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Thursday, January 06, 2011

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is life a joke?

Is life a joke? Short essay by Miguel and message from Peter.
Dear friends,
This Sunday we are discussing: Is life a joke?
We are also lucky that Miguel wrote a short essay for his topic.
When we say that Life is a joke we usually are expressing incredulity.
Maybe after an instance of unfairness or worse, fortuitous misfortune by
nature or human design. We might also use the expression to convey a
meaning of futility of life. An idea, maybe , that life if not worth living.
Life may or may not be worth living, but some might say this is what we
have. But as Miguel points out in his short essay, there is more to life
than just the down side.
Is life a joke? By Miguel
Here's life amazingly producing beings like you and me. I don't know if
this happens to you, but in my case it has added too the drive for
happiness. I've found many persons with this same drive. I think we are
on the safe side if we assume that most of us have it: we may get
happiness in many different ways, but the drive is common to us all.
Now see what else life provides us with: moments of plenitude and joy.
Ok: this goes along the happiness line, perfect. Then there are those
moments of unhappiness linked to illness, old age, boredom, unfulfilled
wishes... you name it. To cap it all, life gives us death, the ultimate
joy killer (no pun intended). There doesn't seem to be a matching drive
for those things, only one that tries to avoid them! So, no match: one
can legitimate think that life is a joke.
Enter religion. You may be content living a joke, but this doesn't seem
to be as catchy as the drive aforementioned. Many persons feel really
uneasy being part of a joke, so some embark onto an interpretation of
life that suits their needs. Do you want to be happy? Believe this, do
this, make a donation. Do you want to live after death and be happy even
then? Believe this... Do you want to suffer less while receiving
punches?... Not all is trade here: there are men of religion that strive
for others' happiness in an unconditional, loving manner at hospitals,
hospices, charities and schools.
Enter philosophy. You are the kind of person that likes challenges. You
feel a bit suspicious of beliefs that, at the end of the day, seem shaky
and arbitrary. The quick fix provided by religion is not for you: you do
cherish the ol' common sense that has served you well so far, so you
start your own search. Good. But the search is tough you know: so many
things said, so many theories proposed by philosophers now and then...
how to test them all? And what about my own judgement? Is it to be
trusted? Why should I be better at this discover-how-to-be-happy craze
than others?
Of course, life being a joke is just another interpretation, like the
ones of religion or philosophy, but not as popular nowadays. It seems
relevant to explore the question: is there an interpretation of life
that is more legitimate than others?
In science a theory is considered better than competing ones if it
explains and predicts more without being contradictory. This may serve
as a guide here, but let's not get carried away: the foundation of
science is agreed measure -i.e.: agreed comparison-, and to my knowledge
there is no way to agree on, or even measure, happiness in religion or
philosophy.
But wait! I could well not agree with you on the intensity of my
happiness now, but "I" can feel it, and "I" can compare it with the one
"I" had yesterday... This is a subjective measure, but serves the
purpose: "I" have my own way to tell what is best for me, and this could
be enough for now... or not?
The long term. Things get complicated in the long run. It's easy to see
that certain flavors of happiness are inextricably linked to extreme
misery. Think of drugs. But what about habits that provide happiness and
comfort in the short term, but don't show an ugly face till it's too
late? Think of consumerism and the environment. Could religion be one of
these instant-happiness providers with long term effects? Moreover,
could those effects, in fact, being felt now: division among men,
terrorism in the name of god, frontal attacks to common sense, political
use of the very religion...?
Is there something essentially different to religion, science or
philosophy that renders dualities like happiness/misery, life/death,
wisdom/ignorance blithely accepted? Let's get a tad radical: could that
something be brought about by the cessation of all searching and all
theory elaboration, i.e. by the cessation of thought? By the pure, non
intellectual, contemplation of things around? Is it feasible? Could
peace, sheer bliss and beauty be part of that something?
Very nice and very fancy, worth exploring, thank you... In the meantime
let me give a try at The Joke Theory of Life, at least with it I am not
only allowed, but invited to laugh at the punch line.
Miguel
In the meantime Peter is still looking for a flat mate:
------- Peter has asked me once again to remind you that he is looking
for someone to share his flat with in Mostoles close to public
transport; very good conditions. Central heating and central hot water.
There two rooms to rent out: a single and a double: tel 609257259 (LJCB
Note: one of the rooms might be taken, not sure which one).

All the best

Lawrence

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from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is life a joke?

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