So here's another approach to add to the stock -- an approach that is also flawed, but which deserves attention because its potential power hasn't yet, I think, been widely enough recognized. Look at the faces of the people around you. Central to our moral character is how we tend to view others nearby. The jerk sees himself as surrounded by fools and losers. The sweetheart vividly appreciates the unique talents and virtues of whomever he's with. The avaricious person sees the people around her as a threat to her resources (time, money, but also possibly space in the subway, position in line, praise from her peers). The person obsessed with social position sees people who vary finely in their relative social standing. Or consider: What do you notice about others' physical appearance? This reveals something morally important about you -- something not directly under your control, a kind of psychological tell.How do you know if you're a truly moral person? How do you know if you're a good teacher? How do you become a better brother, husband or teacher? Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't take long for all these questions to start bleeding together.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
How do you have true self-knowledge about your moral standing? Prof. Eric Schwitzgebel philosophizes his way to a tentative and partial answer: