Philosophy @3am

David Cooper

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy

There are really three players: ‘absolutists’, for whom it is possible to describe reality as it anyway is; ‘constructivists’ or ‘humanists’, for whom there is nothing beyond a world that is relative to human interests and conceptual schemes; and ‘ineffabilists’, like myself, for whom any describable world indeed exists ‘only in relation to man’, as Heidegger put it, but for whom, as well, there is an ineffable realm ‘beyond the human’.’

‘It is very important to recognize that these rivalries recur in other traditions, for example Indian and East Asian ones. It’s important, first, because it supports the claim that debates about this relationship are not merely the preoccupation of intellectuals situated in particular cultural contexts, but ‘vital’ ones that register universal human fears and yearnings, the need people have to understand their place in the world. In the case of many Eastern teachings, these conceptions were, rather obviously, philosophical articulations of religious sensibilities and dispensations. The Nyaya school, for example, didn’t develop ‘a theory of knowledge’ for its own sake, but with the express aim of ‘release from the wheel of life’.’

‘For many years, questions about the meaning of life were dismissed as senseless. We were told that life, not being a word or sentence or anything language-like, can’t intelligibly be said to have meaning. An encouraging development in the last couple of decades is a return by philosophers to addressing – as nearly all people do at some time or another – the question of life’s meaning.‘

Read the interview.

Source: 3am magazine

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