Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

The eternal problem of the basis of morality

September 10, 2009

The universe is not absurd in itself, any more than it is yellow or sugary: it simply is. Life and the world have a meaning for the believer who has a code of conduct in the Gospels based on the word of Christ. Camus’ anguish came from the fact that no morality was imposed by an atheist or agnostic’s world…For Camus, truth existed in the sciences, but not a single truth…Both (Sartre and Camus) confronted the eternal problem of the basis of morality if one does not believe in God.

Camus’ biographer, Olivier Todd, pp.145, 156

Needless to say, neither found that basis and no one ever will.

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I have no answer

September 10, 2009

When I ask myself why I have always behaved honourably, ready to spare others and to be kind whenever possible, and why I did not give up doing so when I observed that in that way one harms oneself and becomes an anvil because other people are brutal and untrustworthy, then, it is true, I have no answer.

Sigmund Freud, writing to James Putnam, neurologist

To say, ‘I have no answer’ to the question, ‘Why should I be good?’ is hardly a small matter. It leaves the sort of vacuum that coercion or anarchy (or both) will fill – as we see.

The loss of God and human personality

September 10, 2009

I believe that with the loss of God, man has lost a kind of absolute and universal system of coordinates, to which he could always relate anything, chiefly himself. His world and his personality gradually began to break up into separate, incoherent fragments corresponding to different, relative, coordinates.

Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, dissident, later President

Suffering without purpose is unbearable

September 9, 2009

Until the advent of the ascetic ideal, man, the animal man, had no meaning at all on this earth. His existence was aimless; the question, ‘Why is there such a thing as man?’ could not have been answered….behind every great human destiny there sounded as a refrain a yet greater “in vain!” This is precisely what the ascetic ideal means: that something was lacking, that man was surrounded by a fearful void—he did not know how to justify, to account for, to affirm himself; he suffered from the problem of his meaning…

He also suffered otherwise, he was in the main a sickly animal: but his problem was not suffering itself, but that there was no answer to the crying question, “why do I suffer?”

Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far…man would rather will nothingness than not will.

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 28

Deconversion of Karl Marx

September 9, 2009

“. . . union with Christ consists in the most intimate communication with him, in having him before our eyes and in our hearts, and being so filled with the highest love for him, at the same time we turn our hearts to our brothers whom he has closely bound to us and for whom also he sacrificed himself.”

Karl Marx, age 17, school-leaving essay

The decline of religious belief?

September 8, 2009

The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.

Freud, Sigmund, The Future of an Illusion.

Plainly wrong – unless one is a myopic, condescending, Western intellectual

Rumours of the death of God have been greatly exagerrated.

Man is by his constitution a religious animal

September 8, 2009

Man is by his constitution a religious animal; atheism is against not only our reason, but our instincts.

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

But his religion may not be the true religion…

Football is our religion

Sky TV advert

That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget

September 6, 2009

That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.

Jean-Paul Sartre

I have felt since early youth the pain of solitude

September 3, 2009

Underlying all occupations and all pleasures I have felt since early youth the pain of solitude. I have escaped it most nearly in moments of love, yet even there, on reflection, I have found that the escape depended partly upon illusion. I have known no woman to whom the claims of intellect were as absolute as they were to me, and wherever intellect intervened, I have found that the sympathy I sought in love was apt to fail. What Spinoza called ”the intellectual love of God” has seemed to me the best thing to live by, but I have not had even the somewhat abstract God that Spinoza allowed himself . . . I have loved a ghost, and in loving a ghost my inmost self has become spectral . . . my most profound feelings have remained always solitary and have found in human things no companionship. The sea, the stars, the night wind in waste places, mean more to me than even the human beings I love best, and I am conscious that human affection is to me at bottom an attempt to escape from the vain search for God.

Bertrand Russell, Ray Monk, vol.1., p.531

Myth of Objectivity – Jung on Freud

August 30, 2009

There was no mistaking the fact that Freud was emotionally involved in his sexual theory to an extraordinary degree. When he spoke of it, his tone became urgent, almost anxious, and all signs of his normally critical and skeptical manner vanished. A strange, deeply moved expression came over his face, the cause of which I was at a loss to understand. I had a strong intuition that for him sexuality was a sort of numinosum. This was confirmed by a conversation, which took place some three years later (in 1910), again in Vienna. I can still recall vividly how Freud said to me, ‘My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.’ He said that to me with great emotion, in the tone of a father saying, ‘And promise me this one thing, my dear son, that you will go to church every Sunday.’ It is strange that Freud, who was basing his theories on and interpreting the dreams of others, including those of Jung, was curiously enough anxious to conceal his own and his private life. The motive for such concealment could hardly be academic or scientific. Jung writes, “Freud had a dream-I would not think it right to air the problem it involved. I interpreted it as best I could but added that a great deal more could be said about it if he would supply me with some additional details from his private life. Freud’s response to these words was a curious look – a look of the utmost suspicion. Then he said, ‘But I cannot risk my authority.’ At that moment he lost it altogether. That sentence burned itself into my memory; and in it the end of our relationship was already foreshadowed. Freud was placing personal authority above truth.

One thing was clear Freud, who had always made much of his irreligiosity, had now construc- ted a dogma; or rather, in the place of a jealous God, whom he had lost, he had substituted another compelling image, that of sexuality.

Jung, C.G., Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 150, 158