PHIL 115 Lecture Notes - Ultimate Power, Totalitarianism, Friedrich Nietzsche

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
School
Queen's University
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 115
Professor
Week 11 26/03/2013 06:28:00
Marcel‟s distinction between a problem and a mystery
It‟s a worry of modern culture, diagnosing culture as being too nihilistic.
The notion of mystery is a religious concept.
However, Marcel cannot rely on his personal views to express
everything. He brackets them when thinking and writing.
Examples of mysteries:
He does not want to use the term „mystery‟ in the same way that we do
in our time.
It should not be taken to be „what is not known (yet)‟ or „what is
unknowable.‟
The deeper parts of human existence are essentially mysteries.
Mortality demands to be thought of, but it is not a problem that cannot be
solved.
In fact, it should not be approached as a problem; it isn‟t one.
The same could be said for any other mystery, like suffering or
human freedom.
Any „problem‟ associated with the human condition is a non-issue.
It cannot be solved.
Love is a mystery; it can give rise to problems that may be resolved, but
remains a mystery.
Marcel is a philosopher of human existence, and naturally he believes that
we must deal with the meaning of it. He wants to find the ability to think
about the most important human experiences.
The problem with a technology-dominant worldview is that it
deprives human experiences of meaning. They are reduced to
problems and solutions are applied to them.
Humanity includes the desire to understanding of our own
experiences. We are not merely truth seekers, but also meaning
seekers.
Suffering defines the human condition; we cannot escape it, so we must
find some meaning in it.
When one is confronted with suffering, he or she is likely to
confront it as a mere problem.
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Problems are things that one stands at an arm‟s reach from. A mystery is
not separate from oneself, it is part of one‟s being.
We should cope with our mysteries, not fix them. They have inevitable
consequences (especially mortality).
Part of what makes coping difficult is that there is no „best‟ method.
Each question must be undertaken by the individual.
Freedom:
What is it becoming of human freedom in the modern world:
[Context: this was written in France during the aftermath of the World
Wars]
Freedom is the most important right.
Freedom is very much under threat.
In the middle part of the 20th Century, freedom was very much under
threat, and not only due to insane political mvements.
Our freedom is being eroded.
We see Hitler and other tangible threats to people‟s freedom.
The more effective obstacles to freedom are more underhanded
Equality: different types of democratic socialism or leftist liberalism
became the dominant political philosophy.
o He is concerned for the individual and his/her diminishing
freedoms.
Security: in antiquity, security was found in religion, the ultimate
power.
o Religious ideas receded at the turn of the 20th century.
o What will fill the void left by the departure of religion?
We look to the state to provide security.
When they don‟t provide it to our satisfaction, we vote
them out.
o The human condition is one of insecurity.
o Giving institutions the power to secure the state and its
economics require freedom-limiting laws.
The way we lose our freedom is not in one fell swoop. It is
incremental.
o Our state „compensates‟ for it by adding measures of equality
or security.
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Document Summary

Marcel s distinction between a problem and a mystery. It s a worry of modern culture, diagnosing culture as being too nihilistic. The notion of mystery is a religious concept. However, marcel cannot rely on his personal views to express everything. He does not want to use the term mystery in the same way that we do in our time. It should not be taken to be what is not known (yet) or what is unknowable. The deeper parts of human existence are essentially mysteries. Mortality demands to be thought of, but it is not a problem that cannot be solved. In fact, it should not be approached as a problem; it isn t one. The same could be said for any other mystery, like suffering or human freedom. Any problem associated with the human condition is a non-issue. Love is a mystery; it can give rise to problems that may be resolved, but remains a mystery.

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