Monthly Archives: August 2013

Worries About Sagely “Imagination” and Regret

I’ve been returning to Steve Angle’s fantastic book Sagehood recently, especially focusing on the parts in which he discusses the problem of moral remainder and his (Neo-Confucian) notion of sagehood.  Steve takes “imagination” to be a key solution to this problem, arguing that the sage’s imagination allows him or her to envision alternative ways a supposed dilemma might be solved so as to escape “unscathed” morally.  Alternatively, the sage is able through prior imagination to avoid (as much as possible) situations in which there are genuine and inescapable moral dilemmas that necessarily result in moral remainder.

Although I think Steve is certainly right about the Neo-Confucian view and the response that rests on the notion of imagination, I am less sure that sagely imagination will actually resolve the difficulty.  This is connected to another worry I have about the issue of sagely regret (or the lack thereof, according to Steve’s reading).  I call these ‘worries’ rather than ‘objections’ because I think that what Steve says about sagely imagination is right for the most part–I just worry about the elimination of regret from the sage’s inner life.

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