Charity vs Modesty

Sometimes we encounter conflicts in our values. One value suggests one course of action, and another that is equally valid suggests something conflicting.

Two of my most basic philosophical values are an affirmative or generous view of life in general, and a Socratic modesty about knowledge claims. I especially admire the way Aristotle succeeds in combining the two. In contrast to Plato, he puts more value on concrete life and manifestation, and has more hope that experience will be intelligible, but he still remains faithful to Plato’s Socratic modesty about knowledge.

Hegel like Aristotle puts a high value on manifestation. But he thinks part of this ought to be reflected in a relatively charitable attitude toward knowledge claims, especially those arising in ordinary life. There is an implicit tension between charity toward such claims and modesty about them. Sometimes I want to defend Kant’s greater modesty about knowledge from Hegel’s criticism. (See also Socratic Wisdom; The Epistemic Modesty of Plato and Aristotle; Epistemic Conscientiousness; Interpretive Charity; Affirmation.)