Wednesday, September 02, 2009

one flowers and leaves: love as letting-be

Caring is integral to ethical life and an essential aspect of love,
which of course includes attachment and desire—keeping near, holding dear. But I think the most important feature of love is letting be
(in an existential, humanistic sense), which includes, if called for, letting go.

It’s not primarily a matter of regarding the other as an End (Kant), because the indiscernible telos of a life has no fate (such regard has
no individualizing content). One appropriately cares for the growing
(a notion way beyond Kant, relative to our times' knowledge),
the intelligent growth, I would offer, yielding to however it goes
for her or him in their ownmost way, their flourishing (which may be
storied). So it is with children, students, friends, lovers, partners,
and oneself.

Love is conceptually integral to the work of Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt and colleagues, some of whose work I’ll discuss later. Care is integral to virtue ethics, which is greatly important to my way of thinking (Michael Slote especially, but also Philippa Foot).

Few people, it seems to me, find a good balance between keeping well and letting be, relative to attachment, desire, intimacy, kindredness—living-with well, flourishing.

I have much to say about capability, developmental excellence, and individuation (especially possible complexities of self-identity and
a post-conventional ethic of life) relative to one’s imagined, projected lifespan. I distinguish character’s admirability of enacted values from virtue’s exemplarity; and ethicality of one’s flourishing from its supple-mentary moral sense rooted in one’s humanity. I distinguish fitness (vital to flourishing) from fittingness (vital to balancing self-formative and moral considerations); consequential acuity distinguished from consequentialism.

Altogether, I’ll advocate an appropriative ethic of flourishing.