04 junio 2022

Standpoints de Svend Brinkmann


La traducción al español literalmente es “Punto de vista” aunque creo que está más relacionado como punto fijo o punto de ancla. El autor Sven Birkman habla del libro como si fuera una continuidad de su anterior trabajo Stand Firm. “Manténte firme”. y apunta una serie de “Anclas” a las que aferrarnos para vivir. Abajo pondré las notas y ahora las iré comentando, alguna incluso la he añadido a mi decálogo:

-”La vida no tiene sentido más allá del que demos a cada cosa que hagamos durante el día. Aprovecha y dale sentido día a día”-.


La estructura del libro se divide en 10 capítulos que cubre 10 puntos de anclajes en los que aferrarnos para vivir.


  1. The Good: If there is something we do for its own sake, it must be the overall good (Aristotle).

  2. Dignity: Everything has either a price or dignity (Kant).

  3. The Promise: Man is an animal with the right to make promises (Nietzsche).

  4. The Self: The self is a relation that relates to itself (Kierkegaard).

  5. Truth: Although there is no truth, man can be truthful (Arendt).

  6. Responsibility: The individual never has anything to do with another person without holding something of this person’s life in his hand (Løgstrup).

  7. Love: Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real (Murdoch).

  8. Forgiveness: Forgiveness forgives only the unforgivable (Derrida).

  9. Freedom: Freedom is not constituted primarily of privileges but of responsibilities (Camus).

  10. Death: He who has learned to die has unlearned to serve (Montaigne).



Notas

William James thought that the depression he suffered in his youth had been triggered by studying science, which had taught him that the universe lacks meaning and humankind lacks free will. James’ pragmatic solution was to choose to believe in free will and thus that individuals are capable of infusing their own lives with meaning.

...

When our lives are busy – filled with family, friends, colleagues and all sorts of activity at work and in our spare time – the world seems loaded with significance and value. We rarely stop and ask ourselves whether it is ‘meaningful’, but when It breaks, we may find ourselves wondering about the meaning of it all. Why does whatever happens happen, and why do we do what we do? Is anything we do with our lives actually worthwhile?

...

In brief, the book’s thesis is that meaning is derived from phenomena that constitute an end in themselves, and from activities we indulge in for their own sake, rather than to achieve or obtain something.


  • comentarios. Podemos vivir una vida que parece llena de sentido, pero en algún momento podemos perderlo todo, entonces nos preguntamos ¿Qué sentido tiene seguir viviendo? La respuesta es que no la vida no tiene un sentido final, no podemos pensar en la vida como un medio, sino como un fin. El sentido de la vida es lo que hacemos aquí y ahora.

...

Hadot underlines time and time again that we need aphorisms, maxims and short summaries of the wisdom that is existentially significant for humankind.

  • Eso es, ojalá pueda ir anotando pequeños aforismos o frases en mi decálogo que pueda ser un punto de apoyo en mi existencia.

...

The chapters are short and do not take long to read. Hopefully, you will spend more time thinking about the ideas in them than reading about them. After reading this book, you should hopefully be able to answer the question of what standpoints are worth standing firm on in your life.

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According to Aristotle, not everything can be measured quantitatively on scales of happiness and health. If we do something that has intrinsic value (e.g. being kind to others), it has a form of meaning and dignity in itself.

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Aristotle: the good is defined as that which has its own intrinsic value. In this sense, the good consists of the useless – which, paradoxically, can be seen as useful precisely because it is useless.

  • La bondad puede llegar a ser algo inútil (sin que nos reporte un fin) pero precisamente por su “inutilidad” su sin sentido, cobra sentido.

...

Knowledge, ethics, friendship, trust, recognition and other phenomena are then there purely for the individual’s sake, and are endowed with value relative to the individual’s taste,

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In The Joy of Missing Out, I discuss ways of living our lives that would make it possible for society as a whole to focus on these values.

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we have created a society with a cultural landscape, an ecological niche, based on invitations, temptations, choices and special offers, but we rarely practise the art of self-restraint, of saying no and opting out – those are skills we lack both as individuals and as a society. This book recommends making a virtue of necessity and practising the art of missing out.

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My assertion is that we would, unfortunately, discover a lot of people who have difficulty defining the nature of meaning.

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Something that used to belong solely to our free time has become a management tool to generate profit.

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One of the basic premises of this book is a paradox: namely that many disciplines – including the humanities – are of use precisely by virtue of their uselessness. In other words, it is more important than ever to show that there is more to life than what is ‘useful’. (...) that is, when they do not serve any purpose, when they are ends in themselves. Following this line of argument, it is the supposedly useless phenomena that give life content and meaning.

  • Hay algo más allá de lo que hagamos sea “util” (medio). Si algo que hacemos es “inútil” es cuando cobra sentido porque lo hacemos por su único fin.

...

As such, psychology – or at least some of it – has contributed not just to the instrumentalisation of society but also to a self-centred culture and, in certain cases, outright narcissism.

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If everything in the modern world has to be useful, then only the useless is actually useful in helping us (re)discover meaning.

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This book seeks to use philosophical ideas to formulate a philosophy of life capable of resisting instrumentalisation and utilitarian thinking.

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Conversely, one of the basic points in this book is that the meaningful is not subjective, or something ‘internal’, but is derived from phenomena – standpoints – in our lives as part of a society.

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These ten ideas are, therefore, intended as reminders of what is important and meaningful in life. My hope is that they will help you realise that there are some things that have value in and of themselves and are an intrinsic part of a meaningful human existence.

...

1 BONDAD

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We should not feel guilty about spending time on such useless activities, because, in an instrumentalised era, these are precisely the activities that offer the prospect of a meaningful life. Uselessness is the highest good. We should practise saying this to ourselves – not as an unthinking mantra, but as a constant reminder that what constitutes the most important thing in life is not up to me as a subjective individual, nor is it up to the agencies in society that seek to promote instrumentalisation.

  • PARADOJA: la inutilidad es el mayor bien (Me ha hecho recordar cuando limpiaba de plásticos la playa. Aunque sabía que al día siguiente volverá a llenarse de basura, el hacerlo por el simple hecho de hacerlo, como bien, y lo bonita que quedaba era el fin que más satisfacción me daba. También la inutilidad de amar, sin que sea un medio, es algo bonito, bueno, hacer felíz y cómodos a los demas.

...

2 DIGNIDAD

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it is interesting that we are able to understand the significance and value of dignity at all. Why not just hurl ourselves to the floor and bawl away, we might ask? After all, we are about to die anyway…

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In his three major – and difficult – works on pure reason (knowledge), practical reason (morals) and judgement (including aesthetics), he posed the fundamental philosophical questions: What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for?

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But we can see the world in that light – as populated by people who are ends in themselves – and we can try, as much as possible, to live in a way that fulfils the ideal of the kingdom of ends. Indeed, according to Kant, we have a duty to try.

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the world is simply a complex machine, with no meaning other than that with which we endow It.

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the only things with true value are those upon which we cannot put a price. Promise to day nothing.

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According to Robbins, success does not consist in seeing beyond your own desires and thinking of others, but in doing exactly what you want, even ‘with whom you want’. (...) success cannot be defined in this way. Success must – in a moral sense – involve treating others as an end per se, and not just as a means to get what we want.

...

3 PROMESA.

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Only humans have the reflexive self-consciousness and understanding of the link between today and tomorrow that are prerequisites for making promises.

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even argued that merely making an observation about the world is, in a functional sense, the same as making a promise.

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Guilt acts as a moral compass – without it, acting morally is difficult – so it is important that children learn to feel guilt when they are guilty (but not, of course, when they are innocent).

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Morality exists because people have power over themselves and each other (and vice versa).

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We promise each other things for the time being. After all, we might make a promise, only for something better to come along.

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If we do not strive to stand firm on our promises, we undermine the nature of humanity.

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4 El Ser

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Kierkegaard would have said that humankind is both a physical and mental being.

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Just like every other living thing, humans relate to the world – but what makes us unique is the ability to relate to how we relate to the world.

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The self that is determined by a community and is capable of becoming a relation that relates to itself is a totally different kind of self than the one promulgated in the vast majority of self-help literature, where the self is usually considered to be an inner, individual truth or core to be set free.

...

6 RESPONSABILITY


We have a duty to do something good, because it is in our power to do so.

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8 LOVE

Being a good person does not, in the first instance, consist of choosing this or that, but of paying attention – to others, to the world, to the actions that various situations call for – and not primarily to the self.

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Good has a reality that exceeds our limited comprehension. And yet we are able to recognise the good when we become aware of it in specific situations.

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Love is only possible if we accept the reality of a world outside ourselves – and that, Murdoch believed, requires honesty and humility.

We do not love the sum of its properties.

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That sounds like an instrumentalised love: love the other in order to be loved yourself, and love yourself so others will love you. This makes love a something-for-something relationship, a kind of transaction, which is surely not the idea (at least not in the Bible).

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Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) relates the story of how, one day in 1901, he was out cycling when it suddenly struck him that he no longer loved his first wife (he married four times). So he rode home and informed her of this state of affairs, and that he wanted a divorce. Here, love is identified with a feeling – when it is gone, love is gone too. This is logical. But what if love is not a feeling?

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But what if the one we love is seriously ill? What if there is no guarantee that being with him or her will be ‘reinforcing’ and ‘growth-enhancing’? Murdoch reminds us that love is not a feeling, but a radical form of attention to something other than ourselves.

...

FORGIVENESS


Simply put, he contends that only the unforgivable can be forgiven – or, in his words ‘forgiveness only forgives the unforgivable’.

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Actual forgiveness – i.e. of the unforgivable – is not given in order to receive something in return.

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we can only be hospitable to the unwelcome. If somebody is invited, welcome and wanted, there is no reason to be hospitable. Hospitality entails the person who opens up their home voluntarily relinquishing control over their own space when they say to their guest ‘make yourself at home!’

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Murdoch’s emphasis on the ethical significance of paying attention, in that forgiveness is possible via paying attention to the other as merely human.

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9 FREEDOM

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– but we can, in practice, think that we are free. This is sufficient, since it means that we can relate to each other as members of what he called the kingdom of ends, and thus we can live meaningful lives.

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For Camus, nothing has meaning, and yet people strive constantly to create it, an endeavour ultimately doomed to failure.

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‘Freedom is not constituted primarily of privileges but of responsibilities.

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freedom does not consist of doing whatever we want, but doing that which is required of us.

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the problem with our modern concept of freedom is that if we always do what we want (in the sense of what we most feel like), then we are not really free, but slaves to our desires.

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There can be no real freedom without the obligation to safeguard the conditions that make freedom possible.

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Freedom, Camus argues, must not be sacrificed for material wealth.

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10 DEATH

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without death, there is no existential meaningfulness.

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The very fact that we live within a finite horizon means that our experiences and actions in life can have meaning and value.

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If we were invulnerable, immortal beings, virtues like courage, perseverance, self-sacrifice or loyalty would be unthinkable. Standpoints like dignity, love and forgiveness would make little sense.

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If we do not learn to understand death and acknowledge its meaning, we may perhaps waste our lives on unimportant things without understanding the brevity of life.

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‘To Be Happier, Start Thinking More About Your Death’.14 To this, I would respond: No. That is not why we should think about our death. We should think about our death because it is the horizon for meaning in life. If this thought makes us happy, that is fine. But the idea itself has meaning on its own.

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EPILOGUE

The starting point for this book is that, nowadays, we lack an understanding of the content and purpose of our activities, but we have become experts in the means and the instruments.

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Like the later Holocaust analyst and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman,2 Adorno and Horkheimer asserted that totalitarianism’s horrors do not represent a reversion to a pre-modern barbarism, but are a consequence of modernity itself.

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In Adorno and Horkheimer’s words, reason becomes an ‘instrument of an all-encompassing economic machine’ in the modern demystified era.3 This makes it difficult to grasp the idea that something may have intrinsic value, and everything thus becomes a means to something else.

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A happy person is something completely different from a good person’. As per Beckett, also cited earlier, we are still waiting for Godot, even when we are happy. It is meaningful to want to be a good person – even if it conflicts with our subjective well-being.

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We can also choose to stick with the idea that happiness is the highest value, but reject the idea that it is defined by experiences.

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the conclusion is that the meaningful life cannot be understood on the basis of categories of experience. It must be understood on the basis of categories of action, where people engage in activities that have intrinsic value.

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We must live morally because it is good to do so, not because it makes us happy or is healthy.

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