Locality and Practical Judgment: Charity and Sacrifice

Locality and Practical Judgment: Charity and Sacrifice

Locality and Practical Judgment: Charity and Sacrifice

Locality and Practical Judgment: Charity and Sacrifice

Excerpt

Locality, the principal theme of the ensuing discussion, is the condition that human life and practice are always in medias res, in the midst of things, caught up among them when activities are initiated and terminating among them when activities cease. What such activities are in the midst of are their milieux or "locales": human life is situated among manifold environments, located in manifold surroundings. Locality is incessant and inexhaustible. It follows that what occurs in human experience is always local: located and locating. This generic condition of human life is an expression of a far more general locality: the condition that any being is both located and locating, that its nature and identity, its properties and conditions, are functions of the locales in which it is located and the constituents located within it. At such a generic level, locality is equivalent with inexhaustibility, with multiplicity and excess, with heterogeneity. The function, the work, that beings do in their multiple and heterogenous locations is their ergonality.

Such a position is not altogether new. It is related to the American naturalist and pragmatist traditions and to the views of many twentieth-century European philosophers; it bears affinities with historicism and existentialism, each emphasizing aspects of human finiteness. What is new in the view presented here is the systematic development of locality in application to practical experience. Locality pertains not only to finite beings but also to their conditions and limitations. Even the limits have limits; even the conditions are conditioned. The consequence of this doubly reflexive locality is inexhaustibility. Inexhaustibility is equivalent with multiple locality. Transcendence, excess, belong to every limit, but every limit and every transcendence is local. This is locality's answer to Hegel, preserving his insights into the divided nature of determinateness but rejecting the infinite side of Spirit.

Where my view of locality differs from historicism is in the latter's emphasis on history and time. Every being is located inexhaustibly in many locations and is locatable in many others, including unknown and still to be established locations. History . . .

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