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Philosophy

On Albert Camus

Camus

 

I was first attracted by Camus, "prince of the absurd" when I was 16. Camus still fascinates me, now well beyond what would have been his 100th birthday, and 60 years after his premature death in a car crash in Burgundy (it's said that he was found with an unused train ticket in his pocket - he'd planned to go by rail to Paris to rejoin his wife and children, but had accepted at the last minute the offer of a lift from his publisher).

On Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre
Halcyon In Kal… 15 August 2020

 

Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. That is the first principle of existentialism

Jean-Paul Sartre, whom I studied at university and whose work has interested me ever since, introduces us to the idea of our absolute freedom. While he admits that we are limited by some physical and social circumstances, he places us utterly in charge of ourselves.

On Leonard Cohen
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Halcyon In Kal… 5 October 2019

So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear

 

You tried, in your way, to be free. Thank you. Now go join that great gig in the sky. So I wrote a year ago, when Lenny left us. However, the legend lives on - listen for example to How the Light Gets In.

'We Love Leonard Cohen' celebrated his 81st Birthday, and then, for his 82nd and final birthday, Leonard gave us a present. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to last album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. (See also Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker.)

"Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent" - Allan Showalter

On David Hume

David Hume

 

Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them - David Hume

 

When I was studying, inter alia, Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh many years ago, local boy made good David Hume was a name never far any philosophy professor or tutor's lips. Aeon now writes movingly of Hume's life:

"While Hume was lying aged 65 on his deathbed at the end of a happy, successful and (for the times) long life, he told his doctor: ‘I am dying as fast as my enemies, if I have any, could wish, and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could desire.’ Three days before he died, on 25 August 1776, probably of abdominal cancer, his doctor could still report that he was ‘quite free from anxiety, impatience, or low spirits, and passes his time very well with the assistance of amusing books’."

On Calvin and Hobbes

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"Possibly the best comic strip EVER in the history of the entire universe", claimed one commentator.

I think Dennis the Menace (in its heydey), Gaston Lagaffe and one or others may occupy the same pantheon as Calvin and Hobbes, but there is little doubt that, for all those of us who have been deeply touched by the warmth, humour, sheer humanity with which Bill Watterson blessed us over so many years, these creations occupy a very special place in our hearts.

On Holism

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A.S. Byatt tells us that "for the Victorians, everything was part of one thing - science, religion, philosophy, economics, politics, women, poetry. They didn't compartmentalise - they thought big." - quote in New Statesman, 27/04/09

This is the Halcyon philosophy too, as much of what's most interesting and important in life appears to come from the interconnectedness of ideas, from the alchemy of putting together - in the words of Theodore Zeldin - two ideas that have never met.