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Knowing how to live authentically

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  • jimstuart46
    Trinidad (#42086): The arguments are not about superior morals or ethics, just more robust and vibrant humans. Trinidad (#42104): Perhaps the only vanity
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 2, 2007
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      Trinidad (#42086): The arguments are not about superior morals or
      ethics, just more robust and vibrant humans.

      Trinidad (#42104): Perhaps the only vanity greater than thinking
      love is something to be understood, is thinking that love is
      something that can be learned. Love defies intellectual analysis,
      and there really is no way to teach anyone how to love. It is even
      only vanity to believe that you can teach yourself how to love. It
      is not something learned, though most ordinary people can do it.
      Love is not involved with choice at all in any direct way.

      Trinidad (#42104): Live to unhurt someone, not to get hurt, or hurt.

      Johannes Climacus (Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Hong, p. 88):
      Even in his seventieth year, [Socrates] was not finished with his
      striving to practice even more inwardly what every sixteen-year-old
      girl knows.

      [End of quotes]

      Trinidad and Johannes Climacus seem to agree on this: an individual
      doesn't have to study philosophy in order to learn how to live
      well. "Ordinary people", "every sixteen-year-old girl" already know
      that loving is better than hating, that being honest is better than
      being dishonest, that acting justly is better than acting unjustly.
      In other words, ordinary people – without years of philosophical
      study – know how to live a good life.

      The difference between the "robust and vibrant" human being and the
      inauthentic individual is that the former puts into practice what
      she knows, whilst the latter does not. So it is not knowledge which
      the inauthentic individual lacks, rather it is courage – the courage
      to act on his ethical convictions.

      Existentialism is not a body of knowledge, which the individual must
      learn in order to exist authentically. Existentialism is a
      communication which tells us what we already know: to live
      authentically we must act on what we already know, and take full
      responsibility for our choices and actions.

      Jim
    • Aija Veldre Beldavs
      ... overall i agree. but many in fact, are stunted or poisoned by war etc., unhealthy to children. also, there have been cultures like ancient Sparta that
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 3, 2007
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        jimstuart46:
        >
        > Trinidad and Johannes Climacus seem to agree on this: an individual
        > doesn't have to study philosophy in order to learn how to live
        > well. "Ordinary people", "every sixteen-year-old girl" already know
        > that loving is better than hating, that being honest is better than
        > being dishonest, that acting justly is better than acting unjustly.
        > In other words, ordinary people – without years of philosophical
        > study – know how to live a good life.
        >

        overall i agree.
        but many in fact, are stunted or poisoned by war etc., unhealthy to
        children.
        also, there have been cultures like ancient Sparta that practiced
        eugenics and exposed children to harsh environments to create warrior
        slave-holding states, which not everyone finds acceptable. ditto for
        cultures that approach defining gender relations (and have to some
        degree domesticated themselves) in terms of predator (say shark) and
        prey (whoever gets in the way or has something the predator wants). i
        doubt any of these types of cultures survive long over generations in
        pure form, especially if a child or adolescent lacks someone who also
        shows some degree of caring. luckily for the sake of survival of the
        society as a whole, everyone does not react to the norms or conditions
        of their society exactly in the same way. diversity does provide some
        checks and balances.

        a model which divides humans into prey and predators is in fact
        practicing cannibalism. even strong forms of clan organization are not
        self sufficient, and of course genes cross over even in strictly
        regulated societies, so that this model is also an oversimplified myth.
        humankind has evolved so that a sufficient number of people don't want
        to reduce themselves to a definition of either prey or predator.

        sufficient numbers would agree today with mental health practitioners
        that those who feel alive only through power-trips that hurts themselves
        or others (are "a significant danger to themselves or others") should be
        isolated, restricted, and given healing treatment until they can safely
        return to mainstream society. sure, i know the response: how
        bourgeoisie, or how naive. :)
        > The difference between the "robust and vibrant" human being and the
        > inauthentic individual is that the former puts into practice what
        > she knows, whilst the latter does not. So it is not knowledge which
        > the inauthentic individual lacks, rather it is courage – the courage
        > to act on his ethical convictions.
        >
        > Existentialism is not a body of knowledge, which the individual must
        > learn in order to exist authentically. Existentialism is a
        > communication which tells us what we already know: to live
        > authentically we must act on what we already know, and take full
        > responsibility for our choices and actions. Jim
        >
        >

        yes. this article that i recently shared in another listserv's
        discussion, explores definitions and dilemmas of courage in
        straightforward language:
        Rate, C. R., Clarke, J. A., Lindsay, D. R., Sternberg, R. J. (2007).
        Implicit theories of courage. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(2),
        80-98.
        http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/08/what-is-courage.php

        aija
      • jimstuart46
        Aija, Thank you for your helpful response and constructive criticism. Sparta? Predator and prey behaviour? Those stunted and poisoned by war, etc.? Yes, a
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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          Aija,

          Thank you for your helpful response and constructive criticism.

          Sparta? Predator and prey behaviour? Those stunted and poisoned by
          war, etc.?

          Yes, a minority of individuals reach adulthood without developing the
          capability to love others. This may be the result of a genetic
          abnormality or an inadequate upbringing (e.g. a war environment,
          abusive parents, etc.). Just as some individuals may develop without
          the proper human emotions and mental well-being, so occasionally whole
          societies may go wrong. But my claim is that most individuals, most
          societies, develop with the potential for humane behaviour.

          Evolution has been kind to the human species in that most mothers (and
          many fathers too) have a disposition to love their children. This
          contingent fact is, I suggest, the grounding for the truth of what
          Trinidad and Johannes Climacus claim: that most human beings reach
          adulthood with the capability to act decently and love others. We have
          this capability because we were loved first – usually by our mothers,
          often by our fathers or other carers.

          Once we reach adulthood with the capability of loving others, it is
          then down to us. Do we have the courage, the resolution and the
          commitment to actually love others in our turn?

          Jim
        • Aija Veldre Beldavs
          ... i would state this even more radically - striving to not give up on any case, but this takes some humanistic social engineering or restructuring of
          Message 4 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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            jimstuart46:
            > But my claim is that most individuals, most societies, develop with the potential for humane behaviour.

            i would state this even more radically -
            striving to not give up on any case, but this takes some humanistic
            social engineering or restructuring of society, rather than heroic
            individualism.

            even individuals who are born with genetic defects, under optimum
            childhood environment have a much better chance to learn to be
            contributing to society, rather than destructive or a burden, if they
            have xtra support, training, and realistic recognition of limits.
            (ironically, some "primitive" societies may have done comparatively
            better in humanely integrating their mentally ill by assigning a
            tolerant special category that reduces fear and aggression all around).

            any society if it is to survive is living, dynamic, adaptive, and so
            changes as needed. although whole societies do indeed go wrong, become
            insane, or dysfunctional, this is not a necessary predeterminer of their
            future. even within a society gone wrong, there are individuals who
            offer alternatives, and when the time is right, they will be listened
            to. also there is a collective evolving accumulation of experience as a
            resource, and mechanisms that can be described as self-correcting.

            years back i was very impressed what was being done to improve the
            chances for autistic children while doing a student short term grant
            job for about 8 months at an autism research institute here at IU.
            however, after training, ongoing support is needed generally for life.
            i also was very impressed by a lecture given by Dr. Temple Grandin.
            growing up and having the proper support, she used what she had within
            her - thinking in picutures and other sense-scapes as a way to figure
            out how to respond verbally in a socially proper way. it's a skill
            most people take for granted as natural, rather than indirectly
            acquired. the genetic defect, born lacking empathy, may be offset by
            behavior training in childhood to predispose to socially acceptable
            behavior, "rewiring" of the brain, and being surrounded by models of
            acceptable behavior in adolescence, responsive to special needs.

            aija
          • jimstuart46
            Aija, I agree with everything you say – I share you optimism that disadvantaged individuals and dysfunctional societies can respond positively to the efforts
            Message 5 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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              Aija,

              I agree with everything you say – I share you optimism that
              disadvantaged individuals and dysfunctional societies can respond
              positively to the efforts of single individuals, small groups or
              collective mass movements.

              I agree that "humanistic social engineering or restructuring of
              society" is more effective than "heroic individualism." But in the
              absence of humanistic social engineering or restructuring of society,
              heroic individualism is the only game in town. In other words, heroic
              individualism is better than nothing, but humanistic social
              engineering or restructuring of society is best of all.

              But, of course, humanistic social engineering or restructuring of
              society only takes place when lots of single individuals make resolute
              commitments to work hard for the good of all.

              Jim
            • eupraxis@aol.com
              Jim, How would such social engineering look? Is this a social-democratic model or a kind of public works approach, etc.? Would it be governmental-legalistic?
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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                Jim,

                How would such social engineering look? Is this a social-democratic model or a kind of public works approach, etc.? Would it be governmental-legalistic? Or a kind of voluntarism; or authoritarian?

                Wil







                -----Original Message-----
                From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
                To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 11:52 am
                Subject: [existlist] Re: Knowing how to live authentically

























                Aija,



                I agree with everything you say – I share you optimism that

                disadvantaged individuals and dysfunctional societies can respond

                positively to the efforts of single individuals, small groups or

                collective mass movements.



                I agree that "humanistic social engineering or restructuring of

                society" is more effective than "heroic individualism." But in the

                absence of humanistic social engineering or restructuring of society,

                heroic individualism is the only game in town. In other words, heroic

                individualism is better than nothing, but humanistic social

                engineering or restructuring of society is best of all.



                But, of course, humanistic social engineering or restructuring of

                society only takes place when lots of single individuals make resolute

                commitments to work hard for the good of all.



                Jim





















                ________________________________________________________________________
                Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • jimstuart46
                Wil, Bill, The expression humanistic social engineering or restructuring of society is Aija s, so really you are better asking her what she means by it. I am
                Message 7 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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                  Wil, Bill,

                  The expression "humanistic social engineering or restructuring of
                  society" is Aija's, so really you are better asking her what she
                  means by it.

                  I am not really very interested in politics – I prefer to think about
                  philosophical matters.

                  Politically I am a member of the Green Party here in the UK. The
                  party stands against the destruction of the planet and in favour of a
                  version of self-sustaining socialism.

                  I am also a member of Amnesty International which campaigns against
                  torture and the imprisonment of people purely because of their
                  beliefs.

                  I am also a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which,
                  surprise, surprise, campaigns for a world without any nuclear weapons.

                  In terms of US politics, if I had been a citizen of your country in
                  recent years, I would have voted for Ralph Nader in your presidential
                  elections. But then again, didn't his votes in 2000 let Bush in, and
                  cause all the current strife in the world?

                  Now can you stop asking me about politics, and can I get back to
                  existentialism?

                  I started this thread with some remarks about the Existentialist
                  ideas of Trinidad and Johannes Climacus. In the later posts in this
                  thread I was basically arguing for the existentialist idea that
                  radical change for the individual and for society is possible. I read
                  existentialism as a philosophy of radical freedom. Each of us has the
                  freedom to remake himself or herself in almost any way. Collectively
                  the members of a society are free to remake their society in any way.
                  Am I being naïve here? Am I being faithful to present-day
                  existentialism here, or am I stuck in the 1950's?

                  Jim
                • eupraxis@aol.com
                  Jim, Your associations sound great to me. We probably share a lot in that regard. Wil ... From: jimstuart46 To:
                  Message 8 of 8 , Sep 4, 2007
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                    Jim,

                    Your associations sound great to me. We probably share a lot in that regard.

                    Wil







                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
                    To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 3:40 pm
                    Subject: [existlist] Re: Knowing how to live authentically

























                    Wil, Bill,



                    The expression "humanistic social engineering or restructuring of

                    society" is Aija's, so really you are better asking her what she

                    means by it.



                    I am not really very interested in politics – I prefer to think about

                    philosophical matters.



                    Politically I am a member of the Green Party here in the UK. The

                    party stands against the destruction of the planet and in favour of a

                    version of self-sustaining socialism.



                    I am also a member of Amnesty International which campaigns against

                    torture and the imprisonment of people purely because of their

                    beliefs.



                    I am also a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which,

                    surprise, surprise, campaigns for a world without any nuclear weapons.



                    In terms of US politics, if I had been a citizen of your country in

                    recent years, I would have voted for Ralph Nader in your presidential

                    elections. But then again, didn't his votes in 2000 let Bush in, and

                    cause all the current strife in the world?



                    Now can you stop asking me about politics, and can I get back to

                    existentialism?



                    I started this thread with some remarks about the Existentialist

                    ideas of Trinidad and Johannes Climacus. In the later posts in this

                    thread I was basically arguing for the existentialist idea that

                    radical change for the individual and for society is possible. I read

                    existentialism as a philosophy of radical freedom. Each of us has the

                    freedom to remake himself or herself in almost any way. Collectively

                    the members of a society are free to remake their society in any way.

                    Am I being naïve here? Am I being faithful to present-day

                    existentialism here, or am I stuck in the 1950's?



                    Jim





















                    ________________________________________________________________________
                    Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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