Ponderous Questions? (Ponderous Questions)


Haggis McBagpipe
#1
Do you believe in fate? (unlike our yes and no game thread, please elaborate with your answer!)
 
Numure
#2
Faith?
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#3
Predestination; do you believe that our lives are basically mapped out by some higher power, that we have no real control over what happens to us?
 
Diamond Sun
#4
Fate, destiny, karma, kismet, predestination....I'm not sure. I don't think my life is laid out for me in that my choices have already been made.

Wouldn't it be frustrating to live a life that is already set out for you. You wouldn't be able to take pride in accomplishments, or puzzle over decisions for hours because it really wouldn't be your accomplishments or your decisions.

Nope, I don't believe in Fate, and I don't think I even like the idea of fate. It's so...fatalistic.
 
Numure
#5
I don't believe in fate either. I feel, I have control over my life. I could, at any second, decide to kill my gf. I don't. Even though I could, easily get a knife, and do it. It isnt fate, its just the values we are thought that drive us.
 
Reverend Blair
#6
I fully believe in fate. I believe that I make my own to soem extent, that others contribute and that I contribute to theirs. I also know that that things that have happened in the past, sometimes distant, related and unrelated to me, contribute to my fate.

In other words...It ain't my fault unless I never tried to fix it.
 
peapod
#7
If fate means you to lose, give him a good fight anyhow. ~William McFee
 
Lisa
#8
There is the thread we' ve all been waiting for.
Fate is an interesting thing to discuss. As i said before the one man that could get me thinking on this subject is Jean Paul Sarte.

( He says that every person is free, because your conscious can negate. You are free in everything, and your destiny is controlled by yourself, because you have to make your own choices. The only thing we are not free in is the fact that we are free, because that is a fact that is undisputable.)

And is said here, I feel that I have the opportunity to make choices. However I feel that here is a downside to it. When I watched the soccer matches this week (It is the Euro 2004), I felt muyself gaian a subject to Murphy's Law. Many of the important goals that were made, I missed for one the reason or the other. I cannot explain it, it seems as if I just were not supposed to see it.

I have that lots of times. Just when I cannot need it, something happens. As if someone is playing with me.
As I am Dutch, i am very down-to-earth, so I try not to be bothered by it too much.

Does this happen to you as well? Or am I the only one that thinks this?

(Ow and American Voice: We did not discuss Kierkegaard in our classes, but i heard vaguely about him, what was his view? Do you find it "believable"?)
 
American Voice
#9
Soren Kierkegaard was a minister in the Reformed Church, in Denmark. He was not a particularly spiritual man, that is, not until his beloved young wife died.

I will leave it there, for the moment. I haven't thought about him in detail for quite some time. This takes me back a few years. Let me think about it, and I'll come back. I have claimed this frame for this purpose.

The Dutch are "down-to-earth?" From what I hear, many of you are below sea level.

---------------------------------------------
Okay, finished with breakfast.

I thought about it, and the best idea I came up with was to take a walk over to the Games, Yes or No (which is where this thread got started) and copied something from there onto my clipboard:

This question may be darker than is appropriate for this particular thread, but it's one I have pondered many years: what remains when the will to live is relinquished? (I should add that I once suffered a nervous breakdown. When I found myself at the bottom in the pit of Hell, inscribed on the wall there were the words I have for my motto, which is my signature here.)

Addendum: I should phrase the question so as to elicit a Yes or No reply, okay. That's the rule.

Do you believe we have a soul; a vital essence that sustains life, without compromising the integrity of conscious free will?

In his grief over the death of his wife, Kierkegaard contemplated suicide. He even went so far as to load his pistol. He didn't do it. I still have the .22 caliber bullet that I didn't use. I had rehearsed the act, tested the weapon, scheduled the time. Muzzle against the sternum. Splinter the bone. Shred the heart. I was within about seven seconds, when. . .Death said, "Not today." There was no actual voice, no hallucination; that's only a characterization. What was it sustained me? One thought comes to mind, from one of the Epistles: "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

My attitude toward religion is this: to see beyond it, one first has to rise to it. Jesus came preaching an end of religion, and within two generations, his teaching was turned into a religion.

Kierkegaard's philosophy was something I read as a student. I didn't understand it until I had the experience, as he had done. Philosophy isn't, in my opinion, about answers. Philosophy is an attitude, a reflective disposition.

Haggis, is this what you had in mind?
 
Lisa
#10
Wow! You've been through quite something. And I agree with the fact that philosophy is not about answers. You will not get answers, it is indeed about an attitude. How you will live your life and how you will look at life in general (among others).

I will be careful about saying something about religion. My parents always gave me the opportunity to find my own faith, I explored the Christian faith when I was younger but it was not, and would not be part of my life.

I do not have the need to search for such a person at this point in my life (and yes, I know I am still young).

American Voice, from what you tell I find Kierkegaard interesting because he came up with the philosophy out of practical necessityp; that is to say, he wanted to commit suicide but could not.

And indeed what happens when you die? Is there an afterlife and will it be any better than this life?

As Hamlet says in one of his famous soliloquys:

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 't is nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 't is a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream; ay, there's the
rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause."
 
American Voice
#11
Your post and your citation of Hamlet's soliloquoy remind me of two songs by Loudon Wainwright III, and American singer/songwriter. He has one of the finest minds I know.

"Dreaming," on the 1995 release Grown Man

He also covers it on his 2003 live album, So Damn Happy I recommend that because of the title track. It has one of the sweetest guitar duets I have ever heard, Loudon and Lil' Davey Mansfield. Very sweet.

The other song is "Bed," on the 2001 release Last Man On Earth

Loudon writes a lot about his life; his parents, his siblings, his wives and lovers, his children. He is a unique talent. Intensely personal and introspective. A social critic sometimes. A humorist. I didn't care for him when I was younger, but now that I am more mature, I appreciate his work. He's a brilliant lyricist.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by American Voice

what remains when the will to live is relinquished?

Haggis, is this what you had in mind?

Yes! I very much like the way this thread is moving.

American Voice, your question intrigues. Can we ever really know when our will to live has been extinguished? We might think it has, but our minds are powerful and complex, our conscious thoughts do not necessarily reflect the reality, our will to live or lack thereof.

I think when the will to live is truly extinguished (as opposed to our thinking it has) the person will die soon thereafter.
 
researchok
#13
Fate, destiny and faith.

I believe in fate-- but I also believe that we can create our own destinies by the choices we make. I have faith in my moral compass, that the choices I make will be the best I can make at the time. I also have faith that I lack enough ego, so as to easily change direction, should the need arise.

Haggis-- and to all who have posted-- I have a question.

Existentialism and fate-- are they mutually exclusive? Or can fate exist in an environment of randomness?
 
American Voice
#14
Haggis, yes, this really hits the spot. I have been guilty of mental sloth for a while now, and I find this thread stimulating in a very healthy way. I'm exercising my concentration. I feel focussed.

I recall reading Calvin and Zwingli some time ago. My impression of Calvin's notion of predestination I think might be more aptly represented by the word "predetermination." Calvin had an intuitive sense of what he would today call genetic predisposition. Nuture goes along with that, as well. Back in the 70's, Calvin would have been called a social engineer. Although, the term sociologist might be more appropriate. I don't have the sense he was aggressive; dominant, yes, but not aggressive.

I think Calvinism has gotten a bad press. Likewise, the Puritans. My Quaker ancestors have been misunderstood--what they were about. I don't do near the reading I used to do, but I recall how it deepened my appreciation of the world to have some notion of how we have evolved as a civilization. For example, you may not choose to profess Christianity, but it is good to have a thorough understanding of what has undeniably had such a formative influence, underpinning our legal system with notions of family, society, authority, inheritance, contracts, etc. I never regret my reading of history.

Back to the question: I like it when seemingly contrary notions reveal themselves as aspects of a common reality; like particles and waves are the product of two different ways of measuring the same thing, viz., light. I believe we are in large part--though not entirely--predisposed in how we respond to the randomness. It makes us predictable. It makes society possible. If I go over to my friend's house, I pretty much know what to expect. This is what makes courtship such a wonderful adventure, the discovery of the other person. And yet, people will always surprise you. Is that responsive to the question?
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#15
Research quote:

>>Existentialism and fate-- are they mutually exclusive? Or can fate exist in an environment of randomness?

Research, interesting point. I think fate could exist in an environment of perceived randomness. Is there order in chaos? Yes.

American Voice quote:

>>For example, you may not choose to profess Christianity, but it is good to have a thorough understanding of what has undeniably had such a formative influence.

Very wise, very true. An understanding of Christianity gives us many keys to a deeper understanding of our nature. The myriad of different world religions, with their similar underlying ideologies, proves our common thread. I think to study the thread of similarities found in all religions is to see a snapshot of human nature at its most elemental level.
 
researchok
#16
Actually Haggis, I'm on the same page.

I believe in the 'order of chaos'. That belief is biblical in origin (or, inspiration, if one is not a believer)-- that God created a world out of chaos. That is to say, that the 'natural' state was chaos and that His Creation (us) was to put a sense of order in that chaos.

Inasmuch as we are 'created in His image', I believe that, we too, have as a part of our 'purpose', to create an order (read:meaning) out of our lives.

This is a great thread.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#17
Can humans function without the belief that there is a purpose? Are we capable of not believing in anything? Even atheism is a belief, for unless it is perfectly established that god does not exist, atheism remains a belief. Can a human truly not believe in anything at all?

Why do we rarely think of this most profound aspect of being alive, that of knowing whether there is a purpose to it?

Is it all futile in the end? For purpose or not, one day the human race will end, life on earth will end, the sun will die, and although we might accept this on an intellectual level, do we ever come even close to accepting it in our hearts? How much of the way we live our lives is affected by this dark understanding ?
 
researchok
#18
Haggis, I believe the answer to your question is simple.

Religions are also ideas.

Hence, a belief in an ideal (l) will suffice.
 
American Voice
#19
DS initialized a thread on the topic of karma. I am taking the liberty here of interjecting the post I made there. What Haggis asked about purpose in life put me in mind of it.

It is my understanding that karma is first discussed as such in the Mahabaratha. Arjuna is hesitant--well, more frozen with anxiety about the great battle in which he is about to lead the forces of the Pandabar. He is counseled by Lord Krisna, who tells him, essentially, that all consequences of action are unintended. There is only purity in inaction, or non-action. But in life, one has to act, has to choose, has to accept the compromise of one's purity. To do otherwise is vain. Who was it said evil triumphs when good men fail to act. Krisna's explication of this is that portion of the Mahabaratha known separately as the Baghavad Gita. I'm no scholar, but I hope I've got this right. If there are any Hindu members here, perhaps he or she will correct me, and elaborate.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#20
Fascinating stuff, American Voice. The concept of karma is something that I don't believe in on an intellectual level but seem to believe at a gut level.

Actually, there are many other contradictions of this nature in my thinking, where my heart senses a truth in something but my brain rejects it as absurd.

Just for one other example, every single thing that I hold as true denies the possibility of the dead watching over us, yet I get that feeling from time to time that deceased family members are watching over. I will most fervently pray to deceased family members for guidance when I need it, all the while my brain says, 'this is stupid! stop it!'

Does anybody else have this clash between the heart and the brain?
 
researchok
#21
Haggis, explain further please.

Seems to me you are describing 'faith'- that is believing despite evidence to the contary or lack of evidence.

Aren't there many levels of faith? Why should that be any diferent from 'karma'?

Faith is not mutually exclusive from reason.

By the way, good morning. Book signing went well.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by researchok

Haggis, explain further please.

Seems to me you are describing 'faith'- that is believing despite evidence to the contary or lack of evidence.

Aren't there many levels of faith? Why should that be any diferent from 'karma'?

Faith is not mutually exclusive from reason.

By the way, good morning. Book signing went well.

Good morning, co-author! I am looking forward to our first million..

By its definition I do not have faith since I deny the validity of my feelings. To have faith, I think, would mean to accept my gut instinct and ignore my intellectual challenge to the instinct.
 
researchok
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Haggis McBagpipe

Fascinating stuff, American Voice. The concept of karma is something that I don't believe in on an intellectual level but seem to believe at a gut level.

Actually, there are many other contradictions of this nature in my thinking, where my heart senses a truth in something but my brain rejects it as absurd.

Just for one other example, every single thing that I hold as true denies the possibility of the dead watching over us, yet I get that feeling from time to time that deceased family members are watching over. I will most fervently pray to deceased family members for guidance when I need it, all the while my brain says, 'this is stupid! stop it!'

Does anybody else have this clash between the heart and the brain?

Waot a second- you mean i have to SHARE the money? YOU COMMUNIST!

OK, so why the conflict? If you KNOW your going to deny the feelings, surely at some point you would stop having them? As in, "I know if I touch the stovetop, I'll get burned.."

My point is, that on some level, you're still unsure.

In other words, welcome to the human race.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by researchok

Waot a second- you mean i have to SHARE the money? YOU COMMUNIST!

OK, so why the conflict? If you KNOW your going to deny the feelings, surely at some point you would stop having them? As in, "I know if I touch the stovetop, I'll get burned.."

Not only share the money, but to be fair I should get more. Not sure why, but I should!

I think I would call my 'faith' more of a 'wistful thinking', really. As for stopping having them, I tend to hoard stuff, even stuff like that. :-) Shove that box of thoughts up in the attic, never know when you might need 'em.

Your analogy to the stovetop would work except that thoughts of faith are soothing and tempting, therefore alluring. No burn to teach one not to do it, only a brain that sneers.
 
researchok
#25
SOME thoughts of faith are soothing and tempting.

Others are nice and toasty.

Then there's divine retribution-- that's always as good as a mother's guilt inducing, sad sigh.

Geez, I get the shivers just thinking about it!
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by researchok

Then there's divine retribution-- that's always as good as a mother's guilt inducing, sad sigh.

Geez, I get the shivers just thinking about it!

My god, so do I. My mother was the Premium Number One Guilt Producer in the Free World, she could instill guilt at ten paces, blindfolded, with hands tied behind her back. Oh my, she was good.
 
researchok
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Haggis McBagpipe

Quote: Originally Posted by researchok

Then there's divine retribution-- that's always as good as a mother's guilt inducing, sad sigh.

Geez, I get the shivers just thinking about it!

My god, so do I. My mother was the Premium Number One Guilt Producer in the Free World, she could instill guilt at ten paces, blindfolded, with hands tied behind her back. Oh my, she was good.

man, we MUST be related!

My mom won the Olympic Gold Medal in Guilt Inducement.

Naturally, she declined the medal and accompanying fame, as she didn't want to embarras us.

She was willing to give up the record books for OUR happiness.
 
American Voice
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by Haggis McBagpipe

Does anybody else have this clash between the heart and the brain?

I am currently involved in a relationship with a young woman, and in the course of this the distinction between desire and intention has appeared in sharp relief. It comes back to the karmic dilemma, i.e., the sterile purity of desire versus the messiness of intention. What is love if it isn't acted upon, and what is the appropriate expression of love in each instance? I am reminded of the faith versus works dilemma described by St. Paul in, I believe, the Epistle to the Romans, is it? I am uncomfortable with the term salvation but I believe--and this goes back to the idea of purpose--we do need to vindicate our existence by, I don't know, some good works? It's not that some remote Paternal Deity requires it of us, but that we feel it in our bones that we ought to do something with our lives; discover penicillin, raise children, create jobs, just be nice to people.
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#29
Research quote:
>> Naturally, she declined the medal and accompanying fame, as she didn't want to embarras us. She was willing to give up the record books for OUR happiness.

I'm laughing here... I think these two mothers compared notes! My mum could wring enough guilt out of a person that they'd be dehydrated for weeks. Red blood cells were replaced by painful guilt cells, and the only reason she was even alive was so she could be there in case we needed her because once we no longer needed her she had no real reason to live, and she only told us this so we'd know just how much she loved us.

AV quote:
>>we do need to vindicate our existence by, I don't know, some good works? It's not that some remote Paternal Deity requires it of us, but that we feel it in our bones that we ought to do something with our lives; discover penicillin, raise children, create jobs, just be nice to people.

But maybe we feel the same at the end of it all. Given time, prior to death, we will indulge in regrets, but nearer to death does the achiever feel better for his achievements than the ne'er do well who has done nothing?

Do we die easier knowing we have done these things or is this merely what we hope is true? Is our need to do something with our lives a hedge against death, or is it a reluctant tribute to the possibility of a reward on the other side?
 
American Voice
#30
No, I think it just makes us feel good, and happiness is an indicator of something.
 

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