The Pluralist Heart

“Purity of heart is to will one thing,” Kierkegaard famously proclaimed. He was right about purity but wrong to aspire to it. It is a common mistake, made all the more familiar to ordinary people because it is a quality that heroes and fanatics, the characters who spice religious liturgies, history books, novels, poetry, and Netflix often share. Even Dante, no stranger to the complications of life and character, endorses it: “One object, and one object only, is rightly to be loved  ‘with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength.’” Purity is simplifying, and it is romantic, and in an existence as relentlessly variegated as ours it promises a great relief.   And so it is tempting to structure one’s life around a single, dominating idea or community, to be fanatically, singularly loyal. But like some of the most irresistible temptations, this one is false.

Thank you for reading!

To continue reading this article you must be a subscriber and be logged in to this site. If you already have a subscription, please log in now.