Acknowledging the Wisdom of Limits

Like it or not, we face a growing number of challenges that present inviolable limits, constraints that we cannot transcend no matter how intelligent or wise we might be. Some such limits concern inescapable physical realties—for example, limits to energy resources and limits to how much of the effluvium of civilization the planet can absorb. But many are as much about ourselves. Certainly we face inescapable limits with regard to the usefulness of many past ways of understanding and acting. We also face more general limits with regard to our human capabilities, for example, to what we can afford, to what one person (whether a leader or a lover) can be for another, to what we can ultimately control. In the end, we face inescapable limits to understanding itself, certainly to knowing things as absolutely as we might have hoped to in times past. The theme of limits is about inescapability most generally, at all its multiple levels.