"What is going on?," per Niebuhr, is the first question of ethics. Now what is interesting is that he did not say it is the first question of,
- theory of interpretation
How can knowing what is going on be an ethical question when we have so many questions about theory of meaning? We don't even know whether anything at all exists. We don't know how words latch onto the world. So how can we get to the question of what is going on? Maybe that is Niebuhr's point, that we have to cut past our jouissance and deal with the reality of our own malfeasance. We don't know what is going on because, in part, we prefer not to. It would get us on the wrong list.