BOREDOM & SOLITARY ACTIVITIES
An activity is solitary if it is either done alone or if done with others, the sharing of the activity (as opposed to its results) has only instrumental significance to them. An activity is an individual one if the agent's interest in it is satisfiable apart from any intrinsic interest in the satisfaction of anyone else's interests. Thus not all solitary activities are individual activities, though some very important ones are. Some solitary activities, for example, do not have independent beneficiaries. In normal circumstances, playing chess with a computer is a good of this sort, because the benefit of the activity accrues only to the agent and the playing of the game is itself the benefit. Such activities we can call solitary individual activities. Other solitary activities do have independent beneficiaries and can appropriately be called solitary benevolent activities. Gift giving is often a good example, though there are others, as we will see. Personally benevolent solitary activities have intended beneficiaries who are personally related in an agent-centered way to the agent engaging in the activity. A mother nursing her infant is (under appropriate circumstances) an excellent example, as is a father building a playhouse for his children. Impartially benevolent solitary activities have intended beneficiaries who are not personally related to the agent. Providing Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children might take this form. In all these cases, I have in mind nondeontic activities, activities that if left undone would not result in the agent's self-reproach on reflection. We can summarize, then, as follows:
I. Solitary individual activities without independent beneficiaries
II. Solitary benevolent activities with independent beneficiaries
A. Personally benevolent activities with loved ones (family, friends, neighbors) as independent beneficiaries
B. Impartially benevolent activities with familiar and unfamiliar strangers as independent beneficiaries
The purpose of this essay is to provide an (incomplete) analysis of these activities with an eye to a better understanding of how they find their place within the structure of the psychology of those we admire most. In section 1, I will begin with some comments on our capacities for boredom and how this fact about us is telling in regard to how these activities appear to us as good within our deliberative field. They appear to us, I argue, as worthy of choice in the Aristotelian sense that they, among other things, make life worthy of choice from our point of view. Without some threshold level of these goods, our own agency would not even matter to us. Hence an adequate phenomenology of these values reveals that an ontology of value that starts with the value of rational agency distorts the value of these goods as they appear within our deliberative field. Section II discusses solitary individual activities; sections III and IV, personally benevolent solitary activities; and section V, impartially benevolent solitary activities.
In a delightful essay on boredom, Robert Nisbet has said that humans are apparently unique in the capacity for boredom:
We share with all forms of life periodic apathy, but apathy and boredom are different. Apathy is a depressed immobility that can come upon the organism, whether amoeba or man, when the environment can no longer be adequately assimilated by the nervous system, when the normal signals are either too faint or too conflicting. It is a kind of withdrawal from consciousness. Once sunk in apathy, the organism is inert and remains so until external stimulus jars it loose or else death ensues.
Boredom is much farther up the scale of afflictions than is apathy, and it is probable that only a nervous system as highly developed as man's is even capable of boredom. And within the human species, a level of mentality at least "normal" appears to be a requirement. The moron may know apathy but not boredom. Work of the mindlessly repetitive kind, which is perfectly acceptable to the moron, all else being equal, quickly induces boredom in the normally intelligent worker.
Both apathy and boredom are states of an organism in which the organism cannot take an interest in activity. In the case of apathy, the indifference to activity is because the stimuli within the organism's environment are either too faint or too demanding for the organism to assimilate. Ironically, too much stimuli can shut the organism down. Boredom, however, is not like this. Boredom is not due to faint stimuli or to the bombardment of stimuli but to the lack of anything in the organism's environment that is stimulating even when assimilated. It involves a lack of anything interesting to do.
There is another difference between apathy and boredom that Nisbet does not mention, though it is implied in other things he says. Apathy is not a state of discontentment, but boredom is. Cats, for example, often seem apathetic but seldom bored. There is a limited range of activities that interest a cat. If these are not available, the cat simply goes to sleep. For the normal human this is not true. When a normal human has had a certain amount of sleep and there are no activities available of interest, eventually the normal human experiences a profound state of discontentment. This discontentment, of course, is the state of boredom, which involves an intense desire for meaningful activity where there is a lack of anything interesting to do.
Some have speculated that our capacity for boredom is in some sense an evolutionary function of the fact that, as a species, we had to develop a highly sophisticated nervous system in order to survive in our natural environment. The capacity for a state of highly pitched attentiveness together with highly developed cognitive powers, so the speculation goes, not only were adaptive to the environment but also rendered us vulnerable to boredom. In fact, boredom itself might be an adaptive mechanism, one that forces human organisms to develop their cognitive and perceptual capacities in a way that ensures creative adaptability. Without the restlessness that comes with inactivity, our cognitive and cultural development would have been much different. But be this speculation as it may, we are, in fact, extremely vulnerable to boredom. Left to boredom long and intense enough, we do not simply go to sleep; we go insane.
This fundamental fact about our psychology should play a central role in any conception of the human good and practical reason in at least two ways. The first has to do with the way in which the goods of activity are phenomenologically present within an agent's deliberative field. They must be present as intrinsic goods rather than mere instrumental goods, and they must fall under relevant value categories. Just as our capacities for self-assessment lead to ourselves appearing as ends within our deliberative field, and just as our loving capacities lead to our loved ones appearing there as beloved ends, our capacity for boredom and the capacities that underwrite it lead to some activities appearing within our deliberative field as ends, as activities to pursue for their own sake. Moreover, the goods of activity appear within an agent's deliberative field under relevant value categories. As goods that answer to our capacities for self-assessment, we appear within our deliberative field not only as ends but as ends worthy of respect. As goods that answer to our loving capacities, our loved ones appear within our deliberative field not only as ends but as beloved ends. These are, respectively, the relevant kinds of value categories for these goods. The goods of activity, however, appear within our deliberative field under other value categories. Among them are "interesting," "satisfying," "fascinating," "delightful," "amusing," and "captivating." That is, the nondeontic goods of activity appear within our deliberative field as activities that are good in that they are interesting, satisfying, fascinating, delightful, amusing, or captivating.
For now, the most important thing to notice about the value categories relevant to nondeontic activities is that they are all, in a broad sense, aesthetic categories. To be sure, these categories need not involve the kind of aesthetic appreciation involved in high art; nevertheless, to find something fascinating or delightful, for example, is often (though not always) far closer to involving the category of beauty or some other aesthetic category than the categories of respectable, loving, or morally good. Thus this fact about the value categories relevant to the goods of activity raises the important and largely neglected issue of the role of the aesthetic within practical reason. I will have much more to say about this as we go along.
The second way in which the fundamental facts about boredom and our psychology should play a central role in any conception of the human good and practical reason is that some threshold level of these goods is of categorical value to any remotely normal human agent. It is the fact that boredom is a threat to our very survival that makes the goods of activity categorical goods, and it is this fact that explains the phenomenology of the appearance of the goods of activity within our deliberative field as, in a broad sense, aesthetic goods. But if this is true, then our agency is a value to us, that is, it appears within our deliberative field as good to us, only if we do not find life utterly boring. And, in order for this to be true, we must have some activities that are available to us because they are in one way or another aesthetically appealing. If we do not find some activities available to us that are interesting, satisfying, fascinating, delightful, captivating, or the like, we will eventually either fall prey to apathy toward our existence or be driven insane by the effects of boredom. This, I believe, should lead us to reject the notion that value comes into the world only as the result of rational agency, as Korsgaard and Kant seem to have it. Rather, it seems that rational agency is valuable only if other things are valuable. And this is a comment on how things appear within our deliberative field: Our agency does not appear to us as good within our deliberative field when all the activities that appear there are cloaked in utter tedium and devoid of aesthetic appeal. In Aristotelian terms, the life of agency without the goods of activity is unworthy of choice when the activities of that life are utterly tedious and boring.
I do not see how either Kant or Korsgaard can account for this fact about our valuing our lives and ourselves. Kant has it that respect for our rational agency prohibits our taking our own lives, regardless of how dreary life might be. Kantian internalists must give an account of this, and doing so is difficult. On the internalist view, just the thought that we are rational agents is enough to give us reasons for living, even if everything else about our lives is meaningless. Of course, this is just false. If everything else is meaningless, then our lives and our agency are meaningless from our own points of view. Nor will it do to say, as Korsgaard does, that the value of life is the foundation of all value. One can value one's life only when one can value a way of living. Were the value of life fundamental in Korsgaard's sense, then any way of life would be minimally worth living. She also says, "The price of denying that humanity is of value is complete normative scepticism." No. The consequence of complete normative skepticism is the denial of the value of humanity, and were it the case that the only ways of life open to humans were utterly tedious and boring we would be complete normative skeptics. We would judge that human life and agency are not of much value because there would be no way of life open to humans that would make human life worthy of choice.
An understanding of boredom, then, is helpful in understanding the phenomenology of how the goods of activity appear within an agent's deliberative field. But it is also helpful in understanding the natural ontology of these values as the explanation for the phenomenology. The goods of activity, like the goods of respect and love, have their foundation in the psychological capacities of the agent.
In this regard, it is important to distinguish a capacity from the capacities that underwrite it, as it is equally important to understand the similarities between the accounts of the goods of love and respect and the goods of activity and their roles in practical reason. Loneliness is one psychological state for which most humans have the capacity. Those who have this capacity, however, have it as a result of other capacities they have, among which are the capacities for love and intimacy. But there are others; for instance, the capacities for memory and desire. Indeed, loneliness involves the desire for love and intimacy, often with some particular person. The remembering of a loved one who is absent with a desire for the loved one's company triggers the loneliness. Thus a being devoid of the capacities for love and intimacy and the desire for them would be immune to loneliness: If you are not a person who values others as ends of a certain sort, you are simply not capable of loneliness.
It is the fact that the capacity for loneliness is a function of the capacities of love and intimacy that loved ones cannot be taken as mere means to the amelioration of loneliness. Rather, loneliness is a function of the fact that a person's affective capacities include love, the valuing of specific others as ends of a certain sort. Hence the naturalized ontology of value explains the phenomenology of both how the goods of love appear within an agent's deliberative field and ultimately why the agent has the normative thoughts of love, why the agent justifies things in the way that he or she does. In other terms: An understanding of loneliness and the capacities that underwrite it explain the place of the goods of love within practical reason.
Something similar regarding the capacity for boredom and the capacities that underwrite it explains the role of the goods of activity within practical reason. Among the capacities that underwrite the capacity for boredom are the capacities to find things interesting, satisfying, amusing, fascinating, or captivating. These latter capacities explain why activities appear within an agent's deliberative field as good under the relevant value categories and as ends of a certain sort. What is crucial to note is that these capacities are aesthetic capacities. Observations about the effects of boredom, then, show that aesthetic capacities are fundamental to the structure of our psychology, which explains why the goods associated with the capacities that underwrite the capacity for boredom are, at some threshold, categorical goods. This means that not only are some aesthetic goods categorical, but that any acceptable theory of practical reason must afford them this status. Otherwise, the theory is contrary to the natural ontology of value. But I will argue not only that the aesthetic goods of activity at some threshold level are categorical goods but also that the norms associated with these goods are symmetrical in their regulative functions regarding the goods of respect and love. If this is true, then, if we think of moral norms as those associated with respect, sympathy, and love for others, then aesthetic norms and moral norms are symmetrical in their regulative effects. Hence an understanding of the capacity for boredom and the capacities that underwrite it explain why the goods of activity play the role they do within practical reason. As such, the account here provides a naturalistic ontology of value.
In what follows, I want to see how these thoughts gain credibility as we take a closer look at the goods of solitary activity.
The first kind of activities to consider are solitary individual activities. These are activities that do not have independent beneficiaries and are either done alone or if done with others, the sharing of the activity has only instrumental value to the other participants. Consider work activities. Again, Nisbet is interesting. He says:
Work, more or less attuned to the worker's aptitudes, is undoubtedly the best defense against boredom. As Denis Gabor emphasized, work is the only visible activity to which man may be safely left.
There have been workless strata before in the history of society. Think only of the half-million in imperial Rome on the dole… out of a total of two million people. The results were unsalutary, to say the least, and Toynbee gave this "internal proletariat," with its bored restlessness, its unproductivity, and its rising resentment of the government that fed it, credit for being, along with the "external proletariat" or invading barbarians, one of the two key causes of the eventual collapse of the Western Roman Empire. In the modern day, chronic joblessness, especially among youth but in other strata as well, not overlooking the retired elderly, produces its baneful results, ranging from the mindless violence of youth on the streets to the millions of elderly who, jobless and also functionless, lapse into boredom which all too often becomes apathy and depression.
Though these observations are hardly the product of hard, systematic social science, they do suggest as fact that where humans are not involved in meaningful work destructive restlessness is the result. The point is not simply that if people have to busy themselves with work they will have no time for mischief. Rather, it is that there are no other kinds of activities that engage humans deeply enough over time in a way that prevents the kind of restlessness that results in such destructiveness.
Though there is much to be said for these general comments on work, we need here to be more fine grained in our specification of work activities. Are there significant domains of work activity—activity that involves labor—that are both solitary individual activities and of central importance in many persons' lives as independent goods, as good independent of the esteem they confer? If so, are they productive activities, contribution activities, or accomplishment activities, or all of these? Must at least some be creative, or can they all be routine? These are some of the questions that must be addressed here. But remember that the emphasis in this context is on the issue of survival, not the issue of flourishing. It is one thing to say that someone's life is less flourishing than it could be if it lacks all opportunity for meaningful work. It is quite another to say that such a life would not be worth living for many, regardless of what else life includes.
It is plausible that over time creative activities of both work and play are essential to avoid the debilitating effects of boredom for any normal human. For a person of average intelligence, the lightheartedness of play loses its appeal eventually and probably very quickly. This is likely true of children as well. It is only from the perspective of an adult that most of the activities that appear meaningful to a child are play activities. Most probably involve the same kind of effort that goes into adult labor. Indeed, boredom sets in for an average child when its activities cease to challenge, to demand effort, to tax to some significant degree. Play actually seems to have its place in human psychology as a temporary leave from other types of activities. This explains why leisure soon becomes excruciatingly boring for the average person. That some of the activities of both play and work would not need to be solitary and individual in the relevant senses is implausible. Cognitive development alone would suggest that a significant portion of learning activities for both children and adults is solitary in this sense. That it is gives our lives much of its meaning when we are not engaged more socially. Learning activities of either work or play are often solitary in the relevant sense.
Also, a life full of every good thing except meaningful creative labor would no doubt soon become terribly burdensome for most. Play alone cannot relieve the weight of merely instrumental effort, of deontic activities, and of what can become humdrum routine. If not offset by the excitement of discovery and creativity that demands labor, it is simply insufficient as a panacea regarding boredom. Not even the knowledge that one is loved and that one loves others is sufficient over a protracted period. Love must become active, more than playful, and have some degree of discovery in it to be sustaining for very long. For it is a fact about personal love that if it does not remain dynamic it dies, and sometimes probably from boredom.
Regarding the aesthetic categories relevant to work activities: It is plausible to think that categories such as "fascinating" and "captivating" are the most relevant. To involve labor, the activities must be challenging, and, to avoid the dreaded kind, the labor must be to some degree fascinating and captivating. Without some threshold level of work activity that is both captivating and challenging, any reasonably intelligent person is vulnerable to the devastating effects of boredom; mere play will not suffice. Indeed, it is plausible that the more intelligent the creature, the larger the role aesthetic goods, especially aesthetic activities that are captivating and challenging, play in its psychology.
However, to argue that play is not sufficient to displace boredom is not to argue that it does not have an essential place in human experience. Just as play can become tiresome, so can work, even meaningful work. Periods of intense creative activity are very rewarding, but they are also draining. So are routine, uncreative work activities. This is because they involve labor, and protracted labor of any sort is exhausting. It leaves a person not only in need of rest—periods of inactivity—but in need of lightness of activity, in need of play. Imagine what life would be like if there were only the options of labor or inactivity. Not only would such a life exact a heavy toll on each person's individual interests; it would wreak havoc with personal relationships. For the only active associations with others a person would have would always have some taxing dimension to them. Over time, this would be more than an inconvenience; it would be unbearable. Yet this is only one thing that makes a life of mere work and rest so debilitating to those who find themselves forced into it. The children of the poor probably get more rest than they do play, and it is perhaps as much the lack of play as anything else that takes the sparkle from their eyes.
Recognition of the importance of creative activities, however, should not lead us to underestimate the value of routine activities. The inability to sustain creative engagement itself makes it imperative that if the human organism is to survive it must find much of routine activity inherently rewarding. That humans do find much of this activity rewarding goes a long way in explaining why humans have survived the vicissitudes of evolution. It explains why they have retained enough interest in themselves and their environment to find the struggle worthwhile. Thus the fact that an activity is routine should not in itself lead us to think that it is of mere instrumental significance in an agent's life. Rather, it is a life confined to the routine, without periods of creative work and leisure, that is debilitating. Otherwise, the routine itself contains much activity that is intrinsically indispensable. Though meaningful routine might not be fascinating, some level of it is very satisfying, a less intense level of aesthetic experience. Were routine activities not at all satisfying, we would be hard-pressed to cope with life.
It is plausible then that the integration of routine work activities with creative work and play is not only necessary for a life of flourishing. Some degree of this seems necessary for the very survival of human integrity. The lack of it threatens the human ability to maintain an interest in life over time.
But why think that any of these activities must be solitary individual activities? The argument that some of them must be centers on two features of these kinds of activities. One involves creative activities; the other, routine contribution activities regarding one's own welfare.
There is a sphere of creative activity that is independent of the contribution feature of work activity. It exemplifies itself in the pursuit of art for art's sake and sport where the emphasis is not on winning but on how one plays the game. In both, the emphasis is not on contribution but on authenticity. In fact, the authenticity of creative activity with the concern for purity of pursuit is a mark of an agent's valuing creativity for its own sake. This is true whether it is in art, sport, the pursuit of knowledge, or wherever. Thus to engage in an activity to display for others one's cleverness at novelty may indeed be very creative, but it is not thereby valued for its creative dimension. Rather, the thought that there is a connection between the purity of one's activity and its being one's own is central to its being valued for its creative aspect. Therefore, the satisfaction of exercising one's own skill or insight is irreducibly individual in this aspect of the value of creativity, even when other more social dimensions are present.
On the other end of the spectrum are individual interests connected with the activities of routine everyday experience. These are basic welfare interests related to food, shelter, and health maintenance. The desire to contribute to one's own welfare and development is a normal desire for most of us. The valuing of such activity is not always reducible to the thought that it results in an acceptable state of welfare or personal development. For one might be disappointed that one's welfare has not resulted from an activity that is one's own. In fact, it is a feature of any plausible view of human welfare that an agent makes some contribution, however small or indirect, to his or her own welfare. Another feature is that the agent values some activities of this sort for their own sake. What clearer sign could there be that a person is deeply self-alienated than that he or she finds none of the routine activities of self-care intrinsically rewarding?
There are, of course, many cases in which some such contributions are not possible for any particular agent. Still it is hard to conceive of human welfare where it is not a loss for the agent that the agent could make no contribution of this sort. If this is true, then at least some (I suspect many) activities of contribution to one's own welfare are those an agent values intrinsically as individual goods. Some such activities would be pursued where possible by most people, even where they were completely and easily eliminable without loss of their other contributory ends. Being a mere patient, then, regarding one's welfare needs is a fantasy only for the overworked. Just as dreams of freedom from welfare needs and activities is one kind of nightmare, a world scarce in work activity is another. I also suspect that most people would pursue some work activities involving their own welfare needs, even at a significant cost to themselves.
Yet it might be objected that some people, due to extreme physical handicaps, cannot engage in contribution activities regarding their own welfare. Though their disabilities are a loss to them in just this regard, still they are among the most admirable and well adjusted people. They are certainly not people who have lost the basic elements of human integrity.
There are several things that must be said in response to this, none of which denies that there are indeed such people. The first is this: To argue that individual contribution activities are categorical goods is not to argue that they are universally so, however close they come to being so. It is to argue that they can and do function in a manner that often involves a person's identifying thoughts in important ways. The second thing to note is that we recognize as truly exceptional those who are well adjusted and admirable despite these handicaps. We stand in wonder of how they could survive, given their losses. Also, our attitude toward their integrity is admiration rather than pity, and our identifying thoughts reveal doubts that we could survive such misfortune. Finally, we must understand the options of those who do survive with such handicaps regarding the ability to engage in these welfare contribution activities. If such a person is a talented person who has opportunity to develop that talent, his or her chances for survival increase tremendously. Why? Because an extremely physically handicapped person with significant intelligence but without opportunity for development must suffer through hours and hours of inactivity. But even where there is talent and opportunity for creative activity, the adjustment to the passivity in the routine regarding the agent's welfare needs will be most difficult. Those of us not physically handicapped can hardly appreciate the difficulties of adjusting to a routine filled with someone else's activities rather than our own. Our routines are active and interestingly so, even when they are uncreative, and this is a great blessing.
I conclude then that there are many intrinsically valued solitary activities of the individual sort. Many are in all probability of categorical importance to most of us as independent goods of activity. Writing a book is most valuable to its author (at least to an author of a certain sort) in that it is both challenging and fascinating. That it might make a contribution is, of course, a reason to think it worthy of publication, but writing a book and publishing a book are different activities. Any real writer, or artist, or musician, or scientist will tell you that what drives his or her work activity most is that it is fascinating and challenging. That some will take this claim with either dull surprise or disbelief only reflects their lack of understanding of what life is sometimes like for others. And though it is difficult for any of us to say what it is like to be a bat, some of us know what it is like to be a writer, an artist, a musician, or a scientist. It is to be taken with one's work, to be fascinated by it, to be captivated by it, to be lost in it. To be stripped of it is to be left in a world without color. The same, of course, can be said of many other workers and for many other kinds of work from carpentry to dentistry and from teaching to designing.
In contrast with individual solitary activities is another group of activities that are done alone in the relevant sense and are of intrinsic value to the agent. But, unlike solitary individual activities, they have beneficiaries other than the agent. The agent is still an intrinsic beneficiary of the activity in the sense that these activities have intrinsic as well as (perhaps) instrumental value to the agent. But there are others who are independent beneficiaries of these activities in the sense that they either do not participate in the activities themselves or if they do, the activities themselves have only instrumental value to them. For this reason, these activities are solitary but are other-as well as self-regarding. The idea is that some activities are intrinsically valuable to an agent because they are intrinsically related to the satisfaction of someone else's interests. It is because these activities are both solitary and other-regarding that I call them solitary benevolent activities, remembering that they are nondeontic activities. Thus the issue for the remainder of this essay is this: What role does the intrinsic interest in solitary benevolent activities play in the integrity of the agent of integrity in the thick sense?
Recall from earlier discussion that there are two types of these solitary activities, personally benevolent solitary activities and impartially benevolent solitary activities. Personally benevolent activities have independent beneficiaries personally related to the agent through some form of personal love or close personal attachment. Impartially benevolent activities have independent beneficiaries not specially related to the agent. I will say more about the latter activities later, but first I must address the former.
Personally benevolent solitary activities are done for the sake of one's loved ones, that is, for one's friends, family, neighbors, or community in some larger sense. As beneficiaries, loved ones are independent by virtue of not sharing the activity with the agent as an intrinsic good. Thus they are independently related to the activity as a good but personally related to the agent. Consequently, there are at least as many types of personally benevolent activities as there are personal relationships. Since my aim here has its limits in the structural significance of these goods to human integrity, I will restrict discussion to contribution activities of the personally benevolent sort. I will not attempt anything like a complete account.
Remember that contribution activities aim at enhancing the good of someone or some thing. Personally benevolent solitary activities of this sort, then, are those that aim at enhancing the good of someone with whom the agent has a loving relationship—a family member, a friend, or a member of the community. Of special importance are the agent's interest in the welfare of loved ones and the interest in being their benefactor.
Consider the nurturing activities of a parent toward a beloved child. Earlier we saw that any loving parent feels obligated to engage in some activities regarding the welfare interests of the child by virtue of parental love. Without such a feeling, we are at a loss to make sense of the parent's love. We are at a similar loss if we find the parent averse to all nondeontic activities regarding the child's welfare interests. Imagine a parent who looks with dread on any and all welfare-related activities regarding its child. Within the agent's deliberative field, all such activities are viewed as cloaked in tedium. All are done either out of some sense of obligation or simply as instrumentally important to the child's well-being. It is not that the parent does not want the child to prosper. Indeed, this parent wants benefits to accrue to the child in excess of what he or she feels an obligation to provide. But there remains an aversion to the activities that are the means that provide these benefits, an aversion that is outweighed by the concern for the child's welfare. Is this parental love?
Whatever else the concern such a person might have for the child, it is difficult to make sense of it as parental love. Personal love—of whatever type—takes delight in caring for loved ones. Some threshold level of these activities appears within the loving parent's deliberative field as delightful, which marks these activities as the kind of nondeontic activities in question. To force them into deontic or moral categories is to distort the kinds of goods they are. Thus, for example, never taking delight in providing the welfare benefit of emotional security for one's child through nurturing activities is simply incompatible with parental love.
To appreciate the kind of value these activities have, we need to pay careful attention to their phenomenology. What we need is a better understanding of when a delightful experience is aesthetic in the broad sense? Contrast three different cases of finding something delightful: (i) finding it delightful that a state of affairs obtains, for example, that your children are happy; (ii) taking delight in the results of your actions, for example, that your actions bring joy to your children; and (iii) taking delight in activities themselves, for example, taking delight in playing with and nurturing your children. In the first case, one could take delight in a state of affairs that is entirely unrelated to one's actions. Think, for example, of being away from home and learning that your children are doing well. The feeling that comes from such good news does not seem to me particularly aesthetic, even in a broad sense. Nor would the feeling that comes from knowing that your children are pleased that you had prepared their favorite meal for them while they were away all day at school, which would be an instance of (ii). You might find preparing the meal onerous except for the fact that it has the payoff of bringing joy to your children. But consider the person who would take delight not only in the fact of the payoff but also in preparing the meal itself. One of two things might be true. First, such a parent might take delight in cooking independent of the other delight in the payoff. Suppose this is true. There remains the question of whether the two delights are simply two instantiations of one kind of experience or whether they are two different kinds of experience. I believe there are good reasons for thinking that it is the latter and that this is important for practical reason.
One very important reason for thinking that the delights in this case are of different kinds is that approximate synonymous expressions for one experience cannot be substituted for the other. For example, instead of describing the experience of finding the cooking itself valuable, we might say that it is interesting, fascinating, or captivating. But to substitute these descriptions for the delight taken in the state of affairs of your children being pleased at having their favorite meal seems odd, to say the least. Imagine thinking that it is interesting that your child is pleased or finding such a fact fascinating or being captivated by it. None of these seems to capture the relevant sense of delight, yet they seem to apply rather straightforwardly to finding the cooking itself delightful.
The second possibility is that it is not cooking alone that you find delightful but cooking for your children, where the cooking is not valued merely instrumentally. In this kind of case, it seems that the activity of cooking also falls under another description. For instance, you might intrinsically value cooking as an instance of another kind of activity that you intrinsically value. If you see your cooking as a nurturing activity and if you intrinsically value nurturing activities, then you might intrinsically value your cooking for your children in a way that you might not value cooking per se. This would be to place intrinsic rather than mere instrumental value on your activity; hence you would not value your activity merely for its results. Now suppose that you take delight in cooking for your children and you take delight in the fact that your children are pleased with their favorite meal. Are these two different delights, and are they of different kinds? Are they phenomenologically distinct? I believe that they are, though their distinctness is easily overlooked.
One might find it interesting, fascinating, and captivating to cook for one's children in a way that one does not find it interesting, fascinating, or captivating to cook per se. To do so is to find the nurturing of one's children interesting, fascinating, and captivating. If you are a parent of this sort, then you take aesthetic delight in some of your nurturing activities in that you find them interesting, satisfying, fascinating, or captivating, but you also take nonaesthetic delight in the results of these activities. If this is true, then for some people the capacity for boredom is underwritten not only by the capacities to find some activities interesting, fascinating, captivating, and the like but also by social capacities, among which are loving capacities. The loving parent is not only one who can take loving delight in the results of her nurturing activities but also one who can take aesthetic delight in and be fascinated and captivated by nurturing activities. Any adequate conception of practical reason that applies to loving parents must therefore recognize the role of aesthetic reasons in their normative thoughts. Later, I will argue that these observations have previously unnoticed implications for a normative conceptual scheme, namely, that not only do various goods that give rise to deontic beliefs symmetrically regulate each other, but also the deontic and the nondeontic, the moral and the nonmoral, are symmetrical in their regulative functions.
There are, of course, moments when the delight subsides in the case of deontic activities, and the sense of obligation internal to personal love must take over. But the dispositions of a person who anticipates with dread any thought of welfare-related activities regarding loved ones are not those of love. Nor are those of the person who does not find intrinsic value in some such activities that are independent of what the lover feels is owed to loved ones. Thus the loving parent takes delight in some activities that contribute to the child's good independent of any sense of obligation he or she has toward the child. As a source of personal delight, the loving parent sees these activities not only as beneficial to the child but also as a part of the parent's own good. Without this conception of parental good as including contribution activities of this sort, we are unable to understand a person as a loving parent. If this is true, then our intrinsic interest in many loving activities underwrites our capacity not only for loneliness but for boredom as well. Without loving activities, we are vulnerable to the loneliness that fills the space where nonaesthetic delight should be, and without some loving activities being interesting, fascinating, and captivating, we are without the aesthetic delight that wards off boredom. That there should be a confluence of these interests and capacities should not be surprising on reflection. It is nature's way of getting us to enjoy what is good not only for us but also for the species.
One might admit this, however, and question whether any of these activities must include labor. Is it not enough simply to want to play with one's child and leave the labor to others, if one can? The problem with this suggestion is that it involves an impoverished conception of nurturing. If we confine the concept of nurturing to play activities, it is difficult to distinguish loving a child in a parental way from some lesser form of attachment. Suppose I enjoy playing with my neighbor's children, and I care for their welfare in that I am committed to their welfare needs being met. Being less affluent than myself, my neighbors need assistance that I am willing to provide in meeting the welfare needs of their children. The parents do the nurturing, enjoying a good bit of it; I pay the bills, without a trace of resentment; and I play with the children, aversive to any of the activities that constitute the nurturing. Perhaps I love the children, but there would be a clear distinction between the love I have for them and the love their parents have for them. Moreover, this judgment seems confirmed by the increasing difficulties we have with a conception of fatherhood confined exclusively to the role of secondary care: Too many secondary care responsibilities dull the capacity for primary care and thereby dull the capacity for parental love.
Furthermore, the degree of caring about the child's welfare and the delight in activities that secure it will not only exceed the feelings of obligation to the child. They will also exceed the feelings of obligation to others for whom the parent has impartial respect and esteem. We may see in another essay how this works out regarding the priorities problem and the goods of activity. For now it is sufficient to point out that some commitments involving personal benevolence take priority over some impartial commitments. Here this is true of the intentional dispositional states of someone whose integrity involves parental love and the ground project of parenthood but who also has simple respect and esteem for others. But, in this case, the activities are nondeontic, solitary activities. Thus the integration problem is to be understood as the deontic having to make a place for the nondeontic. This is not an insignificant fact about a normative conceptual scheme, and could be expanded on in another occasion.
For the moment, however, consider, a loving parent making a lifeaffecting choice that makes possible some significant degree of these contribution activities regarding a beloved child. Would this show a lack of respect for others, even if it diminished to some degree the capacity or opportunity to assist others with their rights? If so, the integration of parental affection and impartial respect can only take the form of subservience of the personal to the impersonal and the nondeontic to the deontic. But this is simply not our understanding of these concepts.
If we assume that you are a loving parent to your daughter, say, and a respectful person, it is not a sign that you do not respect others if in some contexts you give priority to personally benevolent activities regarding your daughter over some of the interests of respectable people. This is true even where these activities are not required by what you feel you ought to do for your daughter. We would have serious questions about the depth of your love for your daughter if you did not have such priorities, if you did not do some things for her simply because you find them delightful. Indeed, such priorities are a part of a loving parent's humanity and integrity. If this is true, then in some contexts you would have, as a function of having parental love for your child, the normative belief that you ought to do y for the sake of some respectable person or persons were it not for the delightfulness of doing x for your child, even where you do not view doing x for your child as an obligation. This is a new kind of normative belief, one as yet unanalyzed in terms of the priorities problem. If such beliefs are rational for us, then our conceptual scheme will reflect the fact that for us the deontic and the nondeontic, the aesthetic and the moral, are symmetrical in their regulative functions. This kind of norm is a component in a loving parent's dispositions and that this is compatible with simple respect for others. Also, since all personal love includes the interests in the welfare of loved ones and in being their benefactor and in taking delight in loving activities, the analysis extends to all forms of loving relationships.
Of course, if your dispositional set includes both personal love for your child and respect for others, there are contexts in which you will believe that others' interests take priority over your nondeontic interest in the delightful activities of benefiting your child. You will believe in some contexts that it would be wrong for you to do x for the sake of your child, despite its delightfulness, because you will believe that you have an obligation to do y for other respectable people. This, of course, shows the regulative influence of impartial respect on the place of the goods of activity in our lives.
Thus far the concern has been with the loved one as an extrinsic though independent beneficiary of the lover's activities. The loved one is an extrinsic beneficiary when the benefit is simply the result of the activity. Think of a baby benefiting from having its diaper changed. There are, however, other activities in which the loved one is intended as an intrinsic yet independent beneficiary. In these cases, the loved one is an intrinsic beneficiary because the activity itself is of intrinsic value to her. In both cases, however, she is an independent beneficiary in the sense that she is not an agent in the activities themselves.
Activities having an intrinsic independent beneficiary I call activities of recognition. I am not sure whether to say that such activities are a type of contribution activity or a separate category. The most important point is that the good of the activity is not entirely independent of the activity itself, yet the loved one is not an agent in the activity. I have in mind the lover's activities that express the importance of the loved one to the lover.
Some ways of expressing the importance of the loved one to the lover involve expressions of affection, but these are usually shared activities. Thus solitary activities of recognition involve either unilateral expressions of affection or some other expression of importance of the loved one to the lover. Sometimes these expressions involve "honoring" the loved one. Thus there are two types of unilateral activities of recognition: unilateral activities of affection and unilateral honoring activities.
We can summarize the distinctions regarding personally benevolent solitary activities as follows:
I. Unilateral activities with extrinsic beneficiaries
II. Unilateral activities of affection with intrinsic beneficiaries
III. Unilateral honoring activities with intrinsic beneficiaries
An example of a unilateral activity of affection might be one involving friendship, say, giving a gift to a friend. Your friend is not a participant in the activity but an intrinsic beneficiary of it. The giving expresses the affection, for the object that is the gift would not have the same meaning apart from the giving. Of course, some gifts have extrinsic benefits, but many of them either do not or they have dual benefits. Perhaps your gift to your friend involves the activity of preparing her favorite meal. In fact, it seems that the giving of gifts in some form—though not necessarily of material goods—is most certainly an essential element in human flourishing. The reason I say this is that it allows humans to express their graciousness to those they love. A gift well given is one that not only expresses love and thoughtfulness for what is given but also expresses grace in how it is given. Part of the way, then, in which gift giving appears within the loving agent's deliberative field as good is in terms of it graciousness, clearly an aesthetic category. Could a life totally without opportunities for graciousness to loved ones and delightfulness in it possibly be the best life for a communal being to live? The answer seems obvious to anyone not in the throes of a highly individualistic conception of the human good. Yet what might not be so obvious is that some level of the goods of unilateral activities of affection is necessary for the survival of human integrity.
One misleading argument for the categorical value of such activities is that if social beings are never the intrinsic beneficiaries of such activities, they will lose their sense of self-worth. The problem with such an argument is not its premises but its conclusion. The fact that such benefits are essential to the survival of a sense of self-worth does not show that the activities are the sorts of goods in question. What we are evaluating here is not whether your solitary activity of engaging in x is an intrinsic, extrinsic, or dual benefit to your friend. Rather, it is whether your engaging in doing x as an element in your way of life is a categorical good for you as a nondeontic activity. If the loss to you of never engaging in x for a friend is explained entirely in terms of her interests, then the activity is not the relevant sort. Nor are activities the absence of which from your life would result in your having a sense of guilt but no sense of personal loss. The reason in each case is that the activities must be intrinsic goods for you and they must be nondeontic activities.
Relative, then, to the class of agents of integrity in the thick sense, we can conclude that all such persons intrinsically value such activities of recognition. All such agents would unmistakenly find these activities an intrinsic part of the life most worth living. The issue here, though, concerns not that of human flourishing but that of human survival in the relevant sense. The question then is this: Could all such loving beings survive the complete loss of such activities in their lives with their integrity intact? Or could at least some of them survive by taking a categorically consoling interest in some other human good?
It does not seem plausible that there is any impartial interest that in itself could console for a complete loss of such goods in a person's life. Think what it would be like to sacrifice permanently any gracious communication of your affection to your children, your parents, your spouse or romantic lover, your friends, or your neighbors on the grounds of simple respect, sympathy, or esteem for others. It is difficult to see how such a sacrifice could be anything other than the sacrifice of one's life and one's reasons for living. As such, it would be the sacrifice of oneself as an ongoing agent, and this might occur only were there no way to be both a loving person and a person with self-respect. Our previous discussion of the role of the goods of love as nondeliberative goods is relevant here. The goods of love, where they exist, simply impose a deliberative limit on the concept of personal sacrifice in the name of impartial concerns. The goods of personally benevolent activities of the sort involving graciousness are another example of this. But what I am arguing here is that some threshold level of these goods is necessary in the lives of most for survival of the basic elements of integrity in the thin sense. I am not arguing that all conflicts between such goods and impartial concerns must give priority to these activities. Beyond a threshold level, these goods are nondeliberative goods in relationship to impartial concerns. It is in this sense that these activities are categorical goods for at least most of us.
More plausible as a consoling factor for the complete loss of unilateral activities of affection are shared activities of affection. Perhaps some persons could survive and even flourish without engaging in these unilateral activities, as long as there was some abundance of shared activities in their lives.
Although we should not underestimate the value of unilateral expressions of affection, let us suppose that they can be significantly consoled for by shared expressions of affection. But what if the only consoling interest sufficient to console for the loss of these solitary goods is the interest in personally shared goods? The same structural points regarding the place of agent-centered goods of activity in relationship to impartial concerns remain intact. My major concern here is to show that agent-centered goods of activity limit the demands of impartiality in the integrity of a normal human agent. Therefore, a concession to the relative categorical value of solitary activities to shared activities of the sort in question would not undermine the core of my analysis.
Yet there is reason to think that the unilateral aspect of these activities is more crucial than the previous paragraph suggests. The intrinsic benefits of such activities serve to convey not only that the loved one is important to the lover but also, because these activities are unilateral, that the loved one is important as a separate and numerically distinct person. Moreover, the interest in expressing this is to be found internal to the phenomenon of personal love itself. Thus such activities not only confer benefits on the loved one but are the objects of an intrinsic interest of the lover. To love another includes the interest in expressing not only how important the other is to oneself but also, quite simply, how important she is period.
A similar analysis applies to activities of recognition that "honor" loved ones. This is true, despite the fact that it is often difficult to draw a hard line between expressions of affection and honoring expressions in personal relationships. To honor a person is to hold that person in esteem, to value that person in some significant degree beyond the point of mere respect. It takes little to express toleration, but it takes greater attention to detail to honor a loved one. In the former case, one needs only to avoid actions that show contempt. But in the latter, there must be overt behavioral manifestation of the lover's recognition of the loved one's esteem-conferring qualities. In cases of peer love, honoring activities are no less important in the lover's love for the loved one than are the activities of affection. Thus unilateral honoring activities are no less important in the integrity of a loving person than are unilateral activities of affection.
Still an argument can be made that as unilateral activities there is a somewhat larger role for personal honoring activities than for activities of affection. The argument concerns the desire to confer the benefit of the lover's expression of the loved one's importance as a separate and numerically distinct person. E-qualities, like R-qualities, are in themselves the objects of impartial attitudes, as we have seen. But, for reasons already given, personal affection is not transferable across persons of similar qualities in the way that esteem is. Thus unilateral honoring activities serve to point out more specifically what it is about the loved one that makes the person worthy of honor as a separate and distinct person. These qualities are independent of the relationship to the lover, and conferring the benefit of such recognition on the loved one is as intrinsic to friendship as is the conferring of affection to romantic love. And in the case of both affection and honor, graciousness is central to the value of the activities from the agent's point of view.
Therefore, whether as welfare activities or as activities of recognition, personally benevolent solitary activities play a crucial and irreplaceable role in integrity on the thick conception. But what of impartially benevolent solitary activities?
It is of first importance to understand the sense in which these solitary activities are impartial and the sense in which they are not. They are not impartial in the sense that agent-neutral activities are. The reason for this is that the agent is dispositionally sensitive to beliefs regarding the identity of the agent of the activity. That is, if you engage in an activity of this sort, you are sensitive to the fact that it is you and not someone else doing it, but you are dispositionally indifferent to beliefs regarding the identity of the independent beneficiary of the activity, as long as the beneficiary falls under a certain description. It is in this latter sense that these activities are impartial. Some persons, for example, take delight in helping other persons who are in need apart from any thought that such assistance is obligatory. Mother Teresa seemed to be an excellent case in point. Crucial to her disposition toward those she served was the belief that they were needy. The belief that a person was significantly needy seemed sufficient to evoke her dedication, subject only to the limitations of time and energy. Yet Mother Teresa's attitude seemed to be that it was not only important that the needy receive help but that it was she who played a large role in helping them.
When such activities are truly impartial, personal affection plays no role in their value to the agent. My point here is not that Mother Teresa had no personal affection for those she helped. Rather, it is that insofar as she appreciated persons as in need of help and she valued her activities in this regard, personal affection was an external factor. To the extent that personal affection was not an external factor, her welfare activities on behalf of the needy were personally rather than impartially benevolent. This is because personal affection for another brings with it sensitivity to the identity of the object of affection. Thus unilateral activities of affection are not among impartially benevolent activities. We are left, then, with impartially benevolent welfare activities and impartial honoring activities of the unilateral sort.
For many people impartial welfare activities are a part of their profession or life's work, which they value intrinsically. Dedicated social workers, teachers, lawyers, physicians, and the like are all persons who find intrinsic value in helping others who are in some sense needy. There are, of course, those who enter these professions merely for the external rewards associated with them. This is especially true of those professions that carry with them access to great wealth or prestige. But these are not persons who are dedicated professionals or who are dedicated to their work, for to be dedicated in this context is to be dedicated to persons in need. A dedicated social worker is dedicated to those with welfare needs; a dedicated teacher, to students with a need to learn; a dedicated lawyer, to clients in need of legal remedy; and a dedicated physician, to those in need of medical attention. Yet in a very important sense, to be dedicated in this context is to be dedicated to helping with the needs of strangers.
That there are those who are dedicated to the needs of strangers in a way that renders their activities a ground project suitably called their life's work is certain. That there are those who could not find life worth living without such work is also certain. Thus there are those for whom the loss of their work as a ground project would be inconsolable. Also, it is doubtful that most of these people feel that their taking on such a project as their life's work is obligatory, though some of them might. Those who do not, see their activities as not only beneficial to the needy but also as intrinsically rewarding work that is not obligatory, which raises the issue of the role of the aesthetic in an account of these goods. When these nondeontic activities have categorical value to an agent, can their value be adequately understood in nonaesthetic terms? I will argue that they cannot.
It should not be overlooked in this regard that these activities are not agent-neutral activities. Rather, they are agent-centered goods that are not, for these persons, replaceable by impartial concerns as consoling interests, should these goods be lost to them. In fact, some of these agents simply could not survive in a world free of needy people. What does this say about the kind of value at stake for these agents?
One kind of person who might seem to fit the description is the person who excessively "needs to be needed." For some, being needed is at the center of their lives because they have a fragile sense of self. Often, such people are very possessive of those under their care, for without these needy dependents these people have no secure sense of their place in the world. In this sense, these people are more dependent on those in need than the needy are on them. Clearly, when the value of activities involving others is accounted for in this way, neither aesthetic nor moral value seems to be the most prominent.
There are others, however, for whom activities of the sort in question seem to be categorical without this kind of pathological dimension. Instead of being pathological in this sense, the vulnerability to the loss of these activities in their lives seems to reflect a curious blend of what we think are healthy values. On the one hand are the values of respect and sympathy for others, and on the other is finding working with people interesting, fascinating; and captivating, even challenging. To reduce the value of these activities to the social values of respect and sympathy is to distort them, as is to reduce their value to the fascination they bring to the agent.
A certain (mistaken) way of reading Nietzsche derides any notion of "service to humanity." Students sometimes take this tack, espousing the belief that most of humanity is simply contemptible and unworthy of being helped or "served." Failure to recognize this is, on their view, a failure of both judgment and character. Of course, if they are right that strangers are worthy only of contempt, then it does seem rather perverse of people to dedicate their life's work to them. But surely it would be odd that only members of one's communal circle were minimally respectable or estimable in a way that allows sympathy for their needs. These beliefs about the R-qualities and E-qualities of strangers that smother sympathetic response are often just false. The failure to see that they are false is brought about by the absence of the dispositions of respect and esteem in the first place. Since a communal being does have these dispositions and is capable of recognizing the R-qualities and E-qualities of others, the false beliefs are probably not attributable to communal commitments. Rather, they are likely attributable to dispositions that are antithetical not only to impartial sympathy but to communal love as well. After all, it is one thing to be indifferent to strangers about whom one knows nothing; it is another to be averse to helping them because they are held in contempt. To do the latter, one has to know something about them and that something must reveal that they are beneath sympathy. But to be unsympathetic in general to the plight of strangers and to find burdensome all activities intended to benefit them is decidedly not required by empirical evidence. This is especially true of a communal being who is a person of integrity. For this is someone who realizes the importance of being considered a separate and distinct person whose sense of self-worth should be considered on the evidence of character. So it is easy enough to see why a respectful and sympathetic person would take an interest in activities that benefit respectable but needy people.
It is, however, one thing to take an interest in these activities and to pursue them and quite another to find the activities interesting, fascinating, captivating, and intrinsically challenging. For most people who have these activities as a central part of their life's work, this aesthetic dimension is almost always a central part of their value. Were it utterly dull and uninteresting to do this work, it is entirely implausible that the activities could play the role they do within the person's psychology. To be sure, finding it fascinating and interesting to help others is to care about others, but there is an aesthetic dimension to this caring that is lost if we are not careful to pay attention to the fact that these are nondeontic activities. Overly moralized conceptual schemes ride roughshod over these phenomenological distinctions. That they do leads to distortions of practical reason, as we will see. For now, we need to note the difference between taking delight in the fact that the needy have their needs met and taking delight in the activities of meeting these needs. Though delight of the second sort expresses respect and sympathy for others, it also reveals another dimension of value, one that is aesthetic. It says something about the kind of aesthetic experience for which people of a certain character have the capacity.
It is easy enough to see that the activity involved in solving a mathematical problem could have an aesthetic dimension independent of its payoff. In fact, those who are incapable of finding mathematics alluring in this sense tend to dread math. But mathematicians—those whose life's work is very much centered on doing math—tend to be those people who experience the aesthetic allure of mathematics. Not only do they find it interesting and fascinating; they are captivated by it. I am claiming that the same thing is true of many of those who make working with the needy the center of their life's work. Thus a full understanding of the value of such work includes both a social and an aesthetic dimension. For people of this sort, their capacity for boredom is underwritten both by their impartial social capacities and by their aesthetic capacities for finding their social work interesting, fascinating, and captivating.
Of course, not all people organize their lives around these kinds of work activities, but the structural significance of a general lack of aesthetic delight in unilateral welfare activities for strangers is gauged by what is both present and absent in the lives of those who are characterized as lacking it. In a world like ours, much of life is spent dealing with strangers. If it were largely spent with contemptible strangers, this would itself be a serious threat to a healthy integration of personality. Of course, this does not mean that one can fabricate beliefs about the character of others in order to survive. But it does mean that those with integrity are disposed to maintain some hope for the intrinsic value in others, rather than to extinguish it by some general belief about strangers. On the other hand, a general resentment of strangers reveals a disposition aversive to the elements of integrity in others. To be filled with such resentment is an evil to be avoided, and if of sufficient magnitude it can be a categorical evil. So much then for what will be present for the person who has a general attitude of contempt toward strangers to a degree to smother all sympathy for them.
Absent will be a sense of graciousness toward strangers. This is a great loss measured by the resentment that rushes to fill the void. Not all of us feel the call to dedicate our work to the needs of strangers. But it is hard to imagine someone with communal sensibilities who would not also find the complete loss of graciousness to strangers affective of his or her identifying thoughts. Indeed, it seems more plausible that the resentment is a response to a loss than that the value of graciousness is the remedy for resentment. If this is true, then impartial welfare activities of the sort in question are intrinsic human goods structurally crucial to the integrity of any fully developed social being. This is true because severe resentment of strangers is not only a form of alienation from others but also a form of self-alienation for a social being.
Nowhere is this alienation more evident than where impartial honoring activities are viewed with resentment. When a person resents rather than takes delight, both aesthetic and moral, in the legitimate accomplishments of others, there is deep self-alienation as well as alienation from others. A person of integrity in the thick sense is not given to such resentment. The reason is not that the person of integrity is indifferent to the E-qualities of strangers. Rather, it is because the person of integrity in the thick sense is very sensitive to such qualities and takes delight in them. It is only the person with a strong sense of self coupled with a positive disposition toward others who can experience such delight. Those burdened with resentment in these matters lack a very important human good, perhaps one that cannot be replaced by any other. To lack the capacity for graciousness in this regard, then, is to lack a capacity that not only wards off resentment but boredom as well.