Loving, Valuing, Regretting, and Being Oneself
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CitationNa'aman, Oded. 2015. Loving, Valuing, Regretting, and Being Oneself. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractA meaningful life involves loving people and valuing things. We typically love our spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends, and value our projects, activities, causes, and ideals. In virtue of such attachments, a meaningful life is also susceptible to regret of a distinctively personal kind. Our regrets about the misfortunes and harms that befall the people we love and the things we value reflect the extent to which we are implicated in the fate of those people and things, the extent, that is, to which our attachments determine who we are. What are the reasons to which we respond in loving a particular person or valuing a particular thing, and how do these reasons explain personal regret as well as our conception of who we are? This is the question this dissertation aims to address.
The primary thesis of the first chapter is that we have reasons to love particular individuals as such. The primary thesis of the second chapter is that different individuals rationally value different objects in different ways, while one and the same object can be rationally valued very much by some and not at all by others. The primary thesis of the third chapter is that our present attachments give us reason to regret or affirm the past.
All three chapters make use of the distinction between reasons of attachment and reasons for attachment. Reasons of attachment are the reasons a person takes him- or herself to have with regard to the individual or object he or she loves or values, and reasons for attachment justify or warrant a person’s attachments as well as enable the person’s reasons of attachment. For example, the fact that a person is kind might be a reason for being his or her friend, but the fact that the person is free this afternoon might be a reason of friendship to spend this afternoon with him or her. Alternatively, the fact that Ness-Ziona is my hometown may be a reason for valuing it, but the fact that the orchards of my childhood have been replaced by suburban neighborhoods is a reason of valuing to lament the change Ness-Ziona has undergone.
In addition to the three, positive theses, all three chapters discuss ways in which our reasons for and against attachment might clash with our reasons of attachment with regard to a particular person or object. While reasons for attachment and reasons of attachment often complement each other, they might also pull in opposite directions. When we have most reason to let go of the person we love, of the place that is our home, or of the vocation we cherish, and letting go means failing or abandoning this person, place, or vocation, then the two kinds of reasons¬ may set us against ourselves, as it were. Thus, this dissertation aims to shed light on the rationality of a meaningful life, but it also accounts for inevitable crises of meaning, without which a meaningful life would not be such a tremendous achievement.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23845400
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