[ a fully caused & embodied blog ] [ Good Sense Without God ]
It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Exerpt from Encountering Naturalism

Encountering Naturalism, Tom Clark, p 2-3:
By understanding the causal factors that shape us and our lives -- factors such as genetic endowment, upbringing and social environments -- naturalism draws attention to what works in getting what we want. This increases individual self-efficacy and supports effective social policies in areas such as criminal and social justice, behavioral health and the environment. Further, since we understand we aren't the ultimate originators of ourselves or our behavior, we can't take ultimate credit or blame for who we are and what we do. This reduces unwarranted feelings of moral superiority, pride, shame and guilt, while encouraging self-acceptance. And since we see others as fully caused, for instance substance abusers, criminal offenders, the destitute and homeless, we might become less blaming, less punitive, and more empathetic and understanding. People don't create themselves, so responsibility for their character and behavior isn't ultimately theirs, but is distributed over the many factors that shaped them. Were we given their environmental and genetic lot in life, we would have become who they are and acted as they did: there but for circumstances go I. This challenges head-on the radical individualism of Western culture that imagines we are literally self-made. It also grounds a naturalistic ethics of compassion that guides personal behavior and motivates progressive social policy. This is an unapologetically humanistic naturalism.

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