Responding to Wendell Berry's “Nothing Living Lives Alone”
Blog Watch: "Wendell Berry Applies 'Conservative' Classical Christian Humanism to the Economy"

Blog Watch: On Wendell Berry's Affection

The progression of affection-as-motive, then, is this: I live in a place.  I have, then, commitments to this locality.  This locality and my commitments/debt to it provide guidance to me.  The locality comprises both the human community and the natural system—that is, Nature.  To be guided, even in part, by a debt to the non-human, to Nature, is a realization and articulation of human limits.  This guidance that shows me my debts and my limits is affection.  It is always particular—to both the locality and, in increasingly small subdivisions, every community within the locality, down to the individual.  It is determined, at least in non-negligible part, by particular, individual experience.

So far, so good.  In a world without conflicts, this affection would suffice.  But if affection is particular, my affection can come into conflict with my neighbor’s.  This, I suppose, is easy enough to resolve through an appeal to communal experience as a means of determining a compromise or proper, affective, choice.  (One of us, after all, might have accidentally veered into a short-sighted affection that Berry acknowledges.)  Such a conflict could, that is, be resolved by recourse to affection itself.



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