Best Of The Web
“‘I am glad,’ wrote the acclaimed American philosopher Susan Wolf, ‘that neither I nor those about whom I care most’ are ‘moral saints’. This declaration is one of the opening remarks of a landmark essay in which Wolf imagines what it would be like to be morally perfect. If you engage with Wolf’s thought experiment, and the conclusions she draws from it, then you will find that it offers liberation from the trap of moral perfection.
Wolf’s essay ‘Moral Saints’ (1982) imagines two different models of the moral saint, which she labels the Loving Saint and the Rational Saint. The Loving Saint, as described by Wolf, does whatever is morally best in a joyful spirit: such a life is not fun-free, but it is unerringly and unwaveringly focused on morality. We are to think of the Loving Saint as the kind of person who cheerfully sells all of her or his possessions in order to donate the proceeds to famine relief. The Rational Saint is equally devoted to moral causes, but is motivated not by a constantly loving spirit, rather by a sense of duty.
The Loving Saint might be more fun to be around than the Rational Saint, or more maddening, depending on your own personal temperament. Would the constant happiness of the Loving Saint make being with her easier, or would it drive you around the bend? There is an instruction associated with Buddhism – in fact, coined by the American scholar Joseph Campbell – that asks you to ‘participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world’, and the Loving Saint does this to the maximum: but perhaps you would find such joy sustained in the face of the world’s worst horrors inane or inappropriate. On the other hand, the Rational Saint, with his relentless commitment to duty, might be very grating company, too.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"President Trump’s Iran policy over the weekend was both erratic and masterful. Doves and isolationists, panicked by what they see as the administration’s inexorable drift toward war, rejoiced when Mr. Trump announced that a military strike had..."
"This is the photo that encapsulates the cruelty of the Trump era: a father and daughter lying dead on the banks of the Rio Grande river, her tiny arm draped around his neck, drowned after an attempt to cross onto American soil and seek asylum..."
"Several months ago, a Palestine Liberation Organization body published an official document on the conflict. In its 37 pages, the organization put forth its views, with some readers seeing this as a clear endorsement of the two-state solution..."
"The first season of Big Little Lies was a clever trap. The show took what would have otherwise been an easily satirized narrative about affluent women and complicated it with their trauma; The Week's Lili Loofbourow succinctly called it "a kind..."
"There’s a story we like to tell about American capitalism. Ours is a country that prizes merit, rewards risk and stands apart in its commitment to the collective success of open markets and the free flow of capital. We are a nation of strivers..."
""IN THESE DAYS of anti-tech ire, it’s a popular cocktail hour topic: How much is Facebook making off my data? Last year, I spent a month trying to find out, hawking my personal data on blockchain-based marketplaces. I came away with $0.003. On..."
""At the end of May, TIAA, the financial services and investing giant, rolled out new gender-identity awareness guidelines for its client-facing consultants. The guidance included: “Never assume someone’s gender identity” and “Be aware that a..."
"An old saying goes that people become more conservative as they age. George Will’s new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” shows that the opposite can be true. This book is not so much a brief for conservatism as it is a learned and lengthy..."
"Imagine if the dishes stopped getting done. Imagine if no one did the laundry, and it piled up, stained and mildewing in hampers and in piles on the floor. Imagine if no one fed the baby, or changed her, and imagine if no one made dinner..."
"In Japanese culture, kintsugi is the labor-intensive method of repairing broken pottery by reattaching pieces using a lacquer mixed with gold. The reconstructed item, glistening with golden “seams,” is in many ways more beautiful than it was..."
"The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1992. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases since January. Scientific research overwhelmingly support..."
"Among those participating was Jason Greenblatt, Washington’s Mideast mediator and one of the architects of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop taking place here. Aryeh Lightsone, a top aid to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, gave a brief..."