Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nagel’s View on Life’s Meaning Shown Throughout the Semester

Nagel points out that we can’t mediate a meaning to life because we cannot balance out the struggle between subjective and objective. Through class we have constantly seen this struggle with every unit.

First there was the despite over knowledge and whether we can really know anything. This comes down to the fact that everything we do is in literal definition a subjective experience, and additionally that means we cannot see outside that own view to know if we are being fooled, if we are alone, if there is another different reality, or if our lives have a different value than we thought. The quest and claim that real knowledge exists is an objective claim, that there is something solid and concrete that we all will see the same.

Then there was identity. Here it came down to what makes someone who they are, is it is a soul or conscious, or their psychological properties alone, or their body and its state. We want ourselves and our existence to last forever, that is the idea of eternal life and as a result we believe that our subjective will endure past our objective self, the body. However at the same we want to look at the facts, what might be physical is what might be all there is. Objectively we all only see and realize death, so how we can affirm there is anything after without objective proof?

Next comes free will and determinism. Free will is based on the subjective point of view that we decide everything we do. However objectively from outside our points of views we know that there are things outside of our control that influence our choices. Things that happen to us before we can remember shape our personality, recent previous events and circumstances shape our judgment. Ultimately previous experience and genetics influence everything we do to a heavy degree, especially previous experience. And if there is only one past that can only shape our future in one way, then how is our future not inevitable? Determinism clings to the idea that it is inevitable.

Finally there was morality which came down to the struggle between Utilitarianism and Kantianism, both of which are on completely opposite ends of the subjective vs. objective spectrum. Kantianism is a completely subjective application to moral ethics because it worries about whether the person is moral from their own point of view, regardless of if the outcome or result benefits the greater good or society. Then the objective approach is taken by utilitarianism. It is says that actions must taken that benefits the objective world in the best way possible. It says that as long as the beneficial outcome is achieved we, it’s okay to use question and sometimes unmoral methods. It also says the one must make sacrifices for the greater good.

So it has been shown that objectivity and subjectivity go head in philosophy all the time. These issues are only basic ones and as the view of the world gets more complicated and complex these two will continue to collide. Hopefully one day there will be a solution. When that day comes we will have the meaning to life.

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