You have to be far enough away to be seen: Story Shuffle 8 (Anniversaries)

Another Story Shuffle, this the 8th, the one year anniversary celebration and a theme of Anniversaries, was held in my Fishtown rowhome last week.

I told the story of Voyager II, an un-manned spacecraft sent out 34 years earlier in order to go farther than we ever have before. Like other ships send to deep space, it had to get far enough away so it could be seen, a subject I found fitting for both the space program and our own depiction of ourselves.

Give it a listen below or find all the stories here.

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The myth of reason

By Christopher Wink | Feb 27, 2007 | Existentialism

In philosophical discourse, discussions of reason are not without precedence. It seems that all of the great thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries had thoughts on rationality and its role in history, society and individual decision.

German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) is known for his unshakable resolve towards his truth and ethics, so, it is understandable that he held a strong belief in the meaning of reason, as derived from an interpretation of moral action (Kirkbright, 85).

Conversely, a great many other philosophers are more famously tied to the topic in discussions of the ‘myth of reason.’ Prussian-born Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) criticized rationality for its idealism, its ability to be understood and evaluated by the actor. As an example, tying the system of reason to Socrates, Nietzsche suggested that rationality eroded Greek tragedy because it forced the art to follow the forms of its idealism (Stewart, 307).

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Durkeim’s suicide causes in final last words

By Christopher Wink | Mar 5, 2008 | Death and Dying

We are so often caught up in final words. I suppose we write stories because we most enjoy understanding something’s beginning and its end. It follows then, if only in a casual way, that suicide, its finality, the control and closure it is said to provide, is irrationality that some can come to understand. One of the most important elements to the act is the note, those final words. Otherwise, pain lingers longer and doubt clouds the mind.

Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist who came to know a great deal of self-inflicted death, his interest led him to establish much of contemporary understanding of suicide. This very paper will use Durkheim (1858 – 1917) to vet out the varied causes of suicide, using the final words* of those killed for insight into possible motivation.

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Durkeim's suicide causes in final last words

By Christopher Wink | Mar 5, 2008 | Death and Dying

We are so often caught up in final words. I suppose we write stories because we most enjoy understanding something’s beginning and its end. It follows then, if only in a casual way, that suicide, its finality, the control and closure it is said to provide, is irrationality that some can come to understand. One of the most important elements to the act is the note, those final words. Otherwise, pain lingers longer and doubt clouds the mind.

Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist who came to know a great deal of self-inflicted death, his interest led him to establish much of contemporary understanding of suicide. This very paper will use Durkheim (1858 – 1917) to vet out the varied causes of suicide, using the final words* of those killed for insight into possible motivation.

Continue reading Durkeim's suicide causes in final last words

Simone Weil and affliction

By Christopher Wink | Feb 9, 2007 | Existentialism

The life of French philosophical writer and activist Simone Weil made a noticeable impact in many spheres of intellectual thought despite her politically-orientated, voluntary starvation little more than three decades after her birth. Despite her attachment to 20th century philosophy, perhaps her most powerful mark is her use of the idea of affliction.

As Weil (1909-1943) wrote, very few souls are able to attain affliction, which she described as broad suffering as a means to unite with God, yet it is through it that we can come closer to our Creator. One avenue for approaching her use of affliction is to view it as a theodicy.

Since the Greek term’s German beginning in the early eighteenth century, theodicy, which is an attempt to rectify the existence of evil with the idea of a benevolent God, has been a popular theme for thinkers of every breed. From German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) to French Protestant theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) and his eponymous movement of accepting all acts as part of God’s just plan, legends of intellectual thought have wrestled with this spiritual paradox, rectifying a benevolent Creator and a painful existence.

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Logical paradox in Kierkegaard

By Christopher Wink | Jan 30, 2007 | Existentialism

I have never been confused for a great thinker. Philosophy is a world of thought, unprovoked and often aimless, an unlikely home for someone like me. I think I enjoy it anyway. I enjoy it because I have assignments that ask me to define an existential paradox.

This is no simple task, one page limit or not. I can now say that I have read Fear and Trembling by 19th century Danish philosophy Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), and I managed to understand enough to be forced into thought. Still, I am not uncomfortable with admitting that I was forced to do some additional research to even begin to define an existential paradox, and I will try my very best to convey whatever it is I learned.

Any paradox is simply a phrase that seems contradictory to intuition but may be true. In his 1980 essay entitled System and Structure, which appeared in Communication and Exchange, English writer Anthony Wilden defined an existential paradox as a “conscious or unconscious intentionalization… about life which denies the usually accepted categories of truth and falsity about ‘reality.” I didn’t know what this meant when I first read it. I probably still don’t.

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Existential men of de Beauvoir

By Christopher Wink | Apr 17, 2007 | Existentialism

In 1947 French author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) published The Ethics of Ambiguity, arguably the most accessible explanation of a host of existential ideas and themes. A notable member of a notable age in French philosophy, Beauvoir had a close relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and was a contemporary of Albert Camus (1913-1960) and fellow Parisian Simone Weil (1909-1943). In Ethics, one of Beauvoir’s more memorable techniques was to characterize a series of men with certain existential qualities in order to make the themes easier to understand through their personification.

In one way or another, almost all of the personalities form and fall into one or another, but one is particularly interesting in the problems it encounters, the serious man. This man is enraptured in the very spirit of seriousness, considering his values bigger than his personage, certainly an example of Sartre’s concept of bad faith.

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Absurdity in Camus

By Christopher Wink | Apr 17, 2007 | Existentialism

Albert Camus is no small figure in twentieth century philosophy. Born in Algeria to a working-class family, to many, Camus is a central figure who, despite his disapproving, has become the face of existentialism. Because of his importance, his assertion that suicide is the ultimate philosophical question is no small matter.

In the late 1930s Camus (1913-1960) began writing of reality’s absurdity, expounding on the subject in his legendary Myth of Sisyphus and continuing the theme in works like The Stranger and others. Camus’s paradox of the absurd took on the idea that, while we do much to convince ourselves otherwise, with the universe in mind, our lives are unquestionably insignificant.

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A review of Martin Heidegger on being

By Christopher Wink | Feb. 26, 2008 | 1,002 words

Martin Heidegger was born poor and Catholic in a rural village of southern Germany. Believers in fate will know that he was destined to go to university, take academic ranks in Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party, fall out of favor, regain a position of scholarly authority and become, today, one of the most highly regarded philosophic minds of the 20th Century.

There is little debate that the most important work contributed by Heidegger (1889 to 1976) was Sein und Zeit, published in 1927 and quickly translated in English as Being and Time. By most accounts, it was written in haste and, indeed, never completed the goals he set for himself in the introduction he wrote, yet it remains a fundamental work of Western philosophy. Using that and other precepts ascribed to the man, what follows will, in great brevity, review some of his powerful conceptions of the great questions of philosophy has ever posed, those of existence, of being and of death.

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