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Getting back to ideals

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PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Tim Black reviews Susan Neiman’s book, Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-up Idealists:

Neiman writes: ‘We want to determine the world, not merely be determined by it; we want to stand above the things we may want to consume. You can call this the urge for transcendence, so long as you don’t call it mystical. We are born as we die, a part of nature, but we feel most alive when we go beyond it. And we go beyond it often – every time we explore the world instead of simply taking it in.’ She concludes: ‘To be human is to refuse to accept the given as given.’

Sounds like a good read.

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5 Comments

  1. Aaron The Janitor King says:

    Sounds like technological thinking!

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  2. Rob says:

    Yes, I thought of (late) Heidegger, too, but also of (late) Wittgenstein, and the great challenge they saw in recovering the pathos of “accepting the given as given”, if not also of Zarathustra’s quasi-mystical moment of transcendence “At Midday” (in Book IV), wherein he ecstatically contemplates his wondrous soul being drunk back into “the serene and ghastly mid-day abyss” of the heavens.

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  3. Huenemann says:

    Yes, I gather the book is a cry for a return to enlightenment ideals. Hard to resist, sometimes.

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  4. Rob says:

    At the level of public discourse and political policy, the cry can’t be beat, I think, but at an underlying, existential level it feels, to me at least, wanting in depth. But that, it seems, is our dilemma: the values (consumeristic, individualistic, and whatever else communitarians like MacIntyre complain about) which support, and are in turn promoted by, our best chances of material prosperity seem to be at odds with other needs for meaningfulness which are susceptible to finding satisfaction in fascistic, anti-individualistic, anti-liberal eschatelogical, deep-meaning-conferring schemes. Britney Spears or the Führer.

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