Ethical reason can potentially comprehend anything and it can influence things going forward, but it does not make everything or govern events. (See also Fragility of the Good.) Understanding comes late. Reason becomes free or autonomous only by a long, slow process. (See also Iterative Questioning.) Even so-called absolute knowledge — only “absolute” because it is free of the actually self-disruptive presumptions of the false freedom of Mastery — is just this freedom of reason.

There is after all a kind of negative freedom of reason at work here, but it is forever incomplete, and also has nothing to do with any negative freedom of a power, which is a fiction. We negatively free ourselves of unthinking assumptions while positively increasing our ability to make fine distinctions, our sensitivity to subtlety and nuance. This gives us new positive freedom in doing, with our still-finite power. (See also Ethical Reason, Interpretation.)

Things Said

Saying is a specialized form of doing. When saying and doing are contrasted, what is asserted is a contrast between kinds of doing that have different implications. Proprieties of both saying and doing are matter for material inference.

Implicit consideration of a material-inferential ethical dimension is what distinguishes canonical Aristotelian saying from the mere emission of words. This dimension of ethics of material inference gives more specific content to epistemic conscientiousness.

Saying is also a social act that occurs in a larger social context. This gives it a second ethical dimension, starting from consideration of others and situational appropriateness. (See also Interpretive Charity; Honesty, Kindness; Intellectual Virtue, Love; Mutual Recognition.)