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valuing idealization as aspirational appeal
april 10, 2010


The “Valuing” post on Velleman was a promissory note about his work, which I’ll make good, up the road. Especially interesting is Velleman’s view that “sensibilities can be more or less intelligible in themselves,” such that a high sensibility could be the basis for preferring one standard over another (be it a “personal standard” irt an “interpersonal standard”; or between standards within one kind). He writes: “Practical reason therefore favors cultivating appreciative responses to things that belong to general kinds,” to which I responded that those kinds would be what we might call high values, such as humanistic values (including “moral” values) and highly-admirable values of character, artistic values, political values, etc.

Yet, one’s well-growing life is primarily oriented (appropriately so) by aspirations and by purposes pertaining to one’s living, in which admirable and humanistic appeals variably figure, maybe prevailingly for some persons, yet for their lives, i.e., relative to what is really living. Primary appeals in experience probably express intrinsic interests, like healthfulness, or keeping clear about what’s sacred amid cultural values (which, to me, are paradigmatically integral to so-called “higher education,” especially appropriate as doing philosophy). And the older you are, the more that aging well gains orienting importance. But what for? One might well subvert the common sense of youth with appeals of (on? to?) ethical life’s capability for a high register: a love of enhancing humanity, a calling to heal, maybe even going for a legacy of contribution to some domain. Live for proving so many kinds of love durable.

So, again (mentioned in “individuation”), spheres of appeal are plural, some containing others, implying others, complementing, contrasting, and competing—and doing so differently for different eras of one’s life.

In any case, the prevailing appeals for a well-growing life are aspirational. The life lacking prevailing aspirational appeal is the life that needs to gain such desire, first by appreciating one’s potential for aspirational appeal as already always belonging to oneself. To develop selfidentical importance as aspirational appeal is to develop motivating value, if the selfidentification is real, i.e., authentic.

Aspirational appeal, prevailing like a centripetal gravity over other appeals in one’s life, can compose prevailing desire for the life, reflecting enactive futurity in expressed capability, thinking of the promise of life propitiously, lifelongingness as longing that feasibly lasts, thanks to appeals of imaginative idealization.

So, to me, the aspirational appeal of ideals prevails over evaluative potential of ideals, like adventurous traveling prevails over destination. One may be a little disappointed that a wonderful story ends, no matter how fittingly. Given actualized ideals, I have a new occasion for imaginative idealization, even a sophisticating of idealization in light of what I’ve learned. Given a fitting end to a story, I gain a chance to eagerly witness (if not make) a new story, maybe a better one.

A fascinating prospect becomes an appealing project. Prospect is virtual project-ivity, and I’m not short on ambition.

Next: idealizing individuation for living fruitfully.

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