The bright white world has quickly faded back to wet and gray. That’s the way of things, around these parts.
And we’re back in class, as the weekend’s eight inches of wintry blast – a blizzard, by local standards – has suddenly thawed into a big sloppy muddy slushy mess, and reminded us that change is constant.
In CoPhi today, peripatetics old and new; and, how This I Believe models one of the most important skills for the collaborative approach we follow in my classes: willingness to listen to disparate public professions of personal conviction, with sympathy and a critical ear, but without meanness and rancor. It’s a skill sadly missing from most public and political dialogue.
In Atheism & Philosophy, we look (with Julian Baggini) at godless ethics and meaning. The main takeaway: being good is a challenge for us all, with or without a heavenly host and role-model; and so is the quest for significance. You can’t simply assign goodness or meaning to an external law-and-purpose-Giver and be done with it, we must each appropriate and perpetually re-appropriate the point and integrity of our lives. That goes for gods and humans alike, who must (Euthyphro should have learned from Socrates) all acknowledge the reasonableness of independent standards.
William James: “The solid meaning of life is always the same eternal thing,— the marriage, namely, of some unhabitual ideal, however special, with some fidelity, courage, and endurance; with some man’s or woman ‘s pains.—And, whatever or wherever life may be, there will always be the chance for that marriage to take place.”
And finally today in Bioethics, we note the uses and limitations of theory. Is there, for instance, a theoretical solution to the question of how long a good and meaningful life must be? Baggini votes for longer lives than we’ve yet averaged, but not eternally more. I agree. More life, please. As Younger Daughter used to say, “I like too much!”
But enough will eventually be enough… and there will be new life in the Spring.
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