[Topics: Absurdity, Meaning, Morality]
When Mattering Matters:

Thomas Nagel, Final Outcomes, and Considering Actions on Different Scales

 

Introduction:

Thomas Nagel Sketch by M.R.P. - final outcome argument - absurdity - meaning

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Where is one left, after four weeks of discussing morality, if the conclusions reached are primarily that humans would do well to approach situations of moral choice with earnest, humble attention to nuance and detail? Well, some of the background assumptions which have led to this formulation are somewhat grander, such as that the apparent objectivity of some basic moral strictures may be an expected piece of a socially evolved mind, or that the justifications for trusting most proposed sources of moral knowledge are on equally dubious footing.

So, if by some chance you are willing to grant that I might be on the right track with both the grand propositions and the simple conclusions, then you might think that we are actually left in a somewhat sorry state, as moral actions then lack the special significance for which they are often revered. In responding to that charge, one can refer to some remarks of Thomas Nagel on the experience of absurdity, and on when mattering matters.

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[Topics: Absurdity, Meaning, Morality]
When Mattering Matters:

Thomas Nagel, Final Outcomes, and Considering Actions on Different Scales

was last modified: February 28th, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

 

Danny Boyle Sketch by M.R.P. - Slumdog Millionaire - analysis, meaning of life

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

The notion of an overarching, providential justice overseeing and directing all human events, while out of vogue in modern philosophy, remains a huge influence on popular culture. That this sort of determined or corrective justice acts not just generally across time, but within a given life, is a particularly attractive thought to the creators of the fictive tales of the film industry. The reasons for this are myriad, bringing to both content creators and audiences an appeasement of their desire to see good things happen to good people; their desire to see bad things happen to bad people; and their desire to witness miraculous or incredible events.

The 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Picture (and other categories) was Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire, a case-in-point of the populace’s penchant for fictionalized treatments of karmic justice, as directed by Danny Boyle. This concept of overarching justice can be understood by its relation to the philosophical topic of internal meaning. For a human life to have internal meaning, it must be good for the person who lives it and it must include worthwhile activities (for a more detailed account of meaning, see this encyclopedia entry). Ultimately, Slumdog Millionaire seems to put forward a short-sighted account which contends that a life can be internally meaningful if it contains worthwhile activity and if, by way of some kind of providence, it ends up being good for the person who lives it.

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[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

was last modified: June 20th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski