Author Topic: Philosophy  (Read 83 times)

etdoesgood

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Philosophy
« on: April 10, 2020, 01:57:14 AM »
The political thread is hitting me in a philosophical place these days, so I figured I'd start something to see if others have any interest in philosophy. Of course, the films we see are also imbued with philosophy, to at least some extent, if they're worth anything beyond entertainment. As with anything outside of pedagogy, I'm not an authority, but I have read many philosophical works, and have taken from them what fits my worldview, and have also seen said worldview evolve quite a bit. I'd say I'm an existentialist in the vein of Albert Camus, as well as a pragmatist in the vein of John Dewey.

I also wanted an excuse to forward this chapter from Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, as I think it's a great distillation of why nihilism is not for me, as it wasn't for him. Actually, I think novels are often more useful in philosophy than more blatant works of philosophy because they are oriented around the practical world and not simply up in the air. Anyhow, Chapter 36: Meow:

36. Meow
During my trip to Ilium and to points beyond—a two-week expedition bridging Christmas—I let a poor poet named Sherman Krebbs have my New York City apartment free. My second wife had left me on the grounds that I was too pessimistic for an optimist to live with.

Krebbs was a bearded man, a platinum blond Jesus with spaniel eyes. He was no close friend of mine. I had met him at a cocktail party where he presented himself as National Chairman of Poets and Painters for Immediate Nuclear War. He begged for shelter, not necessarily bomb proof, and it happened that I had some.

When I returned to my apartment, still twanging with the puzzling spiritual implications of the unclaimed stone angel in Ilium, I found my apartment wrecked by a nihilistic debauch. Krebbs was gone; but, before leaving, he had run up three-hundred-dollars’ worth of long-distance calls, set my couch on fire in five places, killed my cat and my avocado tree, and torn the door off my medicine cabinet.

He wrote this poem, in what proved to be excrement, on the yellow linoleum floor of my kitchen:

I have a kitchen.
But it is not a complete kitchen.
I will not be truly gay
Until I have a
Dispose-all.
There was another message, written in lipstick in a feminine hand on the wallpaper over my bed. It said: “No, no, no, said Chicken-licken.”

There was a sign hung around my dead cat’s neck. It said, “Meow.”

I have not seen Krebbs since. Nonetheless, I sense that he was my karass. If he was, he served it as a wrang-wrang. A wrang-wrang, according to Bokonon, is a person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang’s own life, to an absurdity.

I might have been vaguely inclined to dismiss the stone angel as meaningless, and to go from there to the meaninglessness of all. But after I saw what Krebbs had done, in particular what he had done to my sweet cat, nihilism was not for me.

Somebody or something did not wish me to be a nihilist. It was Krebbs’s mission, whether he knew it or not, to disenchant me with that philosophy. Well, done, Mr. Krebbs, well done.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Philosophy
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2020, 09:02:49 AM »
Cat's Cradle is a great book!

oldkid

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Re: Philosophy
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2020, 10:33:55 PM »
I'm happy to have a philosophy thread.

Meaninglessness or nihilism need not lead to absurdity.  Pure absurdity, I believe, is a path for some (I have met some of these people), but pure nihilism, no external meaning, seems to me to lead to some internal meaning.  Even if that meaning is one's favorite football team or writing an excellent movie review.

Absurdity, unless one is mentally incapacitated, is working too hard, because life isn't naturally without pattern and the human, more often than not, naturally creates patterns out of what is not there.  So the average person, to accept absurd nihilism as a lifestyle, will have to fight against both the fibonacci sequence and pareidolia.

It just seems easier to fall into the meaning of what we understand, even if that is an absurdity to others.

In dealing with many people who live with deep, life-threatening schizophrenia, they do not pursue the absurd.  Just the opposite.  They have a pattern that is no out of the norm that it is difficult to understand.  But once it is understood, usually the person can find a manner in which they can live safely, although oddly, within society.  The problem is when people want to inflict their sense of order upon others, and call how they are trying to live "nihilism" or "atheism".

The individual order always looks absurd to someone observing it.

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etdoesgood

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Re: Philosophy
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2020, 05:42:41 AM »
I'm happy to have a philosophy thread.

Meaninglessness or nihilism need not lead to absurdity.  Pure absurdity, I believe, is a path for some (I have met some of these people), but pure nihilism, no external meaning, seems to me to lead to some internal meaning.  Even if that meaning is one's favorite football team or writing an excellent movie review.

You're getting at the difference between pure nihilism and nihilistic existentialism. The former is no meaning period. And when there's no meaning, nothing I do matters. This can lead to destructive and unhinged impulses, as seen in Vonnegut's narrative above. Nihilistic existentialism is where we make meaning, and for me those meanings are personal and social. I don't think you can have one without the other. Thinking about it, I might put humanism into the nihilistic existentialist basket, a more formally thought-out version of it. I'm very interested in humanism.

Another big question is where or not humanism can also be expressed in tandem with theology. In the Gospel, Jesus behaves much like a humanist, but is the higher motivation to glorify God? If so, it makes his claim to humanism spurious. Vonnegut, once an honorary president of the American Humanist Association, really liked Jesus, though.

Absurdity, unless one is mentally incapacitated, is working too hard, because life isn't naturally without pattern and the human, more often than not, naturally creates patterns out of what is not there.  So the average person, to accept absurd nihilism as a lifestyle, will have to fight against both the fibonacci sequence and pareidolia.

It just seems easier to fall into the meaning of what we understand, even if that is an absurdity to others.

In dealing with many people who live with deep, life-threatening schizophrenia, they do not pursue the absurd.  Just the opposite.  They have a pattern that is no out of the norm that it is difficult to understand.  But once it is understood, usually the person can find a manner in which they can live safely, although oddly, within society.  The problem is when people want to inflict their sense of order upon others, and call how they are trying to live "nihilism" or "atheism".

The individual order always looks absurd to someone observing it.

I think people can find comfort in absurdity, so I'm not sure I agree that it's working too hard. I think it's the end of work. If nothing means anything and nothing matters - which are a bit circular since by stating or believing in these tenets you are subscribing to a worldview - you can simply respond to any opposing view with "It does not matter" or "You have no proof that it matters," and that would be right in the way it's framed since we cannot go back to the original source of life and prove otherwise, nor force them to empathize with a being that finds meaning even if the original source is random and pointless. The argument is over and there is nothing to be gained by rehashing the fundamental truth that they have discovered. The end of work.

For someone who subscribes to a particular theology or is otherwise "spiritual", nihilism and absurdity are impossible. I can see the comfort even if it's impossible for me to believe.
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