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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Being offended by religion / Authenticity and the Self

01 JUNE 14 Race, religion & reaction to the story that went global - Everyday Ethics (BBC - not available online):

David McAfee on the Peter Robinson Islam Row: When I think of the Moslem teaching, I mean I could be offended as well when I read the Koran and read that I'm referred to as an infidel. I could be offended but I'm not offended because my faith is stronger than to be offended. 'Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them'. So why should I be offended by any comment that anyone makes?...

[Interview with Simon Blackburn by William Crawley] ‘What kinds of advice is that? Exactly? I think there is a myth which possibly started with the Renaissance or possibly with the Protestants and Puritan ideas that, you know, deep down, there's a complete nugget of goodness at the center of each of us, and if we just ourselves will uncover that nugget and everything will be absolutely fine and dandy. I think that's a myth. It's a myth of authenticity. The idea that if you're authentic, then you can't go wrong. It's there in Shakespeare. Polonius says to Hamlet, you know: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false. That’s just not true. I mean, your real self might be kind of Tony Blair or something.’

‘You might be a psychopath’...

‘And also that view of the self you've just described gives the impression that the self is somehow fixed across time... whereas we change. I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago.’...

‘When you know, Hollywood or myth I mean serious myths than the ones Hollywood produces try to portray integrity and authenticity, they often portray it in very cardboard terms. They make it simple for the John Wayne figure. What's right just shines out and he's going to do it, and he's never deflected. And he's single minded, and eventually he wins. Life isn't like that. We're very seldom faced with problems which require us to be single minded, or to find the solution obvious or simple. Most of living well requires compromises and little deviations, and subtleties and so on. And actually, although Shakespeare gave us that quotation, it's interesting that it was in the mouth of Polonius, who's a bit of a simpleton. And Hamlet is very conflicted Hamlet, you know, he's the archetypal hero who doesn't really know what to do. And dithers and delays and is torn, and that's part of what makes him so sympathetic and great.’

‘There's a corollary of this in terms of the notion of meaning and how it connects with the self. You sometimes talk to people who say, I, you know, I'm having a midlife crisis or something, I haven't found the meaning of my life, as if it's something that you find, rather than something that you generate, for example, through the projects and ambition and creativity… How do you challenge that notion of fixity of meaning?’

‘Well, I think you have to point out that life is a process. It's like gardening. There's no such thing as the meaning of gardening, but you cultivate your flowers, you cultivate your plot, you do what you can. You watch the seasons come and go, and you take pleasure if you're the right kind of mindset in the process. And that's the same with life. So if you've got the right kind of mindset, you'll take pleasure in bringing up your children and doing a job well, in taking well deserved holidays, whatever it is. There's one thing after another and the the art is to bring it about that you're satisfied with one thing after another. And if you're not satisfied with it, you can either change the way you're living or change yourself to become satisfied.’
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