Critical and Philosophical Reflections
Edited by Leah Tomkins
Chapter 9: A metamorphosis for leaders: caring in good faith
This chapter presents a reading of Kafka’s Metamorphosis to underscore the dangers of the power asymmetries of care. Drawing on Hazel Barnes’ existentialism, it considers the problem of caring for one’s family in bad faith, i.e., keeping them unhealthily dependent and denied the space to work things out for themselves. Kafka’s example of caring in bad faith is a cautionary tale for leaders who have good intentions, but end up paving the path to Hell. Barnes opens up the possibility for a counterpart to this through relations of good faith. Yet, caring in good faith is not prescriptive, since the future and others’ radical subjectivity cannot be known. Leadership in good faith accepts and celebrates this ambiguity and absurdity. It involves caring deliberately, communicating and making the best choice in the moment without any guarantee that it will be the right choice.
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