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Poetic Thinking 2016 | October 17, 2019

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The Seventh Seal as existentialist text

The Seventh Seal as existentialist text
Harry Desmond

In Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman, Paisley Livingston addresses the question of whether cinema can be said to do philosophy, and if so by what means. I am immediately put ill at ease by his definition of philosophy, which seems unfairly skewed towards the Analytic tradition:

‘Philosophy’ refers to more or less systematic investigative, expressive, and communicative activities, at a high level of generality and abstraction, pertaining to the world and our knowledge of it; philosophers, investigate, discuss, and pronounce upon a range of significant, general topics concerning the nature of reality, and, in particular, human action and value. The priveleged, though not exclusive, methods that philosophers use in such investigations and communications include reasoning and argumentation as well as attention to examples, whether actual or imagined, that may be indicative of more general patterns and possibilities.

This seems to lean towards the notion of philosophy as a disembodied and abstract system of knowledge, aiming to generate a set of true (ethical, metaphysical, logical) propositions about the world. If Bergman is doing philosophy, I contend, he is doing existentialism — and this has aim nothing like the above. Existentialism, rather, is a way of life, an orientation towards the world, a mode of being in it. (Consider the different connotations of “I am an existentialist” vs. “I am an analytic philosopher”.) The existentialist position is not the sort of thing one sets out to acquire rational evidence for; one does not weigh up the pro et contra and then perform some kind of Bayesian calculation to determine whether or not one ought to believe in it. One simply finds oneself in angst or despair — and then wonders what sense one might make of it.

It is here that I think The Seventh Seal finds its place. Through the character of Antonius Block in particular, Bergman manifests the existential mode of being, creating the most suitable and significant situations for it to reveal and play itself out fully. In doing so he explores its tendencies and limits; he simulates its reaction to certain events and its trajectory given certain states of affairs. We do not seek to extract from Bergman’s film evidence for a philosophical doctrine, but rather interact thoughtfully with it to expand our awareness of what it means to take an existential stance. Ultimately, we hope to learn from this not propositional knowledge about the world, but how to live well in it.


  1. Andrew McLeod

    I’m not sure I feel the force of what you’re saying here, Harry. While one can always take issue with whatever definition someone tries to give of philosophy, I think Livingston’s attempt isn’t as bad as you indicate. For instance, consider Being and Nothingness, which is certainly a work of Existentialist philosophy. I wouldn’t hesitate to characterize this book as a ‘systematic investigation’ of ‘the world and our knowledge of it’ operating ’at a high level of generality and abstraction’, and would say that it concerns ‘in particular, human action and value’. It certainly makes use of ‘reasoning and argumentation’ and pays attention to ‘examples, whether actual or imagined, that may be indicative of more general patters and possibilities’. Now, it is true that the type of investigation Sartre is enacting is phenomenological rather than deductive, but I don’t see where Livingston has favored the latter.

    The sticking point here is, of course, that you think we should primarily consider Existentialism to be a way of living rather than an abstract set of principles. However, I’m not sure why I should buy this; whether or not an individual is an Existentialist seems to depend on their beliefs rather than their actions. And these beliefs are arrived at through some sort of reasoning process that seeks to make sense of the world and our experience of it, akin to any other philosophy. Whether or not these beliefs deny the existence of universal Truths or seek to subvert traditional notions of ontology, they certainly represent some propositions about the world, or our role in it.

    At a more practical level, I’m also not sure how The Seventh Seal is supposed to explore the Existentialist mindset any more than another movie might be thought to explore, for instance, a thought experiment found in the Analytic tradition. Or, to take a different type of example, what’s to stop me from making a movie that explores the ‘ethical vegetarian stance’ through consideration of the effects of food farming practices? Surely I could also believe that this movie offers, not just propositional knowledge about the world, but an exploration of how to live well in it.

  2. Harry Desmond

    Thanks for your comments Andrew. Reading my post again I agree it came off a little heavy handed, although I still think there’s something to be said along these lines. In the first place I might try to draw a distinction between philosophical literature and “philosophy proper”. As you rightly point out, the latter — which includes Being and Nothingness — has more or less the characteristics that Livingston described, even in the case of existentialist phenomenology. My concern is that it does not apply to such texts as Nausea or The Outsider, which I would not hesitate to count as performing existentialism in the fullest sense. These are not systematic, general or abstract, do not involve argumentation, and have little to say about “the nature of reality”. I think that this is where the type of philosophy under consideration comes into play. Although I agree that existentialism as a philosophy is general, it is a very peculiar kind of general which places great emphasis on the individual. This makes it uniquely amenable to being developed through an exploration of special cases. So while I agree that it is possible for a film to explore a thought experiment in the Analytic tradition, I feel that this would always be a cheapening of the philosophy (as Linvingston seems to insinuate cinema must be); Analytic philosophy in general does not accomodate or value the type of individual- or situation-specific responses that art is so apt to convey. Furthermore, convincing someone of some ethical course of action by means of cinema (that is: affectively, through pathos) would be considered strictly inferior to convincing them via logical argumentation.

    Perhaps I need to bring in more of Livingston’s discussion to make my critique more substantial — even if it’s not apparent in his definition of philosophy that I quoted, I maintain that he has unfairly disqualified art from doing philosophy by the very setup of his problematic. Let me bring in one further passage. In the first horn of his dilemma against the “bold thesis”, he says “if it is contended that the exclusively cinematic, innovative insight cannot be paraphrased, reasonable doubt arises as to its very existence”, and on p.23 he fleshes this out to argue that the viewer “should be able to give reasons in support of the belief that appeals to verbally indescribable experience or entities should exert a significant influence on philosophical opinion”. This betrays to me that his starting point is logocentrism, and it is therefore unsurprising that his conclusions are logocentric. Who can or needs to support the belief that he experiences angst? Who can give reasons for the feeling of geworfenheit? Do I doubt the existence of those things because I cannot paraphrase them? Not at all: I see them clearly in Block’s face.

  3. Andrew McLeod

    While I’m on board with your distinction between philosophy and philosophical literature (or philosophical art) in general, I don’t believe it’s capable of differentiating Existentialism from other philosophical positions in the way you’re proposing. In particular, I don’t see how philosophical literature that embodies Existentialism ‘performs Existentialism’ any more than philosophical literature might be thought to ‘perform’ another (say, Analytic) philosophical position. One can surely use philosophical literature to explore the lived implications of a wide range of philosophical positions on either side of the Analytic/Continental divide. As I take it, you’re suggesting that what sets Existentialism apart is its emphasis on radical (human) individuality, which naturally leads to an exploration how this philosophy is reflected in the lives of dissimilar individuals. But even a caricatured Analytic position that takes its precepts to be universal is amenable to an exploration of how it manifests in a variety of individual cases—for there is still the question of how these precepts should be applied to the wide range of factical situations in which (generic) individuals find themselves. Surely developing an understanding of the implications of these precepts in limiting or difficult cases doesn’t—as you suggest—cheapen the philosophical position in question, but rather gives us a deeper understanding of what’s at stake in our decision to accept this position or not. And even if you take Analytic philosophy to primarily concern itself with logical argumentation, I’m not sure why this precludes the possibility of convincing people through pathos; if the precepts of the above (caricatured) Analytic position dictate that I should act in a certain way in a given situation, but I end up being convinced that this would be the wrong way to act after watching a film, I should take this as evidence that at least one of the precepts entailed by this position should be dropped. In no way do I have to choose between logical argumentation and being convinced of something through pathos. In line with all of this, I would say that philosophical literature is capable of ‘performing’ philosophy precisely to the extent that it explores or illustrates the implications of a philosophical position (although perhaps in a way that gets beyond what can be expressed in traditional modes of philosophy). Perhaps this is just a matter of phraseology, but it accords with my inclination to say that Nausea is a work of literature that explores (or illustrates) Existentialism, instead of saying that it ‘performs Existentialism’ in some further way.

  4. Harry Desmond

    It seems we have rather different conceptions of what Analytic philosophy is. First off, I think Analytic philosophy has next to no interest in the “lived implications” of philosophical positions, and neither has it much need of exploring how its precepts are manifest in individual cases. If I formulate a clear principle (say, some version of Utilitarianism or Virtue Ethics), then the principle and its corollaries will tell me how to act. I might simulate various situations in philosophical thought experiments, but the resources that I will need to bring to bear (indeed, am mandated to bring to bear by the mode of philosophising in which I am engaged) will be neither artistic nor literary. The be-all and end-all in ethics in the Analytic tradition is principle, and if you’re needing to somehow supplement that by special dispensations in particular cases then your principles are probably not general enough. Individuals exist only to be subsumed under the rule.

    Witness the number of novels and plays written by Analytic philosophers in development of their philosophy.

    I’m not sure I follow your discussion of pathos: are you suggesting that I should drop the logical argument and embrace the pathetic one? That’s anathema to an Analytic philosopher! I should do what I have been rationally convinced is right, not what I have been tricked into by the fickleness of my emotions. One cannot simply drop logical precepts because of something one felt when watching a film. (Also this dichotomy seems to belie your following statement that I don’t have to choose between logic and pathos? If the rational argument pulls one way and the film the other, then surely I do.)

    I maintain therefore that a work like Nausea or The Seventh Seal actually develops existentialism (that is what I mean by “doing” it: existentialism was not the same philosophy after these texts), while a piece of art can at most describe or rehash Analytic philosophy. In fact I think Livingston agrees with me on the latter point, which is why he disagrees with the “bold thesis” — hence my conclusion that he has neglected modes of philosophising in which that thesis is true.

  5. Andrew McLeod

    While I personally don’t find myself attracted to Analytic philosophy (least of all in ethics), the conception of the Analytic tradition that you portray strikes me as exceedingly uncharitable. In particular, suggesting that Analytic philosophers of ethics have no interest in the lived implications of their philosophy seems to reduce to the statement that either (i) these philosophers aren’t actually engaged in the activity they take themselves to be engaged in (a claim of incompetence), or (ii) they aren’t going about this task in a way that you recognize as legitimate (which has the flavor of chauvinism). While it’s true they are usually interested in formulating principles that are universalizable, this doesn’t imply these principles aren’t held accountable to the intuitions of its practitioners in specific situations (and indeed, it is these intuitions that remain susceptible to arguments of pathos—see below). Nor are these principles more universal than the Existentialist dictum to live authentically—a notion that admits complexification when applied to individuals, but no more than Analytic principles might be complexified in response to specific situations. To admit otherwise would be to hold a double standard, and moreover ignore the existence of an entire field in Analytic philosophy called applied ethics.

    Now, there’s the separate question of the extent to which philosophical literature has been written in the Existentialist tradition, compared to the Analytic tradition broadly construed. We’re in complete agreement that there is a much more extensive literature of the former kind. What I disagree with is the idea that it is possible to accomplish something more (or different) with philosophical literature in the Existentialist tradition than in any other philosophical tradition. I’m fine with the statement that Nausea develops Existentialism, but only to the extent that ‘develops’ means ‘explores’ or ‘illustrates’, and to the extent that the same could be done to explore the implications of maintaining a certain position with respect to, say, animal rights or environmental issues. Perhaps literature in these latter categories would be less sexy and wouldn’t capture the public imagination in the way Existentialism does, but the same possibilities for development exist for these philosophical positions as in Existentialism.

    Regarding the possibility of being convinced by pathos in Analytic philosophy, all I mean to suggest is that one can remain committed to rational argumentation (and indeed specific arguments) even if convinced of something through pathos, because all arguments have premises. Rational argumentation may tell me that if I accept proposition A (one of the precepts of my ethical position, say), it follows that I am committed to proposition B (how I should act in a specific situation). If I am convinced (through pathos or otherwise) that proposition B is incorrect, I should take this to be evidence that proposition A is incorrect precisely due to my conviction that the argument is valid (modus tollens). So I do not have to pick between logic and pathos.

  6. Harry Desmond

    Of course I am claiming neither that Analytic philosophers are incompetent nor that their methods are illegitimate. They are engaged in the activity of formulating clear rational principles governing how one should act, and there is nothing unworthy in that. (Did I ever weigh in against them? I am not in the business of making value judgements here.) What I do claim is that lived experience is not a source of legitimation in that tradition. Take Peter Singer: he’s a vegetarian, gives all his money to charity, etc — and for the reason that these are the most moral choices according to preference utilitarianism. He doesn’t need to see how people live. He doesn’t care how Roquentin perceives a door handle when suffering from the Nausea, or about the precise shade of terror felt by Bloch when told by Death that he has no secrets.

    I disagree that the principles of Analytic ethics are no more universal than the existentialist dictum to live authentically. While the Analytic principle needs to be complexified to make contact with individual cases, these complexifications will either be corollaries of the principle, or the addition of ancillary principles to handle special cases. In contrast, the notion of authenticity does not even have substance before confronted with lived experience. You can’t derive corollaries of “live authentically”; it doesn’t actually tell you how to act at all, but rather the necessity of interpretation is built into its very structure. Unlike an Analytic counterpart, it’s built from the ground up. Existence precedes essence; first live, then theorise. We examine the lives of Roquentin and Bloch for the very meaning of authenticity, not because we’re interested in how some universal principle plays itself out in such and such circumstances. The nature of the “complexification” (if one wants to use the same word in both cases) is very different.

    Well I think you need to explain then why Analytic philosophers don’t write literature. Why don’t we find them writing novels in order to convince one another of various ethical issues? It’s not just that existentialist literature is sexier, it’s also much more prolific (or, at least, disproportionately so relative to the number of its practitioners). Personally I think this is precisely because it offers the possibility of accomplishing both more and different.

    Vis-a-vis your final point, I think you’ll find that such a rejection of first principles by means of pathos would be frowned upon in the Analytic tradition, if indeed it occurs at all. It’s like saying: According to Utilitarianism I should do X instead of Y, but (e.g. because of some film I watched) I feel like doing Y instead of X; therefore I reject Utilitarianism. That’s no argument against Utilitarianism! Any Analytic philosopher worth his salt would tell you to get your act together! You have been convinced of Y by illicit means — evaluate Utilitarianism on its own merits, and if you find it rationally compelling then don’t let any film convince you otherwise.

  7. Andrew McLeod

    While the aspects of lived experience that Existentialism and Analytic ethics draw on may be different in many cases, I don’t think the concept of ethical philosophy makes any sense in the absence of such experience as a legitimation mechanism. Analytic ethics isn’t conducted in a vacuum—I take it to be engaged in an essentially empathetic enterprise that extrapolates from the value judgments its practitioners have arrived at from their singular perspectives and lived experiences to an understanding of how their actions should be guided if they hold themselves accountable to the lived experience of others (lived experience they have limited resources to make sense of beyond analogy to their own). For instance, since you bring up Peter Singer I’ll quote from his book Practical Ethics:

    “Suppose then I begin to think ethically, to the extent of putting myself in the position of others affected by my decision. To know what it is like to be in their position, I must take on their preferences—I must imagine how hungry they are, how much they will enjoy the fruit and so on.”

    Is this not him trying to understand (or see) how people live? Also, such reasoning can make contact with the types of experiences you identify Roquentin and Bloch having. For instance, a parent may make the decision not to expose their young children to the ideas of Existentialism due to the disorienting effect these ideas can have (as depicted in the cases you cite). Again, I don’t see any principled difference between the methods/intuitions/experiences available to Existentialism and the Analytic tradition—they will use them to argue to different ends, but both traditions are welcome to help themselves to whatever types of evidence and reasoning they like.

    Re: universal principles, I don’t buy the distinction you’re trying to draw between a universal principle and one that isn’t universal by virtue of the fact that ‘the necessity of interpretation is built into its very structure’. As you say, the Existentialist examines individuals like Roquentin and Bloch to understand the meaning of authenticity, but it is only to the extent that this meaning can be abstracted from the factical situations in which these characters are thrown that it can hold any meaning for this Existentialist. You also suggest that the only way for Analytic principles to be complexified is through the addition of ancillary principles that apply only in special cases (I’m not sure why you consider corollaries to be complexifications). But this holds the Analytic principle to a different standard than you’re holding the dictum of authenticity to—a concept in Analytic ethics can have just as much nuance as you’re allowing this Existentialist one to have. Consider Bentham’s original statement of the principle of utility (pulled from Wikipedia):

    “By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question”

    I suggest that it’s entirely unclear from this statement how to go out into the world and live in a way that maximizes utility qua happiness. Therefore, even the paradigmatic case of Utilitarianism requires a great deal of interpretive nuance in applying the notion of happiness to divergent situations, no differently than does Existentialism to flesh out the concept of authenticity. Now, I’ll be the first to argue that Utilitarian reasoning falls on other grounds—-but I see no difference between holding a nuanced view on something like happiness (or a concept playing a similar role), and holding a nuanced view on authenticity.

    Also, I disagree that the type of argumentative move involving pathos that I describe above isn’t accepted in Analytic philosophy—it’s precisely reductio ad absurdum. I’m still not sure why you insist that Analytic philosophers are supposed to be convince by reason alone, in the absence of other types of information to inform the force of their arguments.

  8. Harry Desmond

    Since our responses are getting longer and longer without much common ground being found, I suggest we’re reaching the point where we can agree to disagree about a lot of this — at least pending further information about the methods and practices of Analytic philosophy, which I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on. I will make a few comments though.

    Certainly the same methods/intuitions/experiences are available to both Analytic and existential philosophy; the question is whether they use them in the same way. If they do make use of them in the same way as I think you are suggesting, I am left very puzzled as to the dearth of literary explorations of character, etc. You quote Singer as saying “I must imagine how hungry they are, how much they will enjoy the fruit”, but how is he going to do this? Is it enough for him that they they are indeed rather hungry and would enjoy the fruit quite a lot, and therefore should be given it? This doesn’t really require getting inside their head in a way that I contend Sartre or Bergman do (indeed, need to do in order to successfully push existentialism forward, in my sense) with Roquentin or Bloch. I need no sophisticated phenomenology to understand how someone suffers when he’s hungry, but perhaps I do to understand how someone suffers when religious or social meaning have withdrawn from their world. I also need no convincing in the former case — it’s practically common sense — while in the latter I may be incredulous that this is a legitimate source of suffering before witnessing Roquentin and Bloch. Regardless of our divergent takes on this, I think there is a genuine puzzle in the relative abundance and value of literature in the two traditions. This of course was precisely what I was trying to get at with my reaction to Livingston in the original post.

    I actually do think there is a difference in at least the treatment of happiness and authenticity in the two traditions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect that happiness is a much more basic term for Bentham than authenticity could ever be for the existentialists. Does he need to explain in detail what happiness is, what it means to be happy in various circumstances? We all know immediately and instinctively when we are happy; in fact that’s what it is to be proficient (in the ordinary language sense) with the word “happy”. In contrast, I certainly do not instinctively know when I am being authentic. Again, I’m not denying that Analytic concepts are nuanced or complex; I am simply trying to draw out the features of theirs that make them less amenable to literary exploration. I agree that I don’t know from Bentham’s statement how to go out into the world and maximise happiness (which is why corollaries and ancillary principles are required), but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what happiness is. The Analytic philosopher applies happiness in various cases; the existentialist philosopher uses various cases to try to understand what his analogue — authenticity — actually is.

    We’re talking past each other somehow on the pathos point. What do you mean by it being a reductio ad absurdum? Utilitarianism endorses action X. If I want to do Y for some other reason, that’s no fault of Utilitarianism’s. Nothing false or absurd has issued from Utilitarianism. I insist on Analytic philosophers being convinced by reason alone because I believe they are! Reason trumps all other virtues in that tradition. And further I think (and I think they think) that reason is sufficiently versatile that in the cases of interest to Analytic philosophy it suffices. An argument acquires force by virtue of its being reasonable; it doesn’t need any extra legitimation. It stands to reason (one might say) that someone suffers from being hungry, and therefore he should be fed. Developing this basic notion into some form of Utilitarianism simply requires one to exercise one’s reason more systematically and precisely.

  9. Andrew McLeod

    You keep bringing the question back to whether or not Analytic philosophers in fact use philosophical literature in the same way (and to the same extent) that Existentialist philosophers do; certainly, I agree that they don’t use these means in quite the same way or to the same ends. But what I’ve been trying to argue against is your claim that Existential philosophy is able to use philosophical literature in a qualitatively different way than can other philosophical positions (in particular, those in the Analytic tradition).

    I’m not sure I have much to add to what I’ve already said, except to address again your claim that Analytic philosophers are convinced by reason alone (and I think this gets to the core of how our views differ in this case). Reason by itself can give you, at most, valid arguments; for an argument to be convincing it also must rest on premises that one takes to be true (or even self-evident). I don’t think Analytic philosophers, as a whole, would take issue with this point. But how one finds oneself convinced of these premises has to be an inherently non-rational process, otherwise there is an infinite regression. Certainly, one’s convictions may be altered by a convincing argument, but the force of this argument will necessarily rest on a different set of convictions that one is even less willing to give up. Convictions can be equally well altered by (among many other experiences) watching a compelling movie. For instance, I don’t think any Analytic philosopher would actually claim that I have been convinced by ‘illicit means’ if I watch Full Metal Jacket and come away convinced that war is morally reprehensible; and if Utilitarianism tells me that, in general, going to war with a smaller nation would bring more people greater happiness, I would indeed say that it has given rise to a false or absurd conclusion, as long as I remain convinced of the reprehensibility of war.

    There have, indeed, been arguments put forth by some Analytic philosophers to the effect that things such as intuitions should be done away with in the realm of ethics (and maybe this is what you’ve been trying to get at). For instance, I believe Singer has expressed views along these lines (although, others have argued his reasoning in fact partakes in them); also, Herman Cappelen seemed to have found a version of this view worth advancing as recently as 2012 in his book Philosophy without Intuitions. However, David Chalmers argues against Cappelen’s position in , where he admits that he finds it “fairly obvious that many philosophers, including myself, appeal to intuitions”. The fact that this remains a point of debate (which fact I believe is borne out by a more extensive literature review) shows that such a position is not ubiquitous (or even representative), and therefore to take the view that Analytic philosophers are, as a community, ‘convinced by reason alone’ is misleading. At least some of the members of the Analytic community avail themselves of resources beyond pure reason, and are aware of doing so.

    Anyways, at this point I agree that we’ve pretty well clarified our confusions and disagreements. Thanks for entertaining my concerns, and for an excellent discussion!

    As an aside, I think the puzzle you find in the discrepancy between the amount of philosophical literature in the Existentialist and Analytic traditions is self-imposed. There’s plenty of art that grapples with the problems that Analytic philosophers are concerned with—but you seem to want to restrict the domain of interest to what Analytical philosophers themselves create. I don’t consider Bergman an Existentialist philosopher—but this doesn’t stop me from seeing Existentialist themes explored in his work. In the same way, I find environmental issues explored in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and James Cameron’s Pandora; bioethics explored in films such as Gattaca and The Island; and the ethics of war explored in an untold number of films. (We might even expand our discussion to metaphysics, where I can point to an exploration of the lived implications of the private language argument in Wittgenstein’s Mistress, or of the extent to which mental states supervene on physical states in works of art that tackle the question of sentience in artificial intelligence.) And indeed, this division into ethical questions that can be attacked in isolation is more in line with how Analytic philosophy, in my experience, tends to be conducted (although it’s been useful to consider totalizing ethical theories for purposes of this discussion). It’s true that Existentialism has had proponents that were both philosophers and literary figures, but to the extent that The Seventh Seal is just as much an Existential work as is Nausea, I contend this can only have contributed to the unity of these philosophers’ visions and nothing more. It seems to me that a film like Gattaca relates to bioethics in basically the same way that The Seventh Seal relates to Existentialism, and that the latter deals directly with Existential philosophy (as found in Being and Time) no more than the former deals with debates on bioethics in philosophical journals. Both of these artworks may be drawn on by the philosophical tradition, but neither artworks are engaged in philosophy proper. Anyways, I don’t think anything I’ve said above relies on this point—but this is why I don’t feel the force of the puzzle you identify quite as acutely as it appears you do.

  10. Harry Desmond

    Glancing through the Oakeshott again for another post, I realise my thinking on this topic is rather similar to his (indeed he may have been a subconscious influence in my writing to you). We read this for first week so you may have missed it — if so it’s excellent and you should definitely read it. He begins

    There are philosophers who assure us that all human utterance is in one mode. They recognise a certain variety of expression, they are able to distinguish different tones of utterance, but they hear only one authentic voice”

    which is the voice of philosophy (or science). That’s been more or less my model for Analytic philosophy, where the authentic voice is the voice of reason. (As an aside, this relates to Sivia’s post on Philosophy and Thinking: while the goal of the Analytic philosopher such as Wittgenstein is simplification, that of the Continental philosopher is often complexification, and that often by means of thinking and writing verging on the poetic.)

    I’m sceptical that crucial premises of the types of argument one finds in Analytic philosophy are inherently non-rational. My notion of rationality (and I believe Analytic philosophers’) includes such “common-sensical” statements as the fact that one suffers when hungry, that it’s bad to suffer, or that killing people is wrong, which form the basis of ethical theories. But that’s merely to reiterate what I’ve already said.

    Thank you for pointing out the weak points in my post! I think we’ve learnt some things.

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