Freud and Marx unveil ed the naivete of assuming that conscious choices can be taken at face value
. The Social Gospel movement and then Liberation Theology have added the Christian component so that now no self-respecting theologian, and few Christian practitioners, can ignore the fact that "natural" boundaries and God-given structures are often laden with human vested interests.
This theoretical bent toward an "economic" and "democratic" view of ethics as equal distribution of goods is mirrored by a popular suspicion and cynicism about anything that seems to derive value from heroic excellence...As a result of the influence of the social sciences, altruistic acts are no longer likely to be taken at face value
, and may be thought to be irrational in one way or another once deeper motives are explored...To many of us, then, courage as a virtue may seem but a tattered remnant of outdated ideals of chivalry - a macho-military quality that has outgrown its usefulness in civilized society.
The problem is one of authorial intention: Is the more prominent message to be taken at face value, or is it just a cover for smuggling dangerous ideas into the heads of unsympathetic readers.
At the beginning of the essay, we are warned that what Equiano says is generally not to be taken at face value, and apparent discourses are devices used to prevent the alienation of the audience: