Skip to main content

Living for Today

Image result for live for today

A brief comment, if I may, on bromides like that expressed in the cursive writing here. Are they worthless? Are they deep? A bit of both, perhaps?

Human beings (and other self-aware beings as well) undergo a range of experiences, and the having of certain of these experiences is good. There is no single type of good experience: the best we can do is settle for a short list. My list, which I have discussed here before, runs as follows: it is good that we enjoy social relationships with those near and dear to ourselves; it is good that we enjoy the sublimity of nature; it is good that we enjoy both the creation and the contemplation of works of art.

Everything else that we may consider good is instrumental: that is, in support of the creation and preservation of those good experiences. For example, a prosperous economy is good because it enables the leisure that itself assists in the enjoyment of those intrinsic goods.

Two principles for action present themselves: act so as to enjoy the intrinsic goods yourself. Also, act so as to support their enjoyment later, by yourself and others. This means that rational moralists will understand the appeal of the frequent injunction "live for today," or "live as if this were you last day on earth."  That is, to the extent such injunctions focus us on the intrinsic goods, those here-and-now sorts of enjoyment listed above, they are valuable. BUT....

It probably isn't your last day. It certainly isn't everybody's last day. The instrumental work has to go on. So live for yourself, but not solely. Live for today, but not solely.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…