Can we be right in viewing ourselves -- our lives, our decisions, our contributions to social issues -- as important, if that means important, period, not just important *to* someone?
I mean, I'd feel meaningless if what mattered to me mattered only to me, or to any particular people...but is there a sensible way to view ourselves as important, with a capital 'I', to no-one in particular?
Alex is suggesting that unless something is “important, period,” nothing can be important at all in a way that gives meaning to human lives. We might understand Alex’s argument for this conclusion as a kind of reductio of my suggestion that I could be reasonably satisfied with the meaning of my life if I were important to things that I cared about, things that I believed were themselves of value and importance. If, as Alex adds, the value of those to whom I am important depends on their importance to something else of value, then unless something ’s value is a matter of its “importance, period,” my life’s meaning never gets grounded: the value of my life depends on my importance to Xs who are valuable because they are important to Ys who are valuable because they are important to Zs, and so on ad infinitum . However, this regress goes on ad infinitum only if it can never turn back on itself. Certainly, I wouldn’t think that my life had much meaning if I were important only to...
I think that it’s very difficult to make sense of the idea that I amimportant, period. It used to bother me that I couldn’t make sense ofthis idea, but now I’m perfectly content with the idea that I’mimportant to those I care about, or that I make an importantcontribution to projects that I care about. I’d like to think thatthese people and projects are themselves important, and I think thatthey are, but only because they are important to themselves or toothers– that is, genuinely important to themselves or to others, not just thought by me (or others) to be important in these ways.