"Judgments, judgments of value, concerning life, for it, or against it, can, in the end, never be true: they have value only as symptoms, they are worthy of consideration only as symptoms; in themselves such judgments are stupidities. One must by all means stretch out one’s fingers, and make the attempt to grasp this amazing finesse, that the value of life cannot be estimated."

Nietzsche, 'The Twilight of the Idols'

....and in that instant his liver grew 5 times its size (due to his constant need to anesthetize).
The Grunch said, " Good! No more of this, that, or other fellow. Plus I'm now a lovely shade of yellow. " - Dr. Seuss's "The Grunch Who Stole My Liquor Cabinet"

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The dyed ostrich egg marking his tomb had rolled across the lawn.
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William BARRETT, 'Irrational Man' (1958)
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William Barrett was an American philosophy professor and writer who died in 1992.

He was well known for writing philosophical works for nonexperts. These include 'Irrational Man' and 'The Illusion of Technique'.

Barrett's Law is named for him: "not everyone who might read the productions of scholarly writers is an expert in the fields discussed".
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The book 'Irrational Man' gives a look at the situation of man and philosophy in the middle of the 20th century then outlines the historical background against which this situation must be understood and moves on to a view of four philosophers (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre) who have given explicit formulation to the issues implicit in that history.

"We open our eyes in the morning, and the world opens before us. We do not reflect enough on what happens in this simple act of seeing – namely, that the world opens around us as we see. This open-ness, or standing open, of the world must always be given, even for the most humble human existent, whose mind might be quite devoid of ideas and who might claim no specifically intellectual understanding of the world at all."
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Dino Buzzati-Traverso (1906–1972)
was an Italian writer as well as a journalist. He was an acclaimed and exhibited artist as well. He also combined his artistic and writerly exploits into making a comic book.

The Tartar Steppe, (Il deserto dei Tartari)
is his most famous novel. It was first published in Italian in 1940.
It is a powerful existential novel, a meditation on life and death, hope, self-delusion, and need for glory ; the passing of time, and life as so much of a 'waiting phenomenon' for humans.

The novel tends to remind one of Kafka but Buzzati has his own very distinctive voice, a beautiful and poetical style enhanced by the way he describes a haunting landscape (probably comes from his artist's eye) or a human life.

A 1976 film adaptation was made from it.
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"But it seemed as if Drogo’s existence had come to a halt. The same day, the same things, had repeated themselves hundreds of times without taking a step forward. The river of time flowed over the Fort, crumbled the walls, swept down dust and fragments of stone, wore away the stairs and the chain, but over Drogo it passed in vain- it had not yet succeeded in catching him, bearing him with it as it flowed.”
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"Meanwhile time was slipping past, beating life out silently and with ever increasing speed; there is no time to halt even for a second, not even for a glance behind. "Stop, stop," one feels like crying, but then one sees it is useless. Everything goes by-men, the seasons, the clouds, and there is no use clinging to the stones, no use fighting it out on some rock in mid- stream; the tired fingers open, the arms fall back inertly and you are still dragged into the river, the river which seems to flow so slowly yet never stops."
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"Time has slipped by so quickly, that his heart has not had a chance to grow old"
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For some more and longer quotes in French. See here

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Here's something you may like. Or not. Immanuel Kant but I kould.
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Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
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"How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next."
– Danusha Laméris
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Lee Braver, Groundless Grounds (2014)
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While the grounds of all thinking lack the kind of foundation philosophers have long dreamt of, and thus are groundless, they still function as grounds for finite creatures like us.
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When detached contemplation fails to yield a clear answer we are astonished, both at our present ignorance and at our former competent use, suddenly rendered mysterious.
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Heidegger's conception of philosophy differs in many ways from Wittgenstein's, including his estimation of its worth. Where Wittgenstein both early and late would like to consign it to the dustbin of history as a nest of confusions, Heidegger considers philosphy « one of the few great things of humanity. » Rather than an artificial break from or meddling interloper in our normal lives, philosophy represents the highest expression and culmination of our very way of being. Heidegger no less than Wittgenstein aims to dissolve pseudo-problems, but this task exhausts Wittgenstein's project whose success, early and late, is defined as the cessation of philosophical questioning, whereas Heidegger regards this step as the preliminary clearing of the ground for something more important to take root.
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« But now notice this : while I am being guided everything is quite simple, I notice nothing special ; but afterwards, when I ask myself what it was that happened, it seems to have been something indescribable. Afterwards, no description satisfies me. It's as if I couldn't believe that I merely looked, made such-and-such a face, and drew a line. - But don't I remember anything else ? No ; and yet I feel as if there must have been something else ; in particular when I say « guidance », « influence »,and other such words to myself. « For surely, » I tell myself, « I was being guided. » - Only then does the idea of that ethereal, intangible influence arise. »
Wittgenstein, 'Philosophical Investigations'
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We appeal to the queer not because it can be found in our experience, but precisely because it cannot.
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We move from the fact that no description satisfies to the positing of something indescribable.
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«We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place... The problems are solved, not by reporting new experience, but by arranging what we have always known. Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.»
Wittgenstein, 'Philosophical Investigations'
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In other words, skepticism is a fake problem that must be dis-solved by restoring us to our normal, seamless state of being-in-the-world, rather than solved by bridging an illusory gap between inner and outer realms.
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Reconciling ourselves to what does happen rather than trying to coerce what should happen, releases us from misery ; as tautologous as it sounds, appreciating that « 'everything is what it is and not another thing' » is the inexpressible (for how could it be any other way?) essence of ethics. This tranquil acceptance of all that is the case is embodied in the totality of true propositions which mirror, untroubled, the world as a limited whole.
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Wittgenstein is fascinated with experiences that offer tastes of this Schopenhauer absorption in those moments we dwell entirely in the present when something completely fills our attention. These tiny, perfectly shaped droplets of eternity yield a kind of quasi-immortality, a momentary suspension of care, time even. One then identifies not with the little metal top hat on the game board, but with the transcendental self who knows we're playing with fake money, who neither suffers nor prospers since she knows that no state-of-affairs affects it. The aim of Wittgenstein's early philosophy is to show this self, trapped in the world as in a fly-bottle, the way out.
This is genuine ethics, as transcendent as logic. Just as a tautology's lack of content about the way things are lets logic shine through, so emptying the will of all preferences for how things should be allows us to wonder that the world is at all. This change, not in actions, but in attitude, makes our world a happy one without altering its contents in any way. Indeed, just as it is the cessation from asking philosophical questions that is their answer, it is the very refraining from attempts to alter its contents that makes the world that of the happy man, the one who accepts whatever happens to him the way a tautology will « admit all possible situations ». The logical tautology « it is either raining or not raining » gives no information about the weather, and the happy man has no preference come rain or come shine. It may rain on the just and unjust alike but, in light of their differing attitudes, the same rain does not befall them both.
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The two thinkers warn us of intrinsic tendencies running in opposite directions – Wittgenstein worries about our identifying ourselves too much with our individual projects and wellbeing, whereas Heidegger thinks that we have a predisposition to lose sight of our individuality, to blend in with the crowd.
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The call of conscience does pull us out of the unthinking maintenance of our lives, but not to anywhere else, for the simple reason that there is nowhere else to go.
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One of the features we discover is that we are entirely of this world.
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While there are no « correct » choices, yearning for transcendence is a wrong one , since it conflicts with our very being.
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«One must remember that all the phenomena that now trike us as so remarkable are the very familiar phenomena that don't surprise us in the least when they happen. They don't strike usas remarkable until we put them in a strange light by philosophizing.»
Wittgenstein, 'Philosophical Grammar'
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When we find ourselves getting excited over, say, how mindscan affect and be affected by physical bodies, we should induce in ourselves an overtly artificial case of perplexity over a wholly uninteresting phenomenon. This will demonstrate how easy it is to create this experience, and thus how little it means. In effect, Wittgenstein is trying to disenchant enchantment itself. We should greet the topics that have inspired two and a half millennia of philosophizing with the nonchalant shrug with which we note other idiosyncrasies, like assiociating colors with particular vowels. Despite their impressive sound and fury, such facts signify nothing – after all, « one can construct an atmosphere to attach to anything » - thus helping us « pass from a piece of disguised nonsense to something that is patent nonsense. » (PI)
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«The questions « What is length ?, » « What is meaning ?, » « What is the number one ?, » etc., produce in us a mental cramp. We feel that we can't point to anything in reply to them and yet ought to point to something. (We are up against one of the great sources of philosophical bewilderment : a substantive makes us look for a thing that corresponds to it).»
Wittgenstein, 'The Blue and Brown Books'
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What had been a part of a living breathing world has now « dwindled to an unrecognizable fragment » lying beached, immobilized, once the vital medium of use has receded. Philosophical analysis distorts what it seeks to understand, precisely by its attempt to understand it.
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This solution makes sense given that many received philosophical problems are artificial products of the philosophical attitude.
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A given word's potential ambiguity did not attract my notice when I said it but now, retrospectively, it baffles me and threatens the very determinacy of my speech. Since I had no doubts or hesitations while speaking, I must have performed an act of meaning to nail down which sense I intended. Although I remember no such act, the queer entities and actions that populate philosophical theories now crowd insistently into my thoughts as ways to fill in the newly discovered gaps.
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We desperately want to believe that we are not what our drab surroundings say we are, just another mundane person trying to eke out a life.
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Both Heidegger and Wittgenstein contrast our unreflective engaged activity with philosophical reflection upon this activity after the fact. The former tacitly knows how to use tools and words but has trouble putting this masteryinto words, whereas the latter only recognizes articulate statements of fact. (…) Much of Heidegger and the later Wittgenstein's work confronts reason's misguided and impossible demands with our easy performance of mundane actions in order to expose these expectations as inappropriate and unnecessary.
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Holistic semantics explains why removing words from their customary language-games creates insoluble pseudo-problems, what most of us call philosophy.
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One simply tends to forget that even doubting belongs to a language-game.
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This kind of disengaged scrutinity « when we merely stare at something » has long been prized as our best access to true reality, but Heidegger argues that it covers over the more primordial and common web of significance we move in most of the time, which is what he is trying to return us to.
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We are closer to Aristophane's half-people – forever searching for something missing, so destitute that we do not even know what we are missing.
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For the most part we respond to what J. J. Gibson calls « solicitations » from the environment with little to no conscious thought. We don't interpret ; we react, letting our feet find their footing without any supervision from an inner homunculus. Wittgenstein doesn't deny that explicit thinking ever happens, of course, but he does deny that it always does or that it must happen for understanding to take place. « If I say, 'Talk to me and observe yourself,' you find nothing at all. You say there must be something – but there is only the 'must.' » We insist on finding inner events alongside outward behavior only because disengaged contemplation demands it.
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What we find when we look at our average everydayness with an open mind is that Dasein is first and for the most part an engaged actor in the world, a user of tools rather than detached theoretician. Philosophical examination almost inevitably misses this inconspicuous way of being-in-the-world.
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In general, Heidegger suggests, we don't lead our lives ; we follow. We experience our distinct identity as a later development which arises out of uncomfortable instances when one doesn't mesh smoothly with others. It is when we stand out from the crowd – misinterpreting the phrase, « fancy dress party », say – that we become « self-conscious », moments that gradually accrete into a self-consciousness that philosophers retroactively slip into all experience.
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Immediate reactions are both logically and chronologically primary in the sense « that this sort of behaviour is pre-linguistic : that a language-game is based on it, that it is the prototype of a way of thinking and not the result of thought.
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« The difficult thing here is not, to dig down to the ground ; no, it is to recognize the ground that lies before us as the ground. For the ground keeps on giving us the illusory image of a greater depth, and when we seek to reach this, we keep on finding ourselves on the old level. Our disease is one of wanting to explain. »
Wittgenstein, 'Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics'
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Mathematics and grammar are inventions, not discoveries.
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As Sextus Empiricus pointed out long ago, no party can claim a privileged or neutral perspective without relying on a particular way of thinking to legitimate their way of thinking, which thus compromises their alleged neutrality.
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While no specific choice corresponds to our nature, a certain way of choosing does : making our decisions in the anxious awareness that there are no right answers. The problem is that the acknowledgment that there is no right answer is the right answer, due to the fact that it is what fits the nature of our existence.
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"We have determined truth as the manifestness of beings, by virtue of which we are fitted and bound in that which is. We have disawoved an absolute truth. That does not mean, however, that we advocate the thesis of an only relative truth; relativity is merely arbitrariness. The rejection of the standpoint of the absolute truth means, at the same time, the rejection of all relations between absolute and relative. If one can not speak in this sense of an absolute truth, neither can one speak of relative truth."
Heidegger, 'Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language'
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« Being … offers us a reliance whose reliability cannot be surpassed anywhere. And yet Being offers us no ground and no basis – as beings do – to which we can turn, on which we can build, and to which we can cling. Being is the rejection of the role of such grounding : it renounces all grounding, is abyssal.
Heidegger, 'Nietzsche'
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As what determines rationality itself, « it is not based on grounds. It is not reasonable (or unreasonable). It is there – like our life. »
Wittgenstein, 'On Certainty'
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Had Leibniz taken this next step, he would have realized that the principle's demand that everything have a reason « immediately propels us into groundlessness » since following the principle all the way requires a reason for the principle itself.
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This is the paradox at the heart of our epoch : our drive toward autonomously determining ourselves is itself assigned to us ; the injunction that we not rely on any ideas that we merely find rather than actively create is itself merely found to be important. We find this project reasonable and desirable, we dont' decide that it is ; earlier epochs would have found the same project incomprehensible or hubristic or mad. Thus, while Heidegger cannot label any understanding wrong, he does find an internal inconsistency in technology. We take ourselves to be completely in control of our thought and our machinery, but we cannot control, nor could we have created, this vast project of taking control of ourselves and nature.
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« Forgetting » about being lets us take the credit for our actions and thoughts all the way down, fostering an illusion of absolute mastery which then gets reinforced by our technological might. With a subtle nudge, however, this image of total mastery inverts into an acknowledgment of our utter dependence, both on being-sent this technological way of thinking and on nature's cooperation.
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As Heidegger puts it at one point, the abyss serves as a ground for mortals to stand and walk upon.
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« When I am convinc'd of any principle, 'tis only an idea which strikes more strongly upon me. When I give preference to one set of arguments above another, I do nothing but decide from my feeling concerning the superiority of their influence. »
David Hume, 'A Treatise of Human Nature'
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«Men will scarce ever be persuaded, that effects of such consequence can flow from principles, which are seemingly so inconsiderable, and that the far greatest part of our reasonings, with all our actions and passions, can be deriv'd from nothing but custom and habit.»
David Hume, 'A Treatise of Human Nature'
Downgrading humans from just beneath angels to barely above animals outrages most philosophical self-conceptions.
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We must make peace with our all-too-human limitations and accept the fact that we have to stop at unjustified instincts so deeply entrenched in us that any attempt to justify them must perforce rely upon them. In other words, one « cannot defend his reason by reason » (Human Treatise). Every inquiry stops at a bedrock of basic principles and brute facts that cannot themselves be accounted for.
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«When we see, that we have arrived at the utmost extent of human reason, we sit down contented ; tho' we be perfectly satisfied in the main of our ignorance and perceive that we can give no reason for our most general and most refined principles, beside our experience of their reality... And as this impossibility of making any farther progress is enough to satisfy the reader, so the writer may derive a more delicate satisfaction from the free confession of his ignorance, and from his prudence in avoiding that error, into whch so many have fallen, of imposing their conjectures and hypotheses on the world for the most certain principles. When this mutual contentment and satisfaction can be obtained betwixt master and scholar, I know not what more we can require of our philosphy.»
David Hume, 'A Treatise of Human Nature'
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« The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to. - The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself in question »
Wittgenstein, 'Philosophica Investigations'
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« Since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of back-gammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends ; and when after three or four hour's amusement, I wou'd return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther. »
David Hume, 'A Treatise of Human Nature'
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« Be a philosopher ; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man. »
David Hume, 'Enquiries...'
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In other words, our instinct-guided reasoning is a groundless ground : it enables us to think successfully (as we measure success) but admits of no justification itself. The point of philosophy is not to teach us esoteric lessons about the transcendent meaning of reality, but to know when it is time to stop seeking such lessons.
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For the latter Wittgenstein, we must try to see things the way they are, stopping our ears to philosphy's siren song of how they ought to be or even how they must be, regardless of overwhelming experiential evidence. Philosophers have been mesmerized by the ideal, and under its spell have propped up retrospective reconstructions of the real that filter out all countermanding evidence as illusory or accidental.
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« Finitude is not some property that is merely attached to us, but is our fundamental way of being. If we wish to become what we are, we cannot abandon this finitude or deceive ourselves about it, but must safeguard it. »
Heidegger, 'The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics'
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We must keep at this /making all of our thinking and acting bear the stamp of our finitude/, despite an intrinsic dissatisfaction with our mortal condition : « every human being has a strong natural desire and drive to become something else and more. » (Kierkegaard)
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The threat of nihilism only appears once philosophers have switched to theoretical contemplation, once they « are, so to speak, fascinated by the radical division between Being and value, and do not notice that they have only theoretically broken the bridges between the two spehres, and now stand helpless on one of the banks.
Heidegger, 'Towards the Definition of Philosophy'
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We have « leapt, out of the familiar realm of science and even, as we shall see, out of the realm of philosophy. And where have we leapt ? Perhaps into an abyss ? No ! … On that soil upon which we live and die, if we are honest with ourselves. A curious, indeed unearthly thing that we must first leap onto the soil on which we really stand. »
Heidegger, 'What is Called Thinking'
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The solution to nihilism is to realize how artificial it is, how pervasively ideas and people and things solicit our actions. We don't need to figure out how to inject values into a gray landscape ; our lives are flooded with Technicolor.
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As the Stoics emphasized, apatheia toward my worldly fate gives me a strange kind of mastery over that fate : if I fear nothing, no one can force me to do anything ; if I want nothing, nothing can make me unhappy.
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« I cannot bend the happenings of the world to my will : I am completely powerless. I can only make myself independent of the world – and so in a certain sense master it – by renouncing any influence on happenings »
Wittgenstein, 'Notebooks'
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The philosopher who knows the essence of language can never be surprised.
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« Rational living beings must first become mortals. » (Heidegger, 'Poetry, Language, Thoughts') We must accept that there are fundamental limits to our understanding – not limits that can be definitely surveyed and used to master a limited whole, but brute facts that do not yield to comprehension. The very fact that we are alive, and that we live as humans, « stares /us/ in the face with the inexorability of an enigma. » (Heidegger, 'Being and Time') For Heidegger, our being open to experiencing anything at all is ultimately contingent and gratuitous, which should fill us with awestruck gratitude. We should celebrate and protect this deepest possible mystery from attempts to ground it which are inevitably futile and which, more importantly, exileus from the space of wonder. Wittgenstein wants to eradicate wonder, it is true, but this is because he believes that it tempts us beyond ourselves, seducing us toward an airless space outside world and time : « all that philosophy can do is to destroy idols. And that means not creating a new one – for instance as in 'absence of an idol' (Wittgenstein, 'Philosophical Occasions'). Ultimately, the later Heidegger and Wittgenstein are alike trying to let us live and think as humans, at last.


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