With an ‘L’ on his Forehead…

There are more values available for response in human life than anyone can possibly be responsible to.

I think of this as the Not World Enough and Time Problem:  we are all missing out on things that are objectively such as not to be missed.  That is the human predicament.

I am strongly tempted to think that a lure to relativism, and to psychologizing the values of others, is our desire to deny the Problem:  we are never missing out; we just made different decisions, believed or desired different things, than so-and-so did.  We aren’t missing out and neither is he, neither is she.  But we know–and we do know–that in many cases we are missing out and that we will have to miss out.  It may not be our fault, but it is always our loss.

2 responses

  1. Very brief, but very profound. It touches upon what I’ve always thought is an enduring theme in Kierkegaard – part of what he’s trying to address when he suggests that the problems we face concerning things like commitment and faith cannot be solved through reflection or calculation alone.

    Perhaps I could put the idea like this. The person who wishes to address such problems through reflection or calculation alone is just as much in denial of the Not World Enough and Time Problem (NP) – but so to speak, from the other side. That is, she doesn’t, as does the relativist, deny that those values which she has neglected aren’t values (as the relativist would put it, not values *for him*). Rather, she denies that we need to neglect values at all, believing that we can take account of them all. All we need is the rational fortitude, so to speak.

    If this makes sense, Kierkegaard’s view can be seen as attempting to acknowledge the limits of such account-taking. Rather than being a relativist (which he’s so often accused of being), he can be seen as, quite to the contrary, helping us to avoid the *temptation* of relativism as you describe it.

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