Kierkegaard on Absurdity

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kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:12 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;96012 wrote:
In my reading of Camus, it's not that the will to live in itself prompts suicide.

It's that the actual decision to commit suicide, not the thought but the execution of the act, is the one decision that's left to the hopeless person. When life is otherwise bereft, that decision is the final expression of being alive.

This bears out in clinical practice, by the way. Some people with severe depression and suicidality are so apathetic that they don't have the will to do anything at all.

But you put them on an antidepressant and as they recover their risk of suicide can actually increase, because they finally have the will to carry out a plan.


I don't think I said that Camus believes that it is the will to live that prompts people to commit suicide.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 12:39 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96025 wrote:
I don't think I said that Camus believes that it is the will to live that prompts people to commit suicide.
I didn't say you had. You were responding dubiously to such a reading of Camus -- but that's not what Camus wrote anyway.
 
Table
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:09 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;95975 wrote:
Kierkegaard is saying "I am going ahead and choosing one of the best available, equally valid options, because otherwise, I would be still deliberating which equally valid option to choose."


That clarifies it a lot. Thank you.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 05:46 pm
@Arjuna,
Quote:

Originally Posted by ACB http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
The thought process presumably goes something like this:

1. The two options appear equally valid.
2. I must choose one of them; failure to choose would be irrational.
3. Since I have no other means of deciding, I will choose whichever option happens (by chance) to come more prominently into my mind after this moment.
4. Option B has come more prominently into my mind.
5. Therefore, I choose option B.

Steps 3-5 of course happen very rapidly, so we are barely aware of them as separate steps.

One could use various terms to explain step (4), e.g. chance, randomness, quantum uncertainty. But there doesn't seem to be anything particularly 'absurd' about it. I don't think it's a profound philosophical question.


Quote:

I think that 3-5 does not actually happen. It is a reconstruction of what happens. The absurdity of step 4 is, I suppose, just that there is no reason for it. That we take the step for no reason is what is absurd. Absurdity is the absence of reason.


Exactly. Step 4 is a non-rational step in determining a choice. It's like saying you're going to decide by flipping a coin. You're not reasoning to a choice, you're breaking the chain of reasoning with a random determinant.

It's rational to make a choice, but deciding on which equally rational choice to make, may not be necessarily rational.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:06 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96080 wrote:
Exactly. Step 4 is a non-rational step in determining a choice. It's like saying you're going to decide by flipping a coin. You're not reasoning to a choice, you're breaking the chain of reasoning with a random determinant.

It's rational to make a choice, but deciding on which equally rational choice to make, may not be necessarily rational.

Randomness isn't rational, that's true.
I don't think Keirkegaard was saying that to act without reason is putting faith in a coin-flip. That makes faith itself absurd. But maybe faith is what carries us through facing the boundary of reason.

He said somewhere that faith is like floating in water that is 70,000 fathoms deep.

To act without reason takes faith because it holds out the possibility of meaning that hasn't been grasped yet... that one doesn't know can be grasped.

I had a friend I would go hiking with. We would go through an area covered in large boulders. I would carefully struggle my way through the boulders, while she would lift off and run through them. She would always be at the waterfall well rested, when I arrived worn out and bruised. One day I wanted to know what it was like to run like that... so.. I took off. I ran over the boulders and discovered what it takes to do that: faith.

You have to have faith that your foot will land and stick from rock to rock without having the time to organize any of it rationally. There's a surrender to the part of you that knows how to do that... trust in something that reason has no part in.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:13 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;96088 wrote:
Randomness isn't rational, that's true.
I don't think Keirkegaard was saying that to act without reason is putting faith in a coin-flip. That makes faith itself absurd. But maybe faith is what carries us through facing the boundary of reason.

He said somewhere that faith is like floating in water that is 70,000 fathoms deep.

To act without reason takes faith because it holds out the possibility of meaning that hasn't been grasped yet... that one doesn't know can be grasped.

I had a friend I would go hiking with. We would go through an area covered in large boulders. I would carefully struggle my way through the boulders, while she would lift off and run through them. She would always be at the waterfall well rested, when I arrived worn out and bruised. One day I wanted to know what it was like to run like that... so.. I took off. I ran over the boulders and discovered what it takes to do that: faith.

You have to have faith that your foot will land and stick from rock to rock without having the time to organize any of it rationally. There's a surrender to the part of you that knows how to do that... trust in something that reason has no part in.


I wonder where all the other people are; I mean the those who weren't careful like you, and who ran, and who relied on faith. Did all of them make it without mishap too? Did your friend mention them too?
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:58 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;96088 wrote:
Randomness isn't rational, that's true.
I don't think Keirkegaard was saying that to act without reason is putting faith in a coin-flip. That makes faith itself absurd. But maybe faith is what carries us through facing the boundary of reason.

He said somewhere that faith is like floating in water that is 70,000 fathoms deep.

To act without reason takes faith because it holds out the possibility of meaning that hasn't been grasped yet... that one doesn't know can be grasped.

I had a friend I would go hiking with. We would go through an area covered in large boulders. I would carefully struggle my way through the boulders, while she would lift off and run through them. She would always be at the waterfall well rested, when I arrived worn out and bruised. One day I wanted to know what it was like to run like that... so.. I took off. I ran over the boulders and discovered what it takes to do that: faith.

You have to have faith that your foot will land and stick from rock to rock without having the time to organize any of it rationally. There's a surrender to the part of you that knows how to do that... trust in something that reason has no part in.


No doubt it is exhilarating; faith is passionate, reason is not. Faith is a powerful thing we humans have at our disposal, but it is not to be used haphazardly. Replacing reason with faith is just as bad as replacing faith with reason. And although faith may be passionate, lacking reason would leave you in fear and trembling when you have to make some of the hardest decisions of your life. Not something to embrace, but to realize as necessary at times.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:15 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96107 wrote:
No doubt it is exhilarating; faith is passionate, reason is not. Faith is a powerful thing we humans have at our disposal, but it is not to be used haphazardly. Replacing reason with faith is just as bad as replacing faith with reason. And although faith may be passionate, lacking reason would leave you in fear and trembling when you have to make some of the hardest decisions of your life. Not something to embrace, but to realize as necessary at times.


Yop. i just read about two parents, mother and father, who were sentenced to prison for letting their diabetic little girl die of neglect because they did not take her to a physician, but relied on faith. I hope they are exhilarated.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:24 pm
@Victor Eremita,
kennethamy;96091 wrote:
I wonder where all the other people are; I mean the those who weren't careful like you, and who ran, and who relied on faith. Did all of them make it without mishap too? Did your friend mention them too?
I never heard of anybody breaking their neck on that particular trail.. though every year at least one tourist would fall and die somewhere. The story was usually that a person just accidently hiked right over a cliff. A man would describe seeing his wife ahead of him, and then she was gone. I don't think that's faith, though... that's just not watching where you're going when there are 500 foot drops all around.

Victor Eremita;96107 wrote:
No doubt it is exhilarating; faith is passionate, reason is not. Faith is a powerful thing we humans have at our disposal, but it is not to be used haphazardly. Replacing reason with faith is just as bad as replacing faith with reason. And although faith may be passionate, lacking reason would leave you in fear and trembling when you have to make some of the hardest decisions of your life. Not something to embrace, but to realize as necessary at times.
Yes.. very true.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:32 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;96117 wrote:
I never heard of anybody breaking their neck on that particular trail.. though every year at least one tourist would fall and die somewhere. The story was usually that a person just accidently hiked right over a cliff. A man would describe seeing his wife ahead of him, and then she was gone. I don't think that's faith, though... that's just not watching where you're going when there are 500 foot drops all around.



How do you tell the difference? Is it, perhaps, when you are successful, it is faith, but when you get into trouble, it is not being careful?
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:39 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96119 wrote:
Yop. i just read about two parents, mother and father, who were sentenced to prison for letting their diabetic little girl die of neglect because they did not take her to a physician, but relied on faith. I hope they are exhilarated.


That's not faith if they don't suffer anxiety and fear, if they don't doubt their actions, if they just sit back and are lazy to pay the doctor's bill, then they're just being deadbeat.

Quote:

How do you tell the difference? Is it, perhaps, when you are successful, it is faith, but when you get into trouble, it is not being careful?


Be what may on consequences, faith involves the person; if the person is in the right frame of mind, then it may be faith. But because that is an inward property, those of us observing on the outside cannot tell whether they really have faith or are just mad.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:52 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96120 wrote:
That's not faith if they don't suffer anxiety and fear, if they don't doubt their actions, if they just sit back and are lazy to pay the doctor's bill, then they're just being deadbeat.



Be what may on consequences, faith involves the person; if the person is in the right frame of mind, then it may be faith. But because that is an inward property, those of us observing on the outside cannot tell whether they really have faith or are just mad.


I don't know what they felt. I just know they let their daughter die. (I have no reason to think they didn't want to pay the doctor. And neither do you).

You mean it is up to the person himself to decide whether it is faith? All right. I have no reason to think the parents were lying. So, now what? Faith is, after all, merely strong belief minus any evidence, or even, as in this case, contrary to evidence. And belief can be false. There is nothing particularly sacroscanct about strong belief. Indeed, on the contrary.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:32 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96125 wrote:

You mean it is up to the person himself to decide whether it is faith? All right. I have no reason to think the parents were lying. So, now what? Faith is, after all, merely strong belief minus any evidence, or even, as in this case, contrary to evidence. And belief can be false. There is nothing particularly sacroscanct about strong belief. Indeed, on the contrary.


That's fine. As I said, faith is inward. Behaviourally, madness and faith can be identical and we external observers can definitely criticize on those grounds. As Kierkegaard says,

Quote:

To want to continue to call Abraham the father of faith, to talk of this to people who do not concern themselves with anything but words, is thoughtless. A man can become a tragic hero by his own powers -- but not a knight of faith. When a man enters upon the way, in a certain sense the hard way of the tragic hero, many will be able to give him counsel; to him who follows the narrow way of faith no one can give counsel, him no one can understand


[/SIZE]When you do something in faith, we can definitely think you're nuts. But if you realize that reason has led you to standstill or an impasse, sometimes faith is the way to go.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:02 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96129 wrote:
That's fine. As I said, faith is inward. Behaviourally, madness and faith can be identical and we external observers can definitely criticize on those grounds. As Kierkegaard says,



[/SIZE]When you do something in faith, we can definitely think you're nuts. But if you realize that reason has led you to standstill or an impasse, sometimes faith is the way to go.


Not only "behaviorally". Why not from the first person point of view. There is no reason to believe that a madman need be able to tell that he is mad. In fact, on the contrary. Anyway, there are standard signs of madness which can make a psychiatrist an authority. Abraham was, I think, mad to attempt to kill his only son because he heard voices. What makes you think that he wasn't? Surely not because Abraham believed he wasn't. Most madmen don't think they are mad. And, to what impasse did reason lead Abraham? Reason told him that he must be hallucinating.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:42 pm
@Table,
Why must we talk of faith and reason in such either/or terms?

Every rational process has some faith-based presuppositions at its root.

And every faith-based belief germinates a rationally-derived set of interpretations.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:42 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96131 wrote:
Not only "behaviorally". Why not from the first person point of view. There is no reason to believe that a madman need be able to tell that he is mad. In fact, on the contrary. Anyway, there are standard signs of madness which can make a psychiatrist an authority. Abraham was, I think, mad to attempt to kill his only son because he heard voices. What makes you think that he wasn't? Surely not because Abraham believed he wasn't. Most madmen don't think they are mad. And, to what impasse did reason lead Abraham? Reason told him that he must be hallucinating.


as I said abes situation is specific to him and his actions are unintelligible to us. Sk wants us to realize this before we call him the father of faith because he can just as well been considered a murderer.

---------- Post added 10-08-2009 at 08:49 PM ----------

Aedes;96137 wrote:
Why must we talk of faith and reason in such either/or terms?

Every rational process has some faith-based presuppositions at its root.

And every faith-based belief germinates a rationally-derived set of interpretations.


well that's the interplay between objective and subjective truths which is a whole other story.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:56 pm
@Table,
All truths that humans have access to are partially subjective.

But that only speaks to premise. Reason is not a judgement on a given premise -- it's a process of thought and so is faith.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:57 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96138 wrote:
as I said abes situation is specific to him and his actions are unintelligible to us. Sk wants us to realize this before we call him the father of faith because he can just as well been considered a murderer.

---------- Post added 10-08-2009 at 08:49 PM ----------



well that's the interplay between objective and subjective truths which is a whole other story.



But telling us that Abraham's actions are "unintelligible" to us does not make it so. That could be said about anyone who behaves outrageously. Charles Manson, for instance. Is that supposed to excuse, much less justify that kind of behavior? Or even mitigate? It might be that we understand such people only too well.

The notion of "subjective truth" is what is opaque to me, not Abraham's behavior. Believing something true, however firmly you believe it, does not make it true.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 11:10 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96145 wrote:
But telling us that Abraham's actions are "unintelligible" to us does not make it so. That could be said about anyone who behaves outrageously. Charles Manson, for instance. Is that supposed to excuse, much less justify that kind of behavior? Or even mitigate? It might be that we understand such people only too well.


It's not supposed to justify or mitigate that kind of behaviour. A tragic hero's action is intelligible, for example, to kill a daughter to save millions. We can definitely see the ethical value to the hero's tragic action. But Abraham's action is not those of a tragic hero; it's unintelligible, and we on the outside, cannot understand and will probably dismiss it as ludicrous. And that is what faith is, unpalatable as it may seem, especially if you're looking at it from the outside. That's why Kierkegaard is so criticized from Christian circles by depiciting faith as unintelligible, and that is why Kierkegaard is so criticized from secular circles, because it seems that Kierkegaard is encouraging faith when SK certainly does not do so.

He wants to question the time old adage that Abraham was the father of faith. Why? Because he was going to murder his only son?!

Quote:

The notion of "subjective truth" is what is opaque to me, not Abraham's behavior. Believing something true, however firmly you believe it, does not make it true.
Kierkegaard agrees with that, as objective truth goes hand in hand with subjective truth.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 06:34 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;96158 wrote:
It's not supposed to justify or mitigate that kind of behaviour. A tragic hero's action is intelligible, for example, to kill a daughter to save millions. We can definitely see the ethical value to the hero's tragic action. But Abraham's action is not those of a tragic hero; it's unintelligible, and we on the outside, cannot understand and will probably dismiss it as ludicrous. And that is what faith is, unpalatable as it may seem, especially if you're looking at it from the outside. That's why Kierkegaard is so criticized from Christian circles by depiciting faith as unintelligible, and that is why Kierkegaard is so criticized from secular circles, because it seems that Kierkegaard is encouraging faith when SK certainly does not do so.

He wants to question the time old adage that Abraham was the father of faith. Why? Because he was going to murder his only son?!

Kierkegaard agrees with that, as objective truth goes hand in hand with subjective truth.


But, Abraham's action is not unintelligible, no more than is Charles Manson's. It is the consequence of superstition and delusional thinking. SK considers it ethically unintelligible ("teleological suspension of the ethical") but even that is not true. It is simply immoral to murder.

I don't know what you mean by," objective truth goes hand in hand with subjective truth".
 
 

 
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