Thursday, June 8, 2023

our repertoire............................

I now turn to another feature of the human condition that divides us from our simian relatives: the feature of responsibility.  We hold each other accountable for what we do, and as a result we understand the world in ways that have not parallel in the lives of other species.  Our world, unlike the environment of an animal, contains rights, deserts, and duties; it is a world of self-conscious subjects, in which events are divided into the free and the unfree, those that have reasons and those that are merely caused, those that stem from a rational subject, and those that erupt into the stream of objects with no conscious design.  Thinking of the world in this way, we respond to it with emotions that lie beyond the repertoire of other animals: indignation, resentment, and envy; admiration, commitment, and praise—all of which involve the thought of others as accountable subjects with rights and duties and a self-conscious vision of their future and their past.  Only responsible beings can feel these emotions, and in feeling them, they situate themselves in some way outside the natural order, standing back from it in judgment. 

-Roger Scruton, On Human Nature

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