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October 08, 2022


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“Into each life some rain must fall, but while the lucky dry themselves beside the fire, others are drenched by storms and floods, both literal and figurative.”

..........That’s spot on! Getting drenched by storms and floods is always very trying; but is one thing to momentary have to go through that sort of thing, while assured of a comforting fire by which to afterwards dry oneself at and drift off to sleep by, if only one can find the strength to weather the present crisis out; and an entirely different matter altogether to have to battle those storms and floods, knowing that even if one wins through the present crisis, but all that awaits one are days and months and years of scarcity and discord and other crises of other, perhaps harsher, sorts.

Haha, the cynic in me pipes up to laughingly point out that the solutions to crises that pampered princes come out with, no matter how lofty the genius of said prince, are perhaps not very relevant to the crises that less fortunate souls deal with, even if said prince deigns to slum it out with and like the peasants for eight or ten or whatever many years it was! (Not the cynicism is necessarily synonymous with wisdom, and so I take my cynicism, as well, with a pinch of salt!)


“The problem with theodicy is not just intellectual -- none of the arguments work -- but ethical, too. It's wrong to justify your own or others' suffering, to mute pity or protest in that way.”

……….If ever there was a concept devised, a thought, or rather a line of thought, that is the foulest and most offensive, then that is theodicy. Every time some pompous religious POS holds forth with some theodical bromide, whether Christian, or Karmic, or whatever other flavor, when faced with someone else’s suffering, then they should be beaten to an inch from death right there right then, or better still all of their near and dear ones beaten to a painful death right in front of their eyes, and then the guy who delivered the beating should scream that same theodical “comfort” loudly, deafeningly, right into their ears.

Which, of course, if no different than --- or at least, a rather savage version of --- Samuel Johnson’s earthy refutation of Berkeley. Truth to tell that counter-argument, in either context, is no more than a logical fallacy, the sort of thing woo-peddlers tend to resort to, and not those who value reason! That is, while theodical arguments are, one and all, patently nonsensical, and easily refuted; but neither Samuel Johnson’s witticism, nor my attempted savagery, is a truly valid refutation of it. But, as KS points out, the problem with theodical arguments is not just intellectual but ethical as well; and this line of “argument”, if one may call it that, does directly address the ethical enormity of theodical arguments. That is, given the supremely offensive nature of theodical constructions (offensive precisely because they’re all about defending the indefensible), and specifically because they’re nonsensical and often deliberately and dishonestly obscurantist, I believe even the savagery of my riff off of Samuel Johnson is entirely well deserved. (In its figurative form, I mean to say, and not literally, obviously!)


“in living well, we cannot extricate justice from self-interest”

……….All the rest of what he says makes a great deal of sense, although I don’t comment on all of those individual parts specifically. But this part I don’t think I get. I should have thought that justice is, or should be, independent of self-interest. Maybe I’m misunderstanding him here, but as far as I can make out he seems to be suggesting the exact opposite here!

[Kieran Setiya: - “...So this is where we are: heirs to a tradition that urges us to focus on the best in life but painfully aware of the ways in which life is hard. To open our eyes is to come face-to-face with suffering -- with infirmity, loneliness, grief, failure, injustice, absurdity.”]

I see two perspectives on this problem of suffering. Firstly, I have little or no concept of how some people seem to bravely cope and even flourish with a life of pain and disability. Perhaps it is something that one adjusts to. Having had a reasonably fit and healthy life for most of my life, I can't imagine being infirm or how to cope with it.

Secondly, I do accept that for the average reasonably fit and healthy individual, suffering can also takes on a certain state of mind, a sort of a discontent, a desire for life to be different than it is. This type of quite common suffering I feel to be connected with the mind, with how we think. There seems to be a constant stream of mental chatter (see previous blog) that often takes the form of imagined scenarios, worry or plain old ramblings that have little relevance to present realities.

Constant thinking and dwelling on such thoughts is what meditation is supposed to address. It is a habit that is hard (if not impossible) to deal with particularly for those who have busy working and family lives – there is always some issue or problem that the mind continually conjures up via (often) self protective thinking.

It will be interesting to see what else 'Chatter' and 'Life is Hard',comes up with.

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