This life

1 Apr, 2021 at 10:50 | Posted in Politics & Society | 9 Comments

This Life: Why Mortality Makes Us Free: Hägglund, Martin: 9781788163002: BooksBased on a re-reading of some of the great Western thinkers and philosophers (Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx) and a radical critique of the idea of infinity, Hägglund argues that faith is not a question of believing in an eternity but rather of how to live our finite lives together and be true to our belief in the pursuit of authentic freedom. An ambitious and impressive attempt at weaving together existential and political issues, questioning our way of living and organising our societies.

Read it!


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  1. It seems to me that the logic that these kind of treatises employ can lead one to rationalize anything, from Hagglundian democratic socialism to brutal Randian individualism.
    What is the value of reason if someone was to walk into a crowded mainstreet and rattle off a few hundred rounds from an automatic weapon or detonate a nuclear weapon over a sleeping city.
    I went outside and looked up to the night sky.
    Here we are on a minuscule lump of rock hurtling at enormous but imperceptible speed through the vast emptiness of space.
    And as I gazed into the endless darkness I thought of the billions of worlds being created and billions of worlds being destroyed at that instant. With nary a whimper from planet Earth.
    Some might find release and relief in the smell of blood or in the scent of a flower.
    Does it really matter which?

    • Have you even read the book?

      • No and I don’t see any reason to.

        • A good intellectual honesty principle is to FIRST read and acquaint yourself with other people’s ideas and thoughts and THEN — if you feel the need — to criticise them. A critique that isn’t ‘immanent’ in that way is worth nothing!

        • I will say I did read some reviews of the book so I have some sense of what it says. Of course this is in no way equivalent to reading the book itself.
          However, I am not concerned that I have not read the book and it is irrelevant whether I have read the book.
          You have missed the point I was trying to make.
          I was not critiquing the logic of the book per se.
          I have read too many of such treatises. No matter what the theme is there is always a pre-existing place the author wants to go. (In this case it is clearly a grand justification of democratic socialism.) The treatise then is just any amount of backfilling and rationalization required to make it to the desired goal. If anything is intellectually dishonest it is this. It borders on sophistry.
          Anybody can write a book about anything and justify anything. There’s millions of them. Why should I bother reading the next in the line?

          • What a load of sophistry from a ‘worth nothing’ carping critic. The troll is out tonight!

            • Henry is no troll and his criticisms are usually worth trying to understand.

  2. Definitely one of my favorite recent reads. Well worth engaging with!

  3. Lars,
    “Read it!”
    The book has inspired you and obviously resonates with your political and social values.
    Marx wrote a treatise or two which inspired the appalling and catastrophic history of 20th century socialism.
    So what is the value of inspiration?
    In the course of the recorded 5,000 year history of humanity how many billions of words have been written about man’s social condition? To what affect?
    We still cheat each other. We abuse, torture and wantonly kill. We ignore the plight of millions that needlessly suffer. Barely anything has shifted.
    We sit smugly with intellectual satisfaction, having read another few thousand words that massage our neurons yet leave our consciences unmoved. I am as guilty as anyone.
    Show us a book that calls us to resolute action.
    Then there is the existentially telling fact that another few thousand words read like a comic strip in the face of the overwhelming cosmic maelstrom.

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