Re: RARA-AVIS: Sam Spade's morals

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 05 Sep 2005

At 03:23 PM 04/09/2005 -0700, you wrote:

>But notions of knightly honor are not what makes a man
>moral. Making hard choices is. Doing what you
>believe to be right, no matter how much you want to do
>what you believe to be wrong, is. And, by that
>standard, Spade is a moral man.

I think Jim sums this up nicely, but I'd like to add two observations regarding morality. First was that this conversation began by asking about a philosophy of noir. Philosophy and morality are not the same things. A working philosophy may be entirely immoral, or amoral.

Second is the question about love and morality. The word "love" covers a lot of territory, but in the context of Spade and romantic or sexual attraction, love is more biological. Seems to have something to do with surging hormones and being in the right place at the right time. Of course, other notions of love may extend from that, and there are moral questions about loyalties to loved ones, but I think Jim's right when he says Spade's moral fibre was illustrated by his resistance to a biological urge. Not that Spade made the right choice, necessarily, but by his terms, a moral one.

Best, Kerry

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