Jeffrey Golub Presents "Overextending Ourselves: On the Bounds of Moral Indifference & Thinking the Less Interesting Thought" 10/23/2023

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Golub delivered the paper "Overextending Ourselves: On the Bounds of Moral Indifference and Thinking the Less Interesting Thought" as part of the Fall 2023 CU Denver Philosophy Department Speaker Series on October 23, 2023.

Abstract: This paper examines the phenomenology of extension—a cognitive-emotional act of reflection in which I ‘extend’ the boundaries of my moral recognition to include something to which I had formally been indifferent. The locus classicus for the idea of extension is the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius, specifically in the context of his project of moral self-cultivation. This paper offers a broader interpretation. I argue that because extension is an immanent structure of consciousness, it is as much a question of finding meaning in the world as it is a technique for personal moral development. In a way, if one fails to “extend” oneself, then one quite literally fails to see the world. I claim that when we under-extend ourselves in moral indifference, we restrict the kinds of thoughts we can have. My attempt is to urge over-extended thoughts, then, in my interpretation of the otherwise innocuous example that Mencius uses: the meat of an animal.