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Bloggingheads 09-27-2009 09:23 AM

Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 

Iuvo 09-27-2009 10:33 AM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Excellent diavlog. I also have a question: how would our perspective on death change if we somehow lived far longer than we do now or were immortal?

Ocean 09-27-2009 12:46 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Some interesting topics were brought up by the diavloggers. It certainly brought up memories of my teenage/early twenties years sitting with my friends at a café in my old country, chatting for hours while smoking cigarettes and drinking espressos...

Is obsession with death a guy thing? I don't know. How many guys are obsessed with death? It's possible that there is higher percentage of men as compared to women who are obsessed with death. My father used to say (I don't know where he got it from) that we start to die the very moment we are born. I grew up accepting that to some degree. I could relate to the comment about dealing with mortality through your children's survival quite well. At some level immortality is manifested by the survival of the species (group) and not so much that of the individual.

They also talked about abandoning neuroticism as you age, and they used the metaphor of stopping being like Woody Allen. I must confess I felt strongly identified with Woody Allen a couple of times during the diavlog. Not so much with his neuroticism, but with his impatience while waiting on line at the theater...

I'm looking forward to other commenters' views.

Francoamerican 09-27-2009 01:43 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 131513)
They also talked about abandoning neuroticism as you age, and they used the metaphor of stopping being like Woody Allen. I must confess I felt strongly identified with Woody Allen a couple of times during the diavlog. Not so much with his neuroticism, but with his impatience while waiting on line at the theater...

I'm looking forward to other commenters' views.

Woody Allen summed it up nicely: "I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens."

Philosophers have nothing new to say on this subject. Everything has already been said. They might as well close up shop and go home.

whatsinthename 09-27-2009 03:22 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
I listened to almost the whole thing .... to me it seemed that either knowingly or unknowingly, both the speakers stayed away from talking any substance on the matter. I concluded that based on the fact that, someone like me who has never really thought about mortality in any detail before, goes away with nothing new from the discussion. The only positive I see is that I find myself interested in this topic. What do we (humanity) really understand about mortality?

Wonderment 09-27-2009 04:06 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Is obsession with death a guy thing? I don't know. How many guys are obsessed with death?
As the poster who loves to impersonate a psychiatrist when you're not around, I would suggest that whenever people (men or women) talk about an "obsession" (as these two did repeatedly) they should be taken at their word.

Obsessions are (by definition) pathological. So, like W. Allen, whom you mention, they seem to have channeled the pathology into a way to make a respectable living.

Of course, the people who are REALLY obsessed with death are often chronically (or terminally) suicidal, a condition that affects both males and females.

I'd be interested in your observations on similarities and differences in suicidal thoughts by gender. I know that means of suicide is tilted in favor of guns for men and pills for women, but beyond that I don't know much.

I'm only about 20 min. in, so I may have more to comment later.

Ocean 09-27-2009 04:35 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 131525)
I'm only about 20 min. in, so I may have more to comment later.

I'll be interested in your thoughts after you finish.


Quote:

As the poster who loves to impersonate a psychiatrist when you're not around, ...
I noticed that a few days ago. I'm not the one to stop you if that makes you happy...

Quote:

I would suggest that whenever people (men or women) talk about an "obsession" (as these two did repeatedly) they should be taken at their word.

Obsessions are (by definition) pathological. So, like W. Allen, whom you mention, they seem to have channeled the pathology into a way to make a respectable living.
There is a technical (psychiatric) use of the word "obsession" and a popular, layperson use of the same. I take from this talk that they are using it in the non-psychiatric sense. They use it as you would use preoccupation.


Quote:

Of course, the people who are REALLY obsessed with death are often chronically (or terminally) suicidal, a condition that affects both males and females.
It seemed to me that the main topic wasn't about morbid preoccupation with death, but rather preoccupation with mortality. Those are very different concepts as you surely know.

Quote:

I'd be interested in your observations on similarities and differences in suicidal thoughts by gender. I know that means of suicide is tilted in favor of guns for men and pills for women, but beyond that I don't know much.
Most of what we know in terms of suicidal thoughts comes from people who do not commit suicide. It comes from people who entertain the idea or from those who engage in "suicidal behaviors" (attempts, gestures). The ratio between suicide attempts and completed suicides is higher for women. Here are some statistics from the CDC and an excerpt:

Quote:

Males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 79.0% of all U.S. suicides.1
• During their lifetime, women attempt suicide about two to three times as often as men.5
• Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for males and the sixteenth leading cause for females.1
• Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75 and older (rate 35.7 per 100,000).1
• Suicide rates for females are highest among those aged 45-54 (rate 8.4 per 100,000 population).1
• Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide among males (56.0%).1
• Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females (40.3%.
The rest of the website is here.

Anyuser 09-27-2009 05:06 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 131528)
It seemed to me that the main topic wasn't about morbid preoccupation with death, but rather preoccupation with mortality. Those are very different concepts as you surely know.

What do you mean?

Ocean 09-27-2009 05:41 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Anyuser (Post 131531)
What do you mean?

Morbid preoccupation with death implies that the person would think of one's own death as something desirable or fascinating in some obscure way. Preoccupation with mortality implies fear of death, or examining the philosophical implications of being mortals.

Wonderment 09-27-2009 06:18 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

I'll be interested in your thoughts after you finish.
I didn't finish. They lost me when they veered into the genre talk. I would like to read the Dead Philosopher book, however. That sounded really interesting to me.

Quote:

There is a technical (psychiatric) use of the word "obsession" and a popular, layperson use of the same. I take from this talk that they are using it in the non-psychiatric sense. They use it as you would use preoccupation.
Well, they are writers and choose words carefully. And they chose this one several times each. Maybe they're seriously obsessed. Or at least the preoccupation is unusually extreme, which they seem to recognize. I do understand your distinction between clinical obsession and vernacular "obsession."

I was also skeptical of the mellowing-as-you-age theory. I know way too many angry, anxious and adolescent-like old men to think that aging (especially at their age) calms the raging passions.

Finally, I couldn't believe these two thought the Grok joke attributed to Groucho Marx was funny. That was one of the least funny jokes I ever heard. So bad it wasn't even groan-inducing. If Groucho actually put that into one of his comedy routines, he wouldn't even have been able to work Bar Mitzvahs, much less movies and television.

Ocean 09-27-2009 06:36 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 131545)
I was also skeptical of the mellowing-as-you-age theory. I know way too many angry, anxious and adolescent-like old men to think that aging (especially at their age) calms the raging passions.

There are people who don't seem to mature. Or there are others that just can't give up their anger. But, outside these pathological cases, for the most part people do mellow with age. Perhaps you could say that they are able to control their emotional states better. In other cases, it may come as a realization that rage doesn't lead to well being. I do agree that the biological flattening of affective states comes at a later time in life.

Quote:

Finally, I couldn't believe these two thought the Grok joke attributed to Groucho Marx was funny. That was one of the least funny jokes I ever heard. So bad it wasn't even groan-inducing. If Groucho actually put that into one of his comedy routines, he wouldn't even have been able to work Bar Mitzvahs, much less movies and television.
It certainly contained enough dark irony to elicit at most a weak grimace. Perhaps they were just bad at telling the story as a joke.

unhumeroso 09-27-2009 08:05 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Fascinating diavlog, I loved the deconstruction of David Lynch and the back and forth regarding a philosophy of humor as the death of feeling? Never heard that before. It was sort of comical listening to David as he kept trying to ambush Simon with Nietzsche or Camus quotes while sort of saying, " I noticed this wasn't included in your book, but..." Quote versus quote.

Baltimoron 09-27-2009 08:16 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Is obsession with death a guy thing?
I haven't listened to the diavlog yet. But, as much as this is a serious question, my wife's attitudes might offer a clue. Whereas men think somewhat solipsistically and selfishly about metaphysics and pain, women dwell on the loss of human and material support that occurs at the end of life, and usually a proxy like money becomes important. Quality of life is related to others , like family members, and death removes those multipliers. Illness also often comes with death, so again human and material support is key.

Ocean 09-27-2009 08:42 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Baltimoron (Post 131557)
I haven't listened to the diavlog yet. But, as much as this is a serious question, my wife's attitudes might offer a clue. Whereas men think somewhat solipsistically and selfishly about metaphysics and pain, women dwell on the loss of human and material support that occurs at the end of life, and usually a proxy like money becomes important. Quality of life is related to others , like family members, and death removes those multipliers. Illness also often comes with death, so again human and material support is key.

According to your comment it appears that women may be more preoccupied with life than with death. Or to put it more accurately, they would be preoccupied with end of life issues. I wonder whether some of that comes from the traditional role of women as caregivers and making sure the home logistics are right. The diavloggers vaguely mentioned something about love being another way of dealing with mortality, through children and the like.

harkin 09-27-2009 10:28 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
What is it they say in Shawshank? "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'"

Too busy livin to think about dying, but I do think about my folks (74 and 80) and what will need to be done should one of them pass away anytime soon. It would seem to me that any person who is obsessing on their own mortality does not have enough to do. Thinking about death and the afterlife just seems pointless until you're forced to deal with it....which is when you learn the answer, why dwell on it when there are more timely things to deal with? To me it's like worrying about what suit you'll wear or what music they play at your funeral.....who the hell gives a rat's.....?

Interesting that it's suggested that dwelling on death is a 'guy thing'. None of my numerous male friends has ever talked about death, much less has obsessed on it out loud to me. I think they are all too busy living also. The only person from my life who talked about death was a kid I went to high school with who always dressed in black and was whatever they were before they called them goths, emos, whatever. He was a frustrated artist who everybody thought was a drag and he died of an overdose in his 20s.

If my philosophy is an example of ignorance as bliss, I can live with it because I am living and not obsessing over something I have no control over whatsoever.

If they wanted to tell a life/death joke they could have used Woody Allen's from the beginning of Annie Hall about the two women in the Catskills restaurant...."and such small portions".

And Michael Powell, Buster Keaton, Michael Verhoeven, Carol Reed, Alexander MacKendrick, William Wellman, William Wyler...Kurosawa, Kazan, Ritt, Huston, Walsh, Ford, Wilder.....just about anyone over David Lynch any day.

basman 09-28-2009 12:03 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
I tried to listen attentively but couldn't get my mind off dying.

Grok aka Itzik Basman

Ocean 09-28-2009 06:33 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 131620)
I tried to listen attentively but couldn't get my mind off dying.

Grok aka Itzik Basman

Don't give up yet. There's hope... :)

Markos 09-28-2009 11:37 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
That Nietzsche quote about every joke being "an epigraph on the death of feeling" ignores the fact that laughter (at a funny joke) brings with it a feeling.
That feeling is one of joy, exhilaration, relief and even sometimes approaching or attaining bliss. I dispute the notion that only sadness, grief, suffering, anger and pain are feelings. Which seems to be the implication of the Nietzsche quote. If one goes beyond the short-sighted Nietzschean view of jokes, one might postulate that humor expresses the ultimate truth of life. A view that ultimately all of life might be laughed about, as well as cried about. And laughter and tears are both capable of taking us to a feeling of bliss. Which might actually be a form of love.
(I suppose the word "bliss" might be seen as corny by some. Especially after the overly quoted line about following it. Regardless of that association, I think bliss is a very real and important feeling.)
And when you consider someone like Larry David and his show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where he finds great humor in things like cancer, the death of his mother, racial attitudes, vanities, pettiness, etc., I think you can find in that an unspoken underlying philosophy that arrives at the joy beyond the sorrow. The Nietzsche quote is very short-sighted. The ultimate truth of our human life MIGHT BE the JOY and sometimes bliss of laughter.

ledocs 10-04-2009 04:18 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Adorno, Nietzsche, Lawrence, Freud, Derrida, Foucault, David Lynch, David Foster Wallace, Hume, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Hobbes, Descartes, Cioran, Epicurus, Lucretius, Plato, Pascal, Camus. How the fuck did they get through this without mentioning Heidegger, not even once, the guy who was *the professor* of mortality? This diavlog was very annoying. "Right, exactly, precisely so, have you read X?"

"Yes, I've read everything and seen everything, except that I have not read `Being and Time,' because its author was a Nazi. Excuse me, please, I have to run, I have a meeting with my publisher."

Wait, I've mellowed, I'm pushing 60, I loved it. It was crackling with insight, and the name-dropping was of a very high order, although I can't give it a total thumbs-up, because Heidegger, Hegel, and Kant were not mentioned, although I may have missed the references, as I missed the references to Plato that my wife assures me were there.

Francoamerican 10-05-2009 02:49 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 132566)
How the fuck did they get through this without mentioning Heidegger, not even once, the guy who was *the professor* of mortality? This diavlog was very annoying. "Right, exactly, precisely so, have you read X?"

Eddy Murphy speaks Heidegger (apocryphally):

What be 'Be'? You cain't say that 'Be' be, cause you saying 'be' to talk about 'Be', and it don't mean nothing to say 'Be" be dis or "Be" be dat. 'Be' be 'Be' to begin wit. So don't you be saying 'Be' be 'Be.' You wanna talk about 'Be', you gotta talk about what ain't nothing at all. You gotta say 'Be' be what 'ain't-Be.' Now when you ain't be nothin' at all? Dat be when you be daid. When you daid you ain't be nothing, you just be daid. So 'Be' be somewhere between where you be and where you ain't be, dat is, when you be daid. Any time you say 'Be' you is also saying 'ain't be', and dat make you think about being daid.

My gratitude to Spengler.

That sums it up, I guess.

claymisher 10-05-2009 03:04 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
I've never got Heidegger at all. He's one of those emperor's new clothes deals, right?

ledocs 10-06-2009 06:30 AM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Claymisher: Wrong.

Franco: Is the Spengler you refer to a comedian, someone other than Oswald Spengler? I'm a bit confused there.

Francoamerican 10-06-2009 01:35 PM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 132733)
Claymisher: Wrong.

Franco: Is the Spengler you refer to a comedian, someone other than Oswald Spengler? I'm a bit confused there.

Spengler was the nom de plume of a journalist who used to write for the Asian Times. He may still. I got the Eddy Murphy impersonation of Heidegger lingo from him.

I agree with you that Claymisher is wrong. But you have to admit, Heidegger is a tough nut to crack.

ledocs 10-07-2009 01:10 AM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
I'm not a Heidegger scholar by any means. I've read a fair amount of Heidegger in translation, but that's already a major concession, obviously. Heidegger is the major figure of continental philosophy in the 20th century. To say that he is an emperor without clothes is to say that continental philosophy in the 20th century was worthless. Heidegger was regarded as an intellectual giant by a lot of very smart people. Also, Heidegger started out to be a mathematician, just as Husserl had. He knew something about science and the scientific mind. The single most important thing to understand about Heidegger, I think, is his critique of the technological impulse of modern civilization. The quest for Being is in large part a retreat from technology/Western science, and from instrumentalism in general. Philosophy begins when instrumentalism ends. At the very least, one has to be conscious of any instrumentalism before philosophy can occur.

I tried listening to Hubert Dreyfus's lectures on "Being and Time," which are available at UC Berkeley's website of course podcasts, a site that is to be commended to one and all. While I recommend the website, I can't recommend Dreyfus's lectures. I also don't recommend the other course I audited, which was a course about population in the Geography Department. But there must be some good courses available on that site.

Francoamerican 10-07-2009 03:15 AM

Re: Percontations: The Diavlog of Dead Philosophers
 
ledocs writes....

I've read a few things by Heidegger, in translation and on several foolhardy occasions in German, including Being and Time. I agree that if you consider Heidegger a naked emperor, much of 20th-century "continental" philosophy is naked too. That seems to be the view of many Anglo-American philosophers. But in my opinion many of them are scantily clad too, besides being boring.

Heidegger thought about serious problems even if his vocabulary sometimes borders on gibberish---at least in English and French. But his reflections on death, science, nihilism (technological and political) as well as his commentaries on Kant and Nietzsche are well worth reading.

I'll check out the Dreyfus lectures.


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