Showing posts with the label Philosophy

The Most Important Question in Philosophy - Part 4 of 4

Loss is a special kind of pain. The loss of a loved one, and the loss of cognitive functioning. Those are the two most intense kinds of loss that I have experienced, and we all will, or have, experienced them. What is this feeling of loss? What can we do about it?

A loss is revelatory. It reveals something that we valued. Sometimes we were not even aware of what we valued, or at least not aware that we valued it so much, until it was gone. This alone can help point us towards values in the future. Let's take five examples and see what we can learn from them.

When I was 20 my girlfriend ended up pregnant, it was a partial surprise. I hadn't really thought much about having kids up to that point, and I reacted primarily by getting nervous and being conservative. Then, the miscarriage. The miscarriage revealed that I had actually wanted to have a baby, I valued it, and two years later she was pregnant again. The second miscarriage was even harder than the first because I had allo…

The Most Important Question in Philosophy - Part 3 of ?

Pain and loss are both unavoidable. They are inevitable. I have experience with pain and loss, you have experience with pain and loss, and we will both have more experience with pain and loss. We can't create a situation where we won't experience them, so we must adapt to them. Pain and loss are the two primary things that make life not worth living; therefore, they are two of the primary things that we must focus on when answering "What makes life worth living?"

Let's start with Benjamin Franklin, possibly the most important person in the founding of the United States of America. Few people know that he wrote a small dissertation in 1725 that deals directly with our issue. Franklin had 100 copies printed and gave a few to friends, but it caused such a stir within the people that read it that Franklin burned the rest of the copies. Here are 6 of the 14 propositions:

"1. A Creature when endu'd with Life or Consciousness, is made capable of Uneasiness or P…

The Most Important Question in Philosophy - Part 2 of ?

Oh boy, let's dive back in. We've taken the question from Camus, "Is life worth living?", and answered it: "Maybe." At this moment, in this place, it may be either a yes or a no. Either way, we've found a better question to ask, "What makes life worth living?", and "What could make life worth living?" Now, we endeavor to pursue answers.

Since I think that life is worth living at this moment, and most living people do, I am going to work mostly with the question, "What makes life worth living?" Worth is the key word in that sentence. What does worth mean? Eight definitions come up on Google, and even when we look into the etymology we see that it goes back to earlier words that also have a direct translation to value, price, and/or merit. These are fundamental concepts. A value is something that you seek to attain. I just made that definition up, and it's true. So, our question could also be phrased, "What makes lif…

The Most Important Question in Philosophy - Part 1 of ?

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."(1) So begins "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Albert Camus. I think that there may be a better question.

We must first decide how we are to judge questions, what makes one superior to another. Camus has a view on this as well, "If I ask myself how to judge that this question is more urgent than that, I reply that one judges by the actions it entails."(2)
Albert Camus is the founder of Absurdism, the idea that humans seek meaning and that meaning cannot be found inherently, or even at all, in life. Camus even approaches the defining of the absurd in unusual ways, for instance: "What, in fact, is the absurd man? He who, without negating it, does nothing for the eternal."(3) And, "This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling…

Concerning the International Society For Philosophers

I've been meaning to write four essays for the International Society For Philosophers for the last few years. I think I have four interesting subjects to expand on finally. Philosophy can be boring, but it shouldn't be.

The meaning of life is the most obvious choice for me. I studied the subject for about a decade in a serious way, after an emotionally traumatic death when I was 13. The first place to start is to determine the meaning of meaning. That sounds slightly boring, but it's not. In one case meaning can mean definition, a symbol or representation of something. In that case we arrive at a question closer to what is the definition of life? In that case we lead into subjective experience and sensation. Next we can determine that most people mean something closer to significance, so the question becomes more about what is the significance of life? In that case we delve into values, and I'll probably bring in some information about the subjective theory of value fr…