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Showing posts from July, 2013

More of Nothing

Edward Feser discusses John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn's The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All?

Flower of the mountain

The final episode of James Joyce's Ulysses is compromised of a long, unpunctuated monologue written using the stream of consciousness technique. Molly lies in the bed next to her husband, and through the long-winded course of the soliloquy her thoughts turn to the day Bloom proposed to her.
Joyce's prose in Ulyssess makes for a daunting read. I find much of the book to be unreadable, I confess, but this famous ending passage, the last fifty lines or so of the chapter, stands out for its beautiful lyricism. The best way to enjoy it is to simultaneously listen to the audio rendition as you read the words. This will help you tap into the natural flow of thoughts contained therein, and the experience will be something hard to forget.

"God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with the fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart goo…

Shadowy Whisperers

Most of what we read ultimately ends up forgotten. We retain vague impressions of the books, primarily how we felt when we read them and what we thought of them. The actual content fades away, except for a few passages here and there that made an impression on us for one reason or another. Tomes of hundreds of pages, and in the end, we are left with a handful of paraphrased quotations and a blurry summary shorter than Wikipedia's synopsis, and sometimes not even that. 'What futility!' one imagines. Even for the books that changed our lives, there is little that can be recalled. And yet, one hopes, some part of those books remains in us, at least the better ones, woven into our being, setting the stage for our beliefs and biases. Long forgotten passages lurking in our minds like shadowy whisperers, putting words in our mouths that we may never come to speak otherwise.

'Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?'

“Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;—it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are!”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Confabulations

"We are all vulnerable to confabulation when we are asked why have a certain attitude, such as a moral judgement, a preference, or an emotional reaction. We make up a reason for it that seems plausible but does not track the causal mechanisms responsible for the formation of that attitude."
Lisa Bortolotti, Confabulatory explanations

Meaning and Bad Faith

During a conversation Iris interpreted the denial of obligation to realize values as a form of Sartrean bad faith, and I share...
Iris: The point here is that if one wants meaning, one is obligated to realize these values because of this interdependent relationship. The best thing is that Frankl also indicates the possibility of such a realization. His life is a good example. So Frankl's assertion about this obligation makes total sense. Not being under this obligation only reflects a Sartrean 'bad faith'. It is bad faith in a measure that if a possibility of finding meaning is offered, it will be impossible to find a strong and valid reason to deny this possibility - except again for having this bad faith.