July 9, 2013

A cultivation of the low, the common and the near

After unpacking some of my boxes of books yesterday, I found a few old issues of Believer magazine that I had bought at a library sale some years back.


I took one of them with me to bed last night and started reading an interview with philosopher, Simon Critchley. I was very tired and fell asleep before finishing it but I thoroughly enjoyed the bits I did read. For example, here is a short excerpt:

Q: So God or other universal or absolute ideas cannot offer answers to the question of the meaning of life, and thus any answer has to come from within human life, which is finite and capable of error. What kind of answer can that be?

Simon Critchley: Well, the answer is given in the question. The only answer to the question of the meaning of life has to begin from the fact of our human finitude, of our vulnerability and our fallibility. ....The formulation that I use in my book is “the acceptance of meaninglessness as the achievement of the everyday or the ordinary.” What I mean by that is that once we’ve accepted that the meaning of life is ours to make, we make meaning. Then we accept that we live in a situation, or, rather, that we inherit a situation of meaninglessness, and out of that meaninglessness we create meaning in relationship to the ordinariness of our common existence. I try to argue for a cultivation of the low, the common and the near—the everyday—as that in relationship to which we can make a meaning out of the meaninglessness of our existence.

There are many other quotable quotes in the interview, like Critchley talking about Nietzche and nihilism and about injustice in the world and being "deeply pessimistic about the present situation" and yet "not luxuriating in a dispirited bath of nihilism" and about how "philosophy begins in the experience of political disappointment, the fact of injustice. In the face of that fact, one can create. Ethically, legally. One can try and do something." and so on....  but instead of quoting excerpts here, you can read the interview in its entirety at the Believer website. (Thanks for not archiving this behind a paywall, Believer magazine!)

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