Friday, June 23, 2017

Wittgenstein, Religion, and the Problem of Life

If this post title doesn't bring in readers...

"The way to solve the problem you see in life is to live in a way that will make the problematic disappear.
     The fact that life is problematic shows that the shape of your life does not fit into life's mould. So you must change the way you live and, once your life does fit into the mould, what is problematic will disappear.
     But don't we have the feeling that someone who sees no problem in life is blind to something important, even to the most important thing of all?"(CV 27e)

Seems to me we have two things going on here:
1. Your problem is a lack of alignment with life. The problem is to get in alignment.
2. The problem is something important about life itself.

Does 1 contradict 2? Wittgenstein goes on to say that if you see the problem correctly it isn't a sorrow but a joy. So the problem exists, but is a good thing?

Well, what to make of that? A little later we get:
"In the course of our conversations Russell would often exclaim 'Logic's hell!'...
      I believe the main reason for feeling like this was the following fact: that every time some new linguistic phenomenon occurred to us, it could be retrospectively show that our previous explanation was unworkable....
     But that is the difficulty Socrates gets into trying to give the definition of a concept."(CV 30e)

This makes it sound hopeless, that is, trying to fit everything into a conceptual scheme that satisfies you logically, much less existentially.

     So, what does this have to do with religion? Well, we can try to solve our existential worries by bringing our thinking into alignment with life, but it seems to be impossible on two counts: the problem is in life itself, every solution produces other problems. If religion is a system of reference, perhaps a system of reference trying to solve the 'problem of life', does the above mean that these schemes are destined to fail? Or that they can only succeed by ignoring the problems they give rise to logically or otherwise? How can ANY system satisfy every question? I've met people, religious and not religious, who seemed to have an answer to everything. And while I did come way from these conversations unable to refute their position based on what I could figure out about their presuppositions,  I also came away feeling they were missing something. Something big. The problem of life. In fact, it seemed a kind of insanity.

What's the answer here? No answer? Serial answers? Distracting myself with questions? Politics? My whole life there's seemed to be a problem, but my experience has revealed thus far that there is no answer, at least for me.


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