Final Project Preparation #1: The Myth of Universal Love

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/the-myth-of-universal-love/?_r=0

Main Claim: “The world of Singer’s utilitarianism and Rifkin’s one-tribism is a world of bare minimums, with care spread thinly to cover per capita needs. But in favoritism (like a love relation) people can get way more than they deserve.”

Supporting Points:

  • “Care or empathy is a very limited resource.”
  • “Like sprinting, [caring is] not the kind of thing you can do all the time. You will literally break the system in short order, if you ramp-up the care system every time you see someone in need… They don’t take into account the biology of empathy, and imagine instead that care is more like a thought.”
  • “A recent Niagara of longitudinal happiness studies all confirm that the most important element in a good life (eudaimonia) is close family and friendship ties — ties that bind.”

Discussion Questions:

  • Is there a utilitarian way to care for the unfortunate on a global stage that doesn’t contradict Asma’s theory of favoritism?
  • What about those who don’t have any kith or kin?

Talking Points:

  • Where’s the line where it’s “too far” to spread the love?
  • Is there a middle ground between universal love and favoritism?

Some thoughts (incomplete):

Honestly, what I’ve seen in the world hints that there is too much focus on the individual, the small group; that the things in the world that bring unhappiness – selfishness, greed, ignorance – come from the lack of care of others outside your “kith and kin”. When your child doesn’t have new shoes, can you remind them there are those less fortunate, those who have no shoes at all? Will that not strike in you (and hopefully your child, someday) perspective? With the ability to look outside your inner circles, you derive a contextualization that leads to a greater sense of love and personal contentedness and peace.

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