Is the Love of Truth Incompatible with Living Comfortably?

Emerson says yes: 

image.jpg

I'm not so sure...I mean, I suppose it depends on how practically demanding you think the love of truth is. And what standards you have for "living comfortably." Let's get a bit more precise:

  •  Incompatibility: regularly fulfilling one's epistemic duty in the course of everyday life is not compatible with living the sort of healthy, well-balanced life that is often held up as ideal in our culture

Is Incompatibility  true? Emerson's suggestion seems to be something like this: the well-balanced life presupposes stable beliefs or sets of beliefs in things like religion, political positions, moral issues, etc. One cannot examine one's worldview too deeply, lest the foundations of that worldview start to crumble and demand time and effort be put into arriving at more accurate (and more nuanced) views.

I'm sympathetic to this claim. I mean, I think we're often to complacent when it comes to the foundations of our views. I think one of the great benefits of living in a culture that is both strongly pluralistic, and as technologically connected as ours is that such complacency is actually much harder to maintain. When you used to have to travel halfway across the world to encounter someone who believed in a different God (or rely on the caricatures of those who had), it was easier to do one's due diligence and arrive at the reasonable conclusion that one's inherited views more or less got it right. Today, we can't even log in to Facebook without being confronted with a barrage of alternative views. Though these views usually aren't the paradigm of reasonability and well-reasoned argument, the sheer variety we're faced with tips us off to the fact (or perhaps makes it the case) that a good deal of intellectual investigation will be required in order for one to have done one's epistemic duty with respect to even very basic religious, political, and moral beliefs.

In any event, this issue was first presented to me (in a slightly different guise) by Peter Finocchiaro -- a friend and fellow PhD student -- and he's currently working on a post or two that attempts to answer the question I've hinted at here within the context of professional philosophy (as in: he's examining an incompatibility thesis like the one above with respect to one's duties as a professional philosopher and educator). I'd like to use those posts as a springboard to examine the question in other contexts as well. We'll see if I get to it. I might just want to go repose someplace and turn my brain off for a while.