Normativity and thoughtfulness: A footnote to socrates


Abstract
This paper argues that we ought to conceive of normativity as a matter of the exercise of fallible abilities that make a fragile pact with the future. To conceive normativity in this fashion we also need to change our image and practice of thinking, i.e., we need to endorse thoughtfulness, which consists in the ability and willingness to widen the scope (or, sometimes, change) that which we find insightful. This approach to normativity, and this image and practice of thinking, is at odds with the dominant contemporary approach to normativity, which, it is argued here, is characterised by an attempt to play god, i.e., to create and play in artificial, fantasy worlds where we can know and master all there is to know, such that we can read off, or determine in advance, the appropriateness or correctness of future actions (or events, beliefs, etc). As long as we continue to play gods in our approach to normativity, we will continue to hide away from our limitations, including, most importantly, our fallibility, animality and mortality. When we hide away from our limitations in this way we radically underestimate the demands of moral and political life.
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