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Re: [existlist] Re: Das last man

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  • eupraxis@aol.com
    Jim: I disagree with your attitude towards diversity on this forum. You seem to want contributors to restrict there contributions to a more narrow agenda. You
    Message 1 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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      Jim: I disagree with your attitude towards diversity on this
      forum. You seem to want contributors to restrict there contributions to a more
      narrow agenda. You want a sort of existentialist "political
      correctness" where views which don't respect the idea of "the

      problematized self" or a critical attitude to society are to be
      discouraged on the forum. You want contributors to have faced their personal
      "dark night of the soul".



       



      Answer: I wasn't thinking of you, actually, but you are
      correct that "shiny happy people existentialism" is not
      existentialism. If that describes you, I am sorry for that, but I am confident
      of my position vis-a-vis the literature, which goes by the ascription of
      "existentialist" and which has everything to do with the mode of
      thought called the same.



       



      What you mean by "political correctness" eludes
      me. What politics would you like espouse that you feel is too politically
      incorrect, as far as I or anyone else goes? Gulags, extraordinary renditions,
      waterboarding? Doesn't sound like you. Or are you saying that it is all-too
      "political correct" to mention the 'dark night of the soul', rather
      than champion some Prosac inspired crap about how a day with a big utilitarian smile
      is like a day without sunshine?



       


      Wil






      -----Original Message-----
      From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 3:30 pm
      Subject: [existlist] Re: Das last man

























      Wil,



      You seem to require two character traits of the genuine

      existentialist:



      "Heidegger was a reactionary; Nietzsche, an a-political elitist;

      Kierkegaard, an evangelical of sorts, etc. Yet every one of them was

      critical of his time and suspicious of any self-satisfied notion of

      the Self."



      True existentialists don't subscribe to "feel good ideologies"

      or "flat cognitive/analytic notions of self". Further, true

      existentialists "have faced the dark night of the soul".



      I agree with the sentiments you express here, although I do wonder if

      I am supposed to be one of your targets in your posts. Perhaps you

      think of me as one of those who talks about freedom, being and

      choice, but not in a sufficiently critical manner to count as a

      genuine existentialist.



      I feel that by your criteria I ought to count as a genuine

      existentialist as I hold to Kierkegaard's account of the self, and to

      the political outlook of Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. But I am not

      concerned to justify my existentialist credentials here.



      I agree with one aspect of what you are saying, and disagree with

      another aspect.



      I agree with you that an attitude of complacency and self-

      satisfaction does not sit well with existentialism. An existentialist

      confronts uncomfortable truths, and has a distrustful attitude both

      towards himself (being wary of self-deception) and towards his

      society (being wary of rulers and those hungry for power).



      I disagree with your attitude towards diversity on this forum. You

      seem to want contributors to restrict there contributions to a more

      narrow agenda. You want a sort of existentialist "political

      correctness" where views which don't respect the idea of "the

      problematized self" or a critical attitude to society are to be

      discouraged on the forum. You want contributors to have faced their

      personal "dark night of the soul".



      Like you, I do get frustrated sometimes by posts which seem to have

      no connection to existentialism, or are flippant or shallow, or

      consist solely of platitudes, but I also like the diversity of views

      and outlooks exhibited on the forum.



      In particular, I enjoy reading the contributions of the regular

      contributors like yourself, Louise, Bill, Hb3g, Knott and Aija, who

      all manifest very different life experiences and ethical and

      philosophical outlooks. To use Kierekgaard's expression, you are

      all "single individuals" who have thought things through for

      yourselves, and are not afraid to say what you think and take the

      flak.



      Yes, not everyone has completely kosher existentialist credentials,

      but as long as the individuals have thought seriously about what they

      are saying, and they write with an attitude of respect for others,

      that is fine by me.



      Jim





















      ________________________________________________________________________
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    • jimstuart46
      Wil: I wasn t thinking of you, actually, but you are correct that shiny happy people existentialism is not existentialism. If that describes you, I am sorry
      Message 2 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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        Wil: I wasn't thinking of you, actually, but you are correct
        that "shiny happy people existentialism" is not existentialism. If
        that describes you, I am sorry for that, but I am confident of my
        position vis-a-vis the literature, which goes by the ascription
        of "existentialist" and which has everything to do with the mode of
        thought called the same.

        Jim: No, I would not describe myself as a "shiny happy person", and
        I am not disagreeing with your interpretation of the existentialist
        literature.

        My own philosophical outlook is closest to Kierkegaard's but without
        the theism. This is a pessimistic outlook.

        Wil: What you mean by "political correctness" eludes me. What
        politics would you like espouse that you feel is too politically
        incorrect, as far as I or anyone else goes? Gulags, extraordinary
        renditions, waterboarding? Doesn't sound like you. Or are you saying
        that it is all-too "political correct" to mention the 'dark night of
        the soul', rather than champion some Prosac inspired crap about how
        a day with a big utilitarian smile is like a day without sunshine?

        Jim: No, my point was that you seemed to be advocating a version of
        political correctness which disallowed (or, at least, discouraged)
        non-existentialist or anti-existentialist viewpoints. My alternative
        was to allow the full range of views, as even the anti-
        existentialist post can be the catalyst for a good discussion.

        Jim
      • eupraxis@aol.com
        Okay. To be perhaps even more infuriating, though...I am not a pessimist either, at least in the long view. I agree with Kant and Hegel and Nietzsche, each in
        Message 3 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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          Okay.

          To be perhaps even more infuriating, though...I am not a pessimist either, at least in the long view. I agree with Kant and Hegel and Nietzsche, each in their own way, that reason or rationality or just good sense may actually prevail.



          WS




          -----Original Message-----
          From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
          To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 5:23 pm
          Subject: [existlist] Re: Das last man

























          Wil: I wasn't thinking of you, actually, but you are correct

          that "shiny happy people existentialism" is not existentialism. If

          that describes you, I am sorry for that, but I am confident of my

          position vis-a-vis the literature, which goes by the ascription

          of "existentialist" and which has everything to do with the mode of

          thought called the same.



          Jim: No, I would not describe myself as a "shiny happy person", and

          I am not disagreeing with your interpretation of the existentialist

          literature.



          My own philosophical outlook is closest to Kierkegaard's but without

          the theism. This is a pessimistic outlook.



          Wil: What you mean by "political correctness" eludes me. What

          politics would you like espouse that you feel is too politically

          incorrect, as far as I or anyone else goes? Gulags, extraordinary

          renditions, waterboarding? Doesn't sound like you. Or are you saying

          that it is all-too "political correct" to mention the 'dark night of

          the soul', rather than champion some Prosac inspired crap about how

          a day with a big utilitarian smile is like a day without sunshine?



          Jim: No, my point was that you seemed to be advocating a version of

          political correctness which disallowed (or, at least, discouraged)

          non-existentialist or anti-existentialist viewpoints. My alternative

          was to allow the full range of views, as even the anti-

          existentialist post can be the catalyst for a good discussion.



          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]
        • Exist List Moderator
          ... I m wondering, beyond the New Age obscurisms and religion, what ideologies promise one a feel good solution in today s world? In fact, I would argue that
          Message 4 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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            On Nov 01, 2007, at 7:41, eupraxis@... wrote:

            > "self" that have spawned in the wake of our regime of short
            > attention spans and
            > "feel good" ideologies. So much the worse for us.

            I'm wondering, beyond the New Age obscurisms and religion, what
            ideologies promise one a "feel good" solution in today's world? In
            fact, I would argue that most of the humanities are littered with
            victimology, guilt, and a generally low regard for most (curiously)
            humans.

            Then again, I was based in the notoriously pessimistic Department of
            Rhetoric and now deal with Communications Studies part of the time.
            Read enough communications research, or even too many issues of MIND,
            and you realize people make decisions emotionally, instinctively, or
            through some other process and then rationalize the choice. You're
            left wondering how many people at least try to pause and analyze
            choices -- or analyze after the fact.

            We seem to be conditioned by fear and dread. Probably, this was a
            survival issue. The human most afraid was more likely to be cautious
            and survive. Now, that fear instinct is regularly manipulated by
            political parties ("Do you want to be bombed?" "Your Social Security
            will be cut!" "Terrorists want candidate X to win!" "Children will die
            if Y wins!") with people in fields like my own studying MRIs to learn
            how to better manipulate voters. Of course, we do those for the
            "right" (left?) candidates, so that's okay.

            Of course this has affected my view of free will. It's also influenced
            how suspicious I am of everything, just as my work writing or my
            internships as a reporter shaped me. Three years of defense-related
            work also shaped my cynical outlook.

            > Besides myself and perhaps Louise (or Trinidad), aren't there any
            > folks here
            > who have faced the dark night of the soul, as it were, and have come
            > to
            > understand our self-satisfactions and consumer-wrought sanguinities
            > as a hopeless
            > charade, an empty shell game, a bad comportment to life itself?

            Personally, I don't have a soul -- thankfully sparing me being "saved"
            by various fanatics. My view of hopelessness is much grander than a
            moment. I simply wonder why, with the universe eventually coming to
            either a cold or explosive end (theories vary), we don't make more of
            the brief moments of existence.

            Life is short. You can wallow in misery or you can do something about
            it. You can try to understand the absurd (which I think is beyond
            comprehension) or you can do something to make other "meaningless"
            lives more tolerable. Sure, I also want my life to be tolerable along
            the way.

            Once you know how mortal you are, or if you have generally lived with
            that mortality, then you can either decide (free will, definitely) to
            end the pain of existence, or you can decide to confront the absurd
            and make the most of it.

            My free will is to live. Beyond that, once you choose to exist you are
            forever moderated by the circumstances of your birth -- genetic,
            social, familial, and even fortunate circumstances. Certainly, I had
            no choice when it came to my physical limitations, but I do choose to
            live with them or to wallow in self-pity.

            I'd rather exist... cynicism and all.

            - C. S. Wyatt
            I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
            that I shall be.
            http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
            http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
          • Herman B. Triplegood
            Reason, or rationality, or just good sense, should prevail. That isn t optimism. That is being reasonable -- as well as pragmatic. All three that you mention
            Message 5 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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              Reason, or rationality, or just good sense, should prevail. That
              isn't optimism. That is being reasonable -- as well as pragmatic. All
              three that you mention are important for what they have to say about
              this. But Kant is my favorite. He is honest about whar reason can and
              cannot know, and he recognizes that the practical applications of
              reason are of greater importance to us than the merely theoretical
              applications. Yet, he does not disrespect theoretical reason either.
              His view is, in this sense, nicely balanced, and it is kind of
              existential in this way, don't you think?

              Hb3g

              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:
              >
              >
              > Okay.
              >
              > To be perhaps even more infuriating, though...I am not a pessimist
              either, at least in the long view. I agree with Kant and Hegel and
              Nietzsche, each in their own way, that reason or rationality or just
              good sense may actually prevail.
              >
              >
              >
              > WS
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
              > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 5:23 pm
              > Subject: [existlist] Re: Das last man
              >
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              > Wil: I wasn't thinking of you, actually, but you are correct
              >
              > that "shiny happy people existentialism" is not existentialism. If
              >
              > that describes you, I am sorry for that, but I am confident of my
              >
              > position vis-a-vis the literature, which goes by the ascription
              >
              > of "existentialist" and which has everything to do with the mode of
              >
              > thought called the same.
              >
              >
              >
              > Jim: No, I would not describe myself as a "shiny happy person", and
              >
              > I am not disagreeing with your interpretation of the existentialist
              >
              > literature.
              >
              >
              >
              > My own philosophical outlook is closest to Kierkegaard's but
              without
              >
              > the theism. This is a pessimistic outlook.
              >
              >
              >
              > Wil: What you mean by "political correctness" eludes me. What
              >
              > politics would you like espouse that you feel is too politically
              >
              > incorrect, as far as I or anyone else goes? Gulags, extraordinary
              >
              > renditions, waterboarding? Doesn't sound like you. Or are you
              saying
              >
              > that it is all-too "political correct" to mention the 'dark night
              of
              >
              > the soul', rather than champion some Prosac inspired crap about how
              >
              > a day with a big utilitarian smile is like a day without sunshine?
              >
              >
              >
              > Jim: No, my point was that you seemed to be advocating a version of
              >
              > political correctness which disallowed (or, at least, discouraged)
              >
              > non-existentialist or anti-existentialist viewpoints. My
              alternative
              >
              > was to allow the full range of views, as even the anti-
              >
              > existentialist post can be the catalyst for a good discussion.
              >
              >
              >
              > Jim
              >
              >
              >
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              >
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              >
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              >
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              >
              >
              >
              >
              ______________________________________________________________________
              __
              > 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]
              >
            • Herman B. Triplegood
              CSW: I m wondering, beyond the New Age obscurisms and religion, what ideologies promise one a feel good solution in today s world? In fact, I would argue
              Message 6 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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                CSW: I'm wondering, beyond the New Age obscurisms and religion, what
                ideologies promise one a "feel good" solution in today's world? In
                fact, I would argue that most of the humanities are littered with
                victimology, guilt, and a generally low regard for most (curiously)
                humans.

                Hb3g: It is odd. One would think that the humanities would be a
                humanistic lot. If what you say is true, then, it would appear that
                they are, indeed, a bunch of pessimists. As for the "feel good
                solution", well, one could look at it two ways, just as one could
                look at pessimism two ways. There is blithe optimism that fails to
                see there really is an ugly side. But there is also a more realistic
                optimism that recognizes that we shape what we experience to some
                extent by the attitudes we bring to our experiences. Typically,
                people I have known who are realisically optimistic tend to feel
                better about themslves and their life and, I maintain, probably do
                live better lives. Just as realistically pessimistic people tend not
                to be bamboozled so easily.

                CSW: We seem to be conditioned by fear and dread.

                Hb3g: It is a basic instinct. Usually, whenever something new or
                surprising comes along, our initial reaction to it is a fearful one.
                Understanding comes later. Often, much later.

                CSW: Personally, I don't have a soul -- thankfully sparing me
                being "saved" by various fanatics. My view of hopelessness is much
                grander than a moment. I simply wonder why, with the universe
                eventually coming to either a cold or explosive end (theories vary),
                we don't make more of the brief moments of existence.

                Hb3g: Yeah, I ain't got one of those either. Thank god! HAHAHA! Okay,
                thank fate! Or, whatever! That's better!

                CSW: Life is short. You can wallow in misery or you can do something
                about it.

                Hb3g: Suffering is one of the many problems that just being alive
                presents to us. We ought to deal with it instead of just give in to
                it. That is one of the things I really like about the whole
                Enlightenment scientific attitude. Let's try to mitigate suffering
                rather than elevate it and worship it as our punishment for just
                being alive. Seneca once said that fate guides those who are willing
                and drags the rest along in chains. I think Seneca, of all people,
                would have known the truth to this. He had the misfortune of having
                to be Nero's mentor.

                CSW: Once you know how mortal you are, or if you have generally lived
                with that mortality, then you can either decide (free will,
                definitely) to end the pain of existence, or you can decide to
                confront the absurd and make the most of it.

                Hb3g: But is it really absurd? It seems to me that you have leaped
                from "pain of existence" to "absurd" here, or, perhaps, from "mortal"
                to "absurd", but how, in your thinking, does this really follow? What
                would not being absurd even look like on this account? Living
                forever? Never having a pain of existence? This sounds an awful lot
                like what theological doctrine dangles in front of our face as the
                reward for being in conformity with those expectations of us. The
                problem with either of these notions, being immortal, and being in a
                state of eternal bliss without pain, is that they are impossible.
                They, themselves, are what is absurd. They are absurd when they are
                held up as the ideals upon which the living of a necessarily mortal
                and necessarily often painful life must be based. As such ideals,
                they in fact constitute a denial of life, rather than an affirmation
                of it. Why? Because they demand that life must "live up to" what life
                can never be.

                CSW: My free will is to live. Beyond that, once you choose to exist
                you are forever moderated by the circumstances of your birth --
                genetic, social, familial, and even fortunate circumstances.
                Certainly, I had no choice when it came to my physical limitations,
                but I do choose to live with them or to wallow in self-pity. I'd
                rather exist... cynicism and all.

                Hb3g: Yeah, me too. I would rather exist. but I might change my mind
                about that if I was withering away from a painful cancer. It is
                interesting to observe that it certainly wasn't by means of our free
                will that any of us began to live. We didn't have a choice about
                that. Also, having a "will to live" isn't necessarily always a "free"
                will kind of thing. There is a basic instinct to survive that has
                little, if anything at all, to do with our freely deciding anything.
                We easily forget that. We like to talk ourselves into believing that
                the reason why we continue to live is because we freely choose to do
                so. I do not think that this is really the case. We continue to live
                because we must. That is what living things, by their very nature,
                necessarily, must try to do.

                This is life. This is what life does. Where is the freedom? It looks
                like necessity to me. But, then again, I tend to believe that when we
                come to really understand what freedom is, it looks like necessity.
                That seems to be a paradox. But what if it is a true paradox? Kant
                thought it was a true paradox. He said that both sides of the
                antinomial argument on that point had to be true.

                Hb3g
              • eupraxis@aol.com
                Hb3g, [Kant s] view is, in this sense, nicely balanced, and it is kind of existential in this way, don t you think? Kant had a great influence on the seminal
                Message 7 of 24 , Nov 1, 2007
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                  Hb3g,

                  "[Kant's] view is, in this sense, nicely balanced, and it is kind of
                  existential in this way, don't you think?"

                  Kant had a great influence on the seminal thinkers of the 20th Century that
                  we associate with Existentialism and Phenomenology, but I wouldn't call him an
                  existentialist.

                  In my opinion, Existentialism-as-such comes out of a distinct period of
                  Western European history that was described by its contemporaries as a "crisis" and
                  scission (witness the 'fin de siecle' themes at the century's turn). I see
                  Nietzsche's 'Death of God' in that light, for example.

                  Certainly from the 1840s onwards, the themes of critical breakage are writ
                  large in most philosophical, political and scientific writers of note, from Marx
                  and Stirner through Darwin and Rutherford and Freud, Einstein, Joyce and
                  beyond. But the period between and after the wars was absolutely decisive in the
                  trajectory of the genre that understood itself as something cohesive and with
                  the familial associations that make up a trend or 'school'.

                  Kant sensed his time as one of liberation from medieval backwardness, and as
                  achieving "enlightenment" (Aufklarung). It was a Progressive and "philosophe"
                  discourse. The crisis of his time was not his own, but was rather the that of
                  the faltering medievalism of church and crown. Existentialism's crisis is our
                  own.

                  Secondly, Existentialism is essentially anti-formalist (which might strike
                  someone new to it as odd as he or she is trudging through densely theoretical
                  texts like Being and Time or Being and Nothingness). The architecture of the
                  first Critique is anathematic to what Existentialism is all about, as is anything
                  like a categorical imperative. Heidegger recasts the former's "categories" as
                  existentialia in B&T, which retains the rationalizing function of the
                  original while not allowing itself the architectonic of Kant's logic. (I see Sartre's
                  B&N as more Hegelian than Kantian.)

                  And yet, once one begins to see older texts through that oddly jaundiced eye
                  of modernity, it is hard not to recast them as if 'contemporary', especially
                  when one reads, not as an historian, but as a "user", if I can use that term. I
                  read Hegel that way, and Kant too.

                  Wil

                  In a message dated 11/1/07 8:09:09 PM, hb3g@... writes:


                  > Reason, or rationality, or just good sense, should prevail. That
                  > isn't optimism. That is being reasonable -- as well as pragmatic. All
                  > three that you mention are important for what they have to say about
                  > this. But Kant is my favorite. He is honest about whar reason can and
                  > cannot know, and he recognizes that the practical applications of
                  > reason are of greater importance to us than the merely theoretical
                  > applications. Yet, he does not disrespect theoretical reason either.
                  > His view is, in this sense, nicely balanced, and it is kind of
                  > existential in this way, don't you think?
                  >
                  > Hb3g
                  >
                  >
                  >




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