Antiwholesale

Some thinkers are exciting to disagree with, not only despite how exasperating they are, but maybe because of it. I have whiplash from alternating nodding and head-shaking, reading Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country. Marginalia from the last three pages: “yes” “yes” “No!” “??!” “Fuck no!” “Illiberal” “Yeeesh.” “Creepy!” “YES!!!”

The older I get, and the firmer, more specific and more nuanced I become in my moral attitudes the less I find myself able to agree completely with any other individual. I take my agreements where I can get them, and I refuse to ignore differences — big, small, shallow or profound — for the sake of preserving a sense of total agreement or total disagreement.

The principled abstinence from wholesale acceptance or rejection of anything has become one of my firmest moral attitudes. I suppose I see this as a virtue and I am proud of it. I need a name for this virtue.

Any explicit concept or implicit attitude that looks to me like a device for wholesaling (positive or negative) will trigger a suspicion of intellectual immaturity, degradation or dementia, and I actually feel sympathetic shame for people who seem to need such things.

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