some caution, of whom you avoid or neglect. But when it comes to matters of justice and decency, all the particulars that make individuals who they are, and undergird your reactions to them, ought to be put aside. To do so requires an intellectual operation both complex and disturbing, for it is likely to disregard what makes you care most (or least) about the people you know. This perspective is by no means all there is to being human, but it’s the perspective that is moral. When making moral choices whe should perform an abstraction: from the rich self embodied in the world to the boundary conditions that sets its limits. – Susan Neiman, Moral clarity.

Over de wijnrode zee, het krijsen van het enige overlevende biggetje, de opplakneus van Virginia Woolf schrijft Susan Neiman niet, ze schrijft over geluk, rede, ontzag, hoop, rechtvaardigheid, dankbaarheid, de bereidheid om te delen, met iedereen, in alle gevallen, in alle situaties, vriend en vijand. Er zijn resusaapjes die zichzelf liever doodhongeren dan andere aapjes pijnvolle schokken toe te dienen, chimpansees die chimpansees knuffelen als ze in elkaar geslagen zijn, makaken die onderscheid maken tussen babymakaakjes met neurologische afwijkingen, en zonder, de eerste groep mag gedrag vertonen dat ze in de tweede bestraffen. Er zijn vrouwelijke bonobo’s die in bomen klimmen en gewonde vogels helpen om weer te vliegen. The knowledge that some people have made more out of their lives than you have can be unwelcome. Ik moet nu feitelijk in actie komen.