Notes: The Variety of Values (by Susan Wolf)

“The way in which morality, unlike other possible goals, is apt to dominate is particularly disturbing, for it seems to require either the lack or the denial of the existence of an identifiable, personal self.”

“The danger is that if we do not mention that… we will stop noticing that it is there, and indeed, the more deeply entrenched welfarist conceptions of value become in our language and in our thought, the less likely it is that we will even recognize the possibility that it is there.”

“There are no reasons for our existence, just causes.”

“What makes her life insufficiently meaningful is that her heart, so to speak, isn’t in these activities. She does not identify with what she is doing–she does not embrace her roles as wife, mother, and homemaker as expressive of who she is and wants to be. We may capture her alienated condition by saying that though she is active, she is not actively engaged. ”

“It seems that meaning in life may not be especially moral, and that indeed lives can be richly meaningful even if they are, on the whole, judged to be immoral. Conversely, that one’s life is at least moderately moral, that it is lived, as it were, above reproach, is no assurance of its being moderately meaningful The alienated housewife, for example, may be in no way subject to moral criticism. ”

“Living a life that is engaged with and so at least partially focused on projects whose values has a non-subjective source is a way of acknowledging one’s non-privileged position. It harmonizes, in a way that a purely ecocentric life does not, with the fact that one is not the center of the universe.”

“The fear that she will wake up to the fact that she has been wasting her life (and have difficulty turning her life around) may not be as terrible as the fear that she won’t wake up to it. If you came to feel secure that no painful moments or awakening would ever come because your friend (or sister or daughter) simply does not care whether her life is meaningful, you might well think that this situation is not better but worse. “


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