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Re: Das last man

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  • 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 1 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.
      >
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      > WS
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      >
      > -----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
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      > that "shiny happy people existentialism" is not existentialism. If
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      > that describes you, I am sorry for that, but I am confident of my
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      > position vis-a-vis the literature, which goes by the ascription
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      > of "existentialist" and which has everything to do with the mode of
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      > Jim: No, I would not describe myself as a "shiny happy person", and
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      > I am not disagreeing with your interpretation of the existentialist
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      > literature.
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      > My own philosophical outlook is closest to Kierkegaard's but
      without
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      > the theism. This is a pessimistic outlook.
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      > Wil: What you mean by "political correctness" eludes me. What
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      > politics would you like espouse that you feel is too politically
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      > incorrect, as far as I or anyone else goes? Gulags, extraordinary
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      > renditions, waterboarding? Doesn't sound like you. Or are you
      saying
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      > that it is all-too "political correct" to mention the 'dark night
      of
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      > the soul', rather than champion some Prosac inspired crap about how
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      > a day with a big utilitarian smile is like a day without sunshine?
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      > Jim: No, my point was that you seemed to be advocating a version of
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      > political correctness which disallowed (or, at least, discouraged)
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      > non-existentialist or anti-existentialist viewpoints. My
      alternative
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      > was to allow the full range of views, as even the anti-
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      > existentialist post can be the catalyst for a good discussion.
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      > Jim
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      ______________________________________________________________________
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      > Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL
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      >
      >
      > [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 2 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 3 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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