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The rescued self. Value experience and the moral conflict. A case study

Roberta De Monticelli


This paper addresses the topic of the emotional conflict by presenting a fictional case study, exemplifying the overwhelming force of social pressure on individual consciousness. This is a phenomenon we are well familiar with in the wake of the era of totalitarian states in 20th century Europe, although it seems also to be a structural feature of social life not just limited to totalitarian contexts, as Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s experiments show. The moral conflict endured by the hero of our narrative displays a rich phenomenology of value experience, revealing an amazing yet essential link between moral courage and intellectual insight. Drawing on some basic tenets of a phenomenological theory of emotional feeling, this paper argues for three distinctively anti-Kantian claims concerning the relations i) between autonomy and moral knowledge, ii) between moral knowledge and social conformism; iii) between morality and individual personality.


moral conflict; value experience; social conformism; personhood; phenomenology.

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