Thursday, February 11, 2010

an unsynoptably-complex feeling for what happens

revised Friday, 2/12

Each day has too many interesting advents in the news for me to put time into noting that here. So, the archiving process in the morning is comforting: All those things are gradually, aggregatedly shaping the uncounted topics (limited in number, though) that are “self-assembling,” in that sense.

I’m enthusiastic about Michael Slote’s Moral Sentimentalism, 2010, for many reasons, but especially as excursion into a sense of “natural virtue” that would (I hope) accord significantly with Philipa Foot’s sense of “natural goodness” (which I’ve fleshed out, offline).

I sent him a note expressing my enthusiasm. He says in the “Preface” of his book that he’s too much a feminist (with his empathy-based ethic of care) to be basically Humean. I told him about the Dadlez book (discussed here Monday), which could be read as a claim that Hume is feminist; and he wrote back a thanks for that. (Actually, the claim in favor of Hume would be merely that a feminist could be Humean. This matters marginally for re-thinking the history of English ethical thought for the sake of an empathy-based ethics of care which reconceptualizes ”moral” sense, for my part relative to a biocognitive turn in the human sciences. Coffee with Dadlez would just exemplify a happenstantiality of The Conversation of Humanity.)

You might wonder why care whether or not value (goodness, virtue) can be naturally understood or not. It’s difficult to make a case briefly without seeming ethnocentric, but the issue is partly about a sense of political ethics that is not ethnocentric. I’m developing a comprehensive evolutionary ethics, which I can’t synop here, but I’ll improvise an important feature:

Are human rights “Western” (EuroAmerican) values, such that state stability can justifiably trump non-violent freedom of expression? Of course not. Another example of basic human rights: Girls in developing countries have a right to education. No religious justification of illiteracy is acceptable. The political good of human rights is obvious to us, but what’s the real basis of that intuition? What’s a very good way to fit that basis with other admirable features of a well-growing life and with theorization of well-growing lives across human sciences and humanities?

Though evolving a balance of interests and importances in, say, China (system stability vs. creative rights) or Africa (familiar tradition vs. unsettling rights), can’t (and won’t) be a simple importation of the EuroAmerican balance that has evolved for us, there is a constructible bridge from an arguably-very-good view of ethical theory to actually enowning values (through education and culture) that deserve universal recognition.

Bridgework is immensely important to me, but I’ve barely expressed that. Coming months will involve uphill aspects of bridgework, but downhill aspects won’t be ignored. However, it’ll be some time before I extendedly focus on current events through a broad sense of topicality and humanistic union.

For the near-term, I want to do conceptual work, which will go in some maybe-seemingly-odd directions. But I know where I am, and I know what really and generally matters.

One can’t fairly pursue issues of inquiry and application, architecture and engineering, simultaneously. I’m on a long-term trek that may seem unduly academic (or literary or creative or individualistic). But eventually, it all will come together, appealingly (I hope), appropriately (I would argue), and, I hope, done so very well.

In the meantime, I—like all of us—have one life to live. My scope of interest is also purely philosophical, and I must stand for the worth of time I give to that. I expect to seem at times to have lost touch with common ground. But I live with our common ground day after day after day. I’m devoted to a love of enhancing our humanity, but firstly as venturing to understand our humanity as comprehensively as I can.

My oddness is quite evident: coining notions like “discursive homemaking” (smirk), wanting to marry philosophical and literary thrills, play in trees, theorize happiness.

But I know where I’m going. The gravitation is clear—even as, I hope, daily life stays fun enough—in the long run proffering a high humanity for all, while seeking in the meantime to live as well as I can, living ethically, but with plenty of Attitude.