Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

Consider this:

Suppose there were 5 people, all the same age and in the same state of health, who were diagnosed with the same terminal illness that had progressed to the same degree. All were expected to die.

Person 1 has a church full of devout Christians praying for them.

Person 2 has a their Synagogue praying the Mi Sheberach healing prayer for them every day.

Person 3 has everyone in their Mosque praying for them.

Person 4 has every Shinto priest in Japan praying that the ancestors heal them.

Person 5 has there most devoted atheist friends visiting and comforting them each day and hoping for healing.

Would there be a difference in the outcome of the illness for each of these 5 people?

I know what I think and it may not be what you expect. But, I’m not going to tell you until you tell me what you think. If you are willing to play then comment on this post and answer this;

1. Would there be a difference in the outcome of the illness for each person?

2. Why?

3. If you answered question 2 by saying that God, Spirit, the universe, the ancestors, whatever, intervenes in what happens then do the people with the illness deserve what happens to them and why would that “higher power” choose to help some but not others?

I’ll tell you what I think in another post. Right now I want to give you a voice.

How a serious discussion between two Facebook friends gets derailed into absurdity by…. yup…. ME! (Who says philosophers don’t have a sense of humor!)

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Today on Facebook…

Marsha Enright

7 hours ago ·

  • A whole rack of comic books about philosophers and thinkers, in the Ateneo book store, Buenos Aires. I took a picture of the one on Nietzsche especially for Stephen Hicks.
          
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    • Stephen Hicks and 17 others like this.
    • Marsha Enright Thanks to Luli Coll and Marina Coll for showing me this store.
      7 hours ago · Like · 4
    • Michael AtlasMovie Brown .cc R. Kevin Hill
      7 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Steve Bilow Hey!!! I’ve got a great idea from this! Nietzsche and a bunch of Nazis go to South Park and tell the boys that “Kenny is Dead”. Prof. Stephen Hicks could get WAY more royalties!!! Need an agent?
      7 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Marsha Enright Sounds perfect! And we should make an Ayn Rand comic book (I know there are some already….)
      7 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Kurt Keefner I saw the Schopenhauer comic book. All the pages were black.
      7 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Steve Bilow I saw the Derrida comic book. All the pages just explained that all the pages were not pages.
      7 hours ago · Like · 4
    • Kurt Keefner The Plato comic book was weird, it had another, similar but more perfect “ghost” comic book hovering over it. No extra charge, though.
      7 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Steve Bilow The fragments of the Barthes comic book were hard to read…. but pretty.
      7 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Stephen Hicks They thought about a Descartes edition, but it didn’t exist.
      6 hours ago · Like · 4
    • Charles Dahl I wish Steve Ditko’s Objectivist comics were still in print. Did you see any?
      6 hours ago · Like · 2
    • Steve Bilow I do need to go back to work but not before this: The Sartre comic book went out of print immediately because it didn’t matter.
      6 hours ago · Like · 5
    • Stephen Hicks The Kant comic book was phenomenal.
      6 hours ago · Unlike · 5
    • Virginia Murr See what you started, Marsha!  Hilarious, gentlemen.
      6 hours ago · Like · 1

I have no shortage of philosophy, economics, and political science books sitting here in my home office. If you know me, even casually, then it won’t surprise you to know that most of them are about rationalism, personal responsibility, individualism, and free market economic systems. You know: A shelf on Mises, every book by my guru Robert Nozick, a bunch of Rothbard, some David Kelley – books like that.

Then, of course, there is the other side of the room, which houses the 3 shelves of books on Judaism.  Here is my Stiensaltz Talmud; my book of Hebrew Ethical Wills; a bunch of Buber, Rozenzweig, and Heschel; some siddurs; and most of the other things you’d expect.

Now…. the Jewish books and the other books I mentioned are indeed, on opposite ends of the room. This is because (even though the whole foundation of the Classical Reform movement in Judaism proposes to be rooted on integrating Judaism and enlightenment rationalism), I just don’t think that rationalism and religion mix. Stephen Jay Gould tried to let that be okay by simply calling them “non-overlapping magisteria”, but I don’t buy it. Never the less, I keep them apart.

Then, though, there is this funny little bookshelf that, but for a couple books by Umberto Eco and another book on semiotics, is devoted entirely to……………….. Roland Barthes.

Now… I’m not supposed to like Barthes. He’s not Jewish and he is about as Socialist as those post-enlightenment French philosophers come. You’d think that a guy who likes Barthes would have some books by Rousseau, and Kant, and Marx, and Lyotard, and Derrida, and Foucault. But, I don’t.  So, as a good self-conscious examiner of life, I have to ask myself : “why Barthes”?

I was introduced to Barthes in College (no shit). I had a linguistics professor who used “Mythologies” as the primary text for a course. Thinking I was supposed to be studying linguistics, I didn’t get “Mythologies” at all. Then I remembered I was in an art school, taking a class from someone who’s primary interest was in 20Th Century writing. That explained it all! This wasn’t going to be about phonemes, it was going to be about philosophies of LANGUAGE.

There is a whole group of thinkers out there who I don’t really respect because I can’t understand what the hell they are talking about. This obviously included Derrida and Foucault. Admittedly, this lack of comprehension may be my own fault – after all I’m not a philosopher. But, I need to give myself a little more credit than that. After all, I understand Nozick, and Popper, and even Habermas, just fine. So, it’s not that I’m too stupid to understand Foucault. It’s that I can’t bring my mind to believe that reality changes depending on the language with which you express it. I don’t get it and I basically don’t feel like trying. Once Nozick wrote “Invariances” I did not need to figure anthing else out. I had my philosophy.

But Barthes? Barthes??? Barthes is all about language.Why don’t I hate him? Why do I love his writing? The answer comes down to this:

“That is why childhood is the royal road by which we know a country best. Ultimately, there is no Country but childhood’s.” L’humanite 1977

“The pleasure of the text is that moment when my body pursues its own ideas – for my body does not have the same ideas I do”. “The Pleasure of the Text 1975

“… language is a kind of natural ambiance wholly pervading the writer’s expression, yet without endowing it with form or content: it is, as it were, an abstract circle of truths, outside of which alone the solid residue of an individual ‘logos’ begins to settle.” Writing Degree Zero” 1953

“These same photographs, which phenomenology would call “ordinary” objects, were merely analogical, provoking only her identity, not her truth, but the Winter Garden Photograph was indeed essential, it achieved for me, utopically, the impossible science of the unique being.” Camera Lucida 1981

You can barely even pick up a book by Barthes, open it to a random page, and find something other than an amazingly beautiful use of the language he so loves. Admittedly, the English translations are something less than their French original sources. After all you simply have no English word that means what the French word ” jouissance” means. We English speakers are just not cool enough to come up with a single word, usable in polite company, that means “I get so much pleasure out of this that I think I’m having an orgasm”> Only French can give us that!!! None the less, even translated, I can’t read Barthes (even when I disagree with him or can’t quite figure out what he’s saying) without smiling. Smiling; because Barthes so loves language that he makes everything he says into a perfect art object.

I think of Barthes writing like I think of Antonioni’s film making. You may get bored watching L’Avventura; you may think it’s plot is slow; but you can’t argue with the amazing fact that every single frame in the entire film is a perfectly composed photograph. I watch that film, time and again, for it’s visual jouissance 🙂 It’s just perfect in its beauty.  To me, that is exatly the same with Barthes writing. Every word = perfection.

Sometimes I read Barthes and I get so much pleasure out of it that I think I’m having…………………