I produced a number of revision documents for my degree course, and maybe someone will find them useful. This is for A222 Exploring Philosophy, Book 2, The Philosophy of Religion.
|The Chaplain in The Meaning of Life|
If he does decide to undergo [what lay before him], then some desire propels him on into the future, and that desire at least is not one that operates conditionally on his being alive, since it itself resolves the question of whether he is going to be alive. He has an unconditional, or (as I shall say) a categorical desire. (p.85-86)I’m not sure this distinction is altogether valid. For example, someone might judge that some contingent desires will be satisfied tomorrow; one might not be hungry today, since one's appetite has been satisfied for the moment, but one knows that, come tomorrow, hunger will return, so a fresh opportunity to satisfy one's renewed appetite can be anticipated. Is that not then a categorical desire? Williams suggests this may be when he says that a basic categorical desire might be one ‘that future desires of mine will be born and satisfied’ (p.87). If the categorical desire is to acquire or satisfy future contingent desires then those contingent desires surely become categorical (being the object of a categorical desire)?
|Nadja Michael as Emilia Marty, aka Elina Makropulos, in Věc Makropulos. |
Photo by Cory Weaver.
The point is rather that boredom, as sometimes in more ordinary circumstances, would be not just a tiresome effect, but a reaction almost perceptual in character to the poverty of one's relation to the environment. (p.95)This ‘almost perceptual’ response is a reaction to eternity: what happens to the categorical desires, such as nurturing family, when there is no end in sight? His suggestion is that they will inevitably evaporate, and unless there is a guarantee against this, we should reject immortality. Formally the argument can be stated:
Premise 1: In order for one’s life to be meaningful (and ‘recognisably human’ – Angelic lives are irrelevant), one must have a set of categorical desires that one wishes to satisfy.Bruckner’s objections
Premise 2: Contingent desires alone cannot make life meaningful.
Premise 3: If one lived forever in a recognisably human form, one would exhaust one’s set of categorical desires and become bored and apathetic as a result.
Conclusion: Living forever in a recognisably human form would not be meaningful.
1) That ‘the natural degradation of our memories would help to keep endlessly repeated experiences interesting’ (Bruckner, 2012, p.626)Memory decay
2) That people naturally regain a taste for an activity once some time has elapsed.
3) That human ingenuity will generate new categorical desires.
So pursuing that career again would provide a new-feeling, worthwhile, and enjoyable experience. One would be coming at it fresh. (p.630)
Riding a bicycle is good as a means of transportation and of exercise, but is also enjoyable in its own right. (p.634)True enough, but there are at least two objections here:
1) We are not making the right evaluation of our categorical desires, andFirst, if we take computer programming, for instance, our categorical desire may be to write a ground-breaking piece of software that mediates all international disputes to the satisfaction of all parties. Or, it may be to achieve world peace. The first looks like a new desire, but is in fact a way of achieving the second, pre-existing, desire. The suspicion is that however much technology advances it just provides new ways to pursue a finite list of human categorical desires. Unless the nature of humanity changes, these desires will not, and part of being recognisably human is to have a certain limited set of categorical desires.
2) We are assuming infinite human ingenuity.
One of the driving forces behind the Union’s creation was the remorseless logic that greater economic strength and security come from being united. Not the transient and shifting benefits of international alliance, but the fundamental strength of being one people. Those enduring economic strengths are obvious. Our wholly integrated domestic market for businesses means no barriers to trade within our borders. That has always been of immense value to firms here in ?.
They think independence is the answer to every question in every circumstance, regardless of fact and reality. It simply does not add up and we should never stop saying so.
The broad shoulders of ? provide enviable security for businesses and workers alike.
Ten years ago, banks headquartered in Edinburgh and London, which employ tens of thousands of people and look after the savings of millions, were rescued by the ?. Action that was only possible because of the size and strength of the ? economy.
In the oil and gas sector – a vital industry on oureast coast, from Aberdeen to Lowestoft – the broad shoulders of our wider economy have allowed the ? to take unprecedented action to support the sector following the decline in the international oil price. And public spending here in ? has been protected, even as North Sea tax receipts have dwindled to nothing. Time and again the benefits of the Union – of doing together, collectively, what would be impossible to do apart – are clear. Indeed the economic case for the Union has never been stronger. There is no economic case for breaking up the ?, or of loosening the ties which bind us together.
The ? has led the world in developing a strategy for preventing violent extremism, and we are working with our allies to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist Extremism. It is firmly in our national interest to defeat Daesh and the ideology of Islamic extremism that inspires them and many others terrorist groups in the world today. In this task, we are fortunate to draw on intelligence provided by the finest security agencies in the world and the greatest armed forces anywhere.
The pooling and sharing of risks and resources on the basis of need across our ? is the essence of our unity as a people. All of the practical benefits which flow from our Union, and which are hallmarks of it, depend on that deep and essential community of interest which we all share. It has been shaped by geography and refined by history. And it has shown itself to be adaptable.
A tunnel vision nationalism, which focuses only on independence at any cost, sells ? short. As Unionists, our job is clear. We know we are united together by a proud shared history, but we are also bound together by enduring common interests.
The ? we cherish is not a thing of the past, but a Union vital to our prosperity and security, today and in the future. The Union I am determined to strengthen and sustain is one that works for working people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A ? which everyone can feel secure in. A Union in which our national and local identities are recognised and respected, but where our common bonds are strengthened. Where difference and diversity are celebrated, but where those things we share are celebrated just as much.
Because at the heart of the ? is the unity of our people: a unity of interests, outlook and principles.The question marks refer to Scotland and the UK, or stand-in's for, and their institutions. These can be swapped for the UK and the EU and the arguments stand pretty much as strong. Yet May is hell-bent on ensuring a hard departure from the EU. Strange times.
Because politics is not a game and government is not a platform from which to pursue constitutional obsessions.Ha!