Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Following the script ...

... Surprise! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To be modern is to be torn in two. We celebrate freedom as if we can do anything we want, if we put our minds to it. At the same time, we bemoan the way our genes, our childhood, and social forces determine everything we do. When we grow bald, lose our temper, or get laid off, experts tell us that we really have no choice in the matter. Life is preordained by factors that outflank our feeble will. Yet at the same time we celebrate will power as if everything is contingent and subject to our control. The decline of providence has left us intellectually schizophrenic. We define freedom as the opposite of submission and obedience but end up feeling hardly free at all.

On the other hand, there is Lev Shestov's view: THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF LEV SHESTOV.

He was struck by the force of necessity over human life, which begets the terrors of life. The vulgar forms of necessity did not interest him, but rather the more subtle forms. The force of irreversible necessity has been idealised by philosophers, as reason and morals, as self-evident and generally-observed truths. Necessity is begotten by knowing. L. Shestov is completely caught up by this thought, that the Fall into sin is connected with knowledge, with the knowledge of good and evil. Man ceases to be nourished off the tree of life and begins to be nourished off the tree of knowledge. And L. Shestov struggles against the force of knowledge, which makes man subject under the law, in the name of the liberation of life. ... Shestov is not at all against scientific knowledge, he is not against reason in everyday life. ... He was against the pretensions of science and reason to decide questions about God, about the liberation of man from the tragic anguish of human judgement, wherein reason and rational knowledge want to circumscribe potentiality. God first of all is limitless potentialities, and this is a basic definition of God. God is not bound by any sort of truths of necessity.

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