Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (1):91-118 (1998)

I would like to defend a conception of life that many of us in philosophy practice but few of us preach, and with it a set of virtues that have often been ignored in ethics. In short, I would like to defend what philosopher Sam Keen, among many others, has called the passionate life. It is neither exotic nor unfamiliar. It is a life defined by emotions, by impassioned engagement and belief, by one or more quests, grand projects, embracing affections. It is also sometimes characterized in terms of frenzy, vaulting ambition, essentially insatiable goals, impossible affections. I want to contrast this conception of life with ordinary morality and “being a good person,” although for obvious reasons I do not want to say that one must give up the latter in pursuing the former. This is a mistake that Nietzsche often suggests with his “immor-alist” posturing and warrior metaphors, but I am convinced—on a solid textual basis—that he intended no such result. Nor do I want to dogmatically assert any superiority of a passionate, engaged life over a life that is more calm and routine. On the other hand, I do want to raise the question whether mere proper living, obedience to the law, utilitarian “rational choice” calculations, respect for others' rights and for contracts, and a bit of self-righteousness is all there is to a good life, even if one “fills in” the nonmoral spaces with permissible pleasures and accomplishments. Even a greatly enriched version of Kant, in other words, such as that recently defended by Barbara Herman, unfairly denigrates a kind of life that many of us deem desirable.
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052500003083
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Being and Nothingness.Frederick A. Olafson - 1958 - Philosophical Review 67 (2):276-280.
The Practice of Moral Judgment.Paul Guyer - 1993 - Ethics 106 (2):404-423.
Explaining Emotions.Amelie Oksenberg Rorty - 1978 - Journal of Philosophy 75 (March):139-161.
Nietzsche: Life as Literature.Richard Schacht - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (2):266.
Plain Sex.Alan Goldman - 1977 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (3):267-287.

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