Saturday, October 03, 2009


Pascalian thought: Humans face an incorrigible mortality that drives us to distractions designed to overcome the inevitable by means of the impossible: finding satisfaction and release through empty activity that masquerades as worthwhile.


Sarah Schoonmaker said...

Along with the Pascalian thought that humanity lives in denial of its mortality through pseudo-worthwhile activities, individuals also fight against their innate void or epistemic loneliness by filling it with that which cannot satisfy.

To facilitate a passive, easy-way-out approach to the human experience, culture teaches individuals to avoid struggle or seriousness at all cost despite the fact that these remain crucial elements of wholeness and meaningfulness. I would add that engagement in community, in service, and the study of philosophy helps free individuals from unfulfilling pursuits.

John McGraw author of "Loneliness, its nature and forms: an existential perspective," with similarity to Sartre, speaks to the human condition quite well.

"consciousness can be thought of as a hole in Being, or nothingness. Just as nature abhors a vacuum consciousness abhors its own vacuous vortex and is constrained to seek in futility the plentitude of Being in order to fill up the lack, or non-being, that it is. One attempts to unite the emptiness and nothing that comprise his consciousness (Being-for-itself) with the fullness of Being, as objectively instantiated by the non-conscious Being-in-itself. However, according to some philosophers, this unity is impossible, and thus humans are nothing but a futile frustration to be something they cannot."

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

McGraw and Sartre discern something of the human problem, but, without a view of creation and fall, have no way to explain it or give any healing advise on how to deal with it.

Consciousness is not a hole in being; it is fundamental in Being: in the beginning, God created. God is a conscious-moral agent. God then created us in his image and likness. This involves consciousness of God, ourselves, others, and nature. Our consciousness is finite; God's is infinite or unlimited. As such, we should depend on God for our ultimate perspective, the unifying reality to explain our lives and give us meaning. But if we don't (and this is the essence of the fall) we seek our lesser things. Or, we simply make the issue--consciousness, its nature and proper function--into a surd, a nothingness.

That is not the way of truth, of the Gospel, of the living God revealed in Jesus Christ. It is Christ whom Pascal offers as the answer to the human problem of diversion.