This Life

I figured we needed a break from apologetics, so how about actually talking about humanism? This article resoundingly answers the question that humanism is not well articulated, first with a romp through history, then a review of a recent book, “This Life” by Martin Hagglund. Another one to add to the stack.

As usual, the naming of famous philosophers in the article is lost on me. I’ve heard of almost all of them, but have no clue of who they are.

As for the book the article is about, I think it says some good stuff. I agree with pretty much everything it says, and the bit I won’t say I agree with, is only because I don’t know if I understand it well enough to judge it. I doubt the book will hit my stack as it sounds a bit out of my depth.

My favorite part of the article is the latter part about how the author of the book compares his guiding principle, “…we should strive to reduce the realm of necessity and increase the realm of freedom.”, with a capitalist’s, “Capitalism treats the means of economic life, labor, as though it were the purpose of life.”

Although it seems obvious to me that the humanist ideal of improving everyone’s life should be the goal of society, my friends and neighbors disagree, claiming that fewer rules and regulations and lower taxes is more important.

Since it boils down to what a person thinks is important in life, there’s no way the two points of view can ever come together. The capitalist way of thinking is too ingrained in North American society to be replaced with the humanistic one of the author (and me) any time soon- this is a multi-generational change.

The idea of eternity destroys meaning and value.

Martin Hägglund

The appreciation of Evolution’s eternity returning meaning and value. :- )

Or Louise Glück’s extraordinary poem “Field Flowers,” narrated from the perspective of a flower, which chides its human visitors for thinking about eternal life instead of looking more closely at the flowers. In that poem, humans become spectral, and the natural world has the real, everlasting solidity:

. . . Your poor
idea of heaven: absence
of change. Better than earth? How
would you know, who are neither
here nor there, standing in our midst?


The problem with eternity is not that it doesn’t exist but that it is undesirable and incoherent; it kills meaning and collapses value.

This is a difficult truth to learn, because we are naturally fearful of loss, and therefore attached to the idea of eternal restoration. (Hägglund)


Once we seriously consider the consequences of existence without end, the prospect is not only horrifying but meaningless

(as the philosopher Bernard Williams argued years ago).


Yeah baby, always nice to hearing stuff that resonates with me.

I wonder what a Holmes’ type would make of this article - I myself loved it and found myself yelping right-on a time or two.


But Hägglund’s central claim is that a good deal of what passes for religious aspiration is secular aspiration that doesn’t know itself as such.

He wants to out religionists as closet secularists.

When we ardently hope that the lives of people we love will go on and on, we don’t really want them to be eternal.

We simply want those lives to last “for a longer time.”

So Hägglund’s reply would probably be:

Just admit that your real (faith-based) concerns and values are secular ones, grounded in the frailty, the finitude, and the rescue of this life. He makes a similar point in relation to Buddhism.

He is happy to welcome, as essentially secular, those popular forms of meditation and mindfulness which insist on our being “present in the moment”; but he chides as religious and deluded those doctrinal aspects of Buddhism which insist on detachment, release from anxiety, and an overcoming of worldly desire.


The great merit of Hägglund’s book is that he releases atheism from its ancient curse: its sticky intimacy with theism. Hägglund has no need for a parasitical relationship to the host (which, for instance, contaminates the so-called New Atheism), because he’s not interested in disproving the host’s existence. So, instead of being forced into, say, rationalist triumphalism (there is no God, and science is His prophet), he can expand the definition of the secular life so that it incorporates many of the elements traditionally thought of as religious. ...
Feuerbach wanted to liberate human beings from their harmful self-deceptions, but Hägglund sees no imperative to disdain this venerable meaning-making projection, no need to close down all the temples and churches and wash them away with a strong dose of Dawkins. Instead, religious practice could be seen as valuable and even cherishable, once it is understood to be a natural human quest for meaning. Everything flows from the double assumption that only finitude makes for ultimate meaning and that most religious values are unconsciously secular. We are meaning-haunted creatures. ...
That was a fun read, thank you Lausten and unlike the author I'm left with a slight feeling of affirmation or something like that.

“…I’m left with a slight feeling of affirmation…”

Me too.

So much of what I see and hear is bad news and about bad people. This article was a nice change of pace and makes me feel less alone in my thinking.

Yes. I read this piece when it first came out, and a couple times since then – though, I admit, not as closely as I generally read articles. It relies on knowing a lot about the various writers and philosophers mentioned.

But this right here:


Once we seriously consider the consequences of existence without end, the prospect is not only horrifying but meaningless ... An eternity based on ... “absence of change” would be not a rescue from anything but an end of everything meaningful.
This is exactly how I feel, even though I believe the author agrees only begrudgingly.

Two quick points:

  1. Even when I was a Christian, I never understood the appeal of eternal life, no matter how blissful. The idea of “forever” is horrifying to me.

Recently, I discovered that this feeling actually has a name, and is considered to be a weird kind of phobia.

But honestly, I think that this fear is rare only because folks aren’t thinking about it very deeply.

  1. The article begins with a fallacy:
The novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson confessed to knowing some good people who are atheists, but lamented that she has yet to hear “the good Atheist position articulated.” She explained, “I cannot engage with an atheism that does not express itself.”
It's important to note that Robinson is Catholic.

The fallacy is that “atheism” needs to be articulated, that it’s a “thing” that really ought to explain itself better.

And the author doesn’t call her out on this.

Atheism is, again and again, simply the lack of a belief in gods. That’s it. That’s all.


It isn’t protest against Christianity, it isn’t Secular Humanism, it isn’t a philosophy unto itself.


Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” That’s from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949. The comment is meant to highlight what a repressive surveillance state the characters live in, but looked at another way, it shows how lucky they are: At least their brains are still private.

Over the past few weeks, Facebookand Elon Musk’s Neuralink announced they’re building tech to read your mind — literally.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company is funding research on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that can pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translate them into words. The researchers say they’ve already built an algorithm that can decode words from brain activity in real time.

And Musk’s company created flexible “threads” which can be implanted into a brain and could one day allow you to control your smartphone or computer with just your thoughts. Musk wants to start testing in humans by the end of next year.

My service robot. I want to control my service robot, with my thoughts.

Reminds me of a joke about teaching ______ insert despised minority of choice ________ how to hypnotize fish. . .


But I’ll leave it at that. :wink:

Saudi Aramco been hit with drones oil prices to hit 100 bucks plus pompeo blaming Iran and demanding war . It’s all happening. Keep it real folks


It’s all happening.
"It" meaning what, specifically?


Keep it real folks
Meaning we should or shouldn't do what, specifically?



The R word not to be mentioned. Please keep it quiet







I give up

The price of oil went up 10%, but Trump is opening the oil reserve to influence it from going up more.

As is often the case, Player’s posts lack clarity. But we know that he is constantly freaked out at the prospect of war, so I assume he is warning of imminent war with Iran.

Player almost certainly meant “rhathymia”. He’s hoping that we all adopt his hakuna matata attitude.

I always read his posts with a Rastafarian accent, because I picture him as a totally chill dude with not a care in the world.

The R word will not be televised.



Ahhhhhh yes


Player almost certainly meant “rhathymia”. He’s hoping that we all adopt his hakuna matata attitude.

I always read his posts with a Rastafarian accent, because I picture him as a totally chill dude with not a care in the world.

I picture @MikeYohe with a huge bong

It’s the only way anything he writes makes sense

Actually I do have a picture in my head of everyone on here.

Only you, Lausten, Holmes and TimB have pictures of yourselves (Tim may have shaved and evolved since his photo though, and Holmes may not always have a pipe clenched in his teeth), so most are probably a mile off.

My pic is more of an inner aspirational self.