Dale S. Wright

‘There is nothing incoherent about committing yourself to ideals that you understand to have evolved out of particular historical contexts and that in principle you understand to be both mutable and transcendable. Recognizing the “emptiness” of ideals does not require abandoning them. Instead, that recognition simply commits you to understanding them, to evaluating them critically, to coming to terms with their backgrounds and future prospects. It is a mistake to believe that contingent, historical values are not really valuable on account of their contingency and historicity. One philosophical mistake of this kind is called the “genetic fallacy,” the common assumption that the value of something is based solely on its origins. But the fact that something comes into being through particular circumstances, all contingent, does not in any sense undermine its value. Indeed, there are no alternatives to this form or origination. Everything that exists arises out of dependent circumstances, and everything is for that reason open to reformation.’ (The Six Perfections)

I think in my student group we might be turning back to this book again next; certainly, its wisdom on wisdom, and the other paramitas, is always worth dipping into again. There is nothing more valuable than that which is empty, as I wrote in a note on this passage. How is it to look at the war in Ukraine through this lens?

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