Isn’t this sad? – “Time Clipping Cupid’s Wings”(1694), oil on canvas by Pierre Mignard
Socrates might have been taking into account the ability of those closest to us to hurt us the most, as well as love us the best, when he formulated his symmetric ethic: you have a capacity to do a certain amount of good, which is always accompanied by the ability to do a similar amount of evil. “I only wish it were so, Crito, that the many could do the greatest evil; for then they would also be able to do the greatest good—and what a fine thing this would be!”-Socrates If you came to see me, I might discuss Kierkegaard’s thoughts on coping with death, Ayn Rand’s ideas on the virtue of selfishness, or Aristotle’s advice to pursue reason and moderation in all things. We might look into decision theory, the I Ching (Book of Changes), or Kant’s theory of obligation. Some people like the authoritative approach of Hobbes, for example, while others respond to a more intuitive approach, like Lao Tzu’s. We might explore their philosophies in depth…We are especially vulnerable when we are low on faith, knowledge or confidence, as so many of us are who feel we can’t find all the answers in religion or in science. Throughout this century, a widening abyss has opened beneath us as, religion has retreated, science has advanced, and meaning has expired. Most of us don’t see the abyss until we haven in into. Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody, only that, some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
“People’s dreams should be either crazy or unreal. Otherwise, these are nothing but plans for tomorrow!”
(Today, I heard this philosophy about life. Wonderful isn’t it?) ❤️
“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose—a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” —MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT A great philosophical plague of the twentieth century, sure to tail us into the millennium, is widespread feelings of personal pointlessness. So many people are without a firm sense of purpose or meaning in their lives that the lack has come to seem normal. But few live happily that way. We’re generally not satisfied with the idea that our lives and our world are completely accidental and without rhyme or reason. The further we look in that direction without finding any other explanation, the harder it is to bear. The existentialists are only partly to blame. They were so cool— hanging out on the Left Bank, smoking cigarettes, thinking deep thoughts, scribbling philosophy and poetry on napkins and tablecloths. The existentialists truly excelled at making it look romantic to kill off God and step into the abyss. A lot of people dip into existentialism, conclude that life is pointless, and wonder why, if that is so, they should bother with anything. Here’s my favorite argument to stop that slide into existential depression: If life as we know it is indeed a fantastically unlikely accident, all the more reason to appreciate it. If we come from nothingness and will return to nothingness, I say let’s spend the time we have celebrating the very some-thingness of life. Our time here is precious—literally irreplaceable. So: live authentically! The catch there is that you have to figure out what living authentically means to you, but one thing it surely implies is engagement with—not withdrawal from—life itself. Use your free will to choose renewed appreciation of every moment rather than despair.