Saturday, July 7, 2018

378. The good life: is it enough?

In this blog I have argued for acceptance, even enjoyment, of imperfection, while keeping it moving, in development of the self, without God or a hereafter, other than what one leaves behind after ones death. I argued for a good life in contributing to that hereafter, accepting that it is enough and can be a joy if in the process one makes the best possible use of one’s talents. Of course, this depends on conditions. For people in disasters of war there may be no access to a good life.

Is that really enough?

Dostoyevsky proposed that without God humans fall into a moral abyss. 

It is claimed that without a God people grasp at some superstition to replace it. Some other absolute, universal and unchanging, Žižek’s object-a, perhaps, dressed up and veiled in ideology.

In neo-liberal ideology, the market is the substitute missionary superstition, held to apply always and everywhere.

Or a scientist’s Platonic ideal of objective truth, the dream of reason.

So, is there some hidden superstition in my view of ‘imperfection on the move’. Or is it not really adequate for satisfying the human craving for significance?

As discussed in his blog, my answer to Dostoyevsky is as follows: I propose debatable ethics, an Aristotelian virtue ethics, with commitment to phronesis, practical wisdom. With the virtues of being reasonable, courage, moderation, and justice, mastering the art of trust.

My answer to Plato is truth as warranted assertibility: the exercise of logic, search and respect for facts, and practical workability.

My answer to liberalism is that yes, we need markets, but they are imperfect and have moral limits, require restraint by regulation, and a test against virtues.

One may hope that after death the movement of imperfection continues, in new ways, conducted by new generations. One needs hope not in a passive sense of waiting to see, but in an active sense of having a goal, seeing ways to achieve them, and confidence in one’s ability to do so. This needs courage, to face the uncertainties involved.

So, without a God, I do maintain the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love in the form of what Gabriel Marcel called ‘brotherhood’, and love in the form of philia.

In ‘being in the world’, the individual forms itself in interaction with that world. For imperfection to be on the move, one should grasp the opportunity of opposition by others, to escape from one’s prejudices. That requires empathy, the ability to understand the position of others and what moves them.

It requires openness to surprise, the willingness and ability, the resilience, to absorb disappointments.

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