Today

- Pick up with some more thinking about uncertainty - Pick up where we left off yesterday - 20th Century thought - Applying the knowledge - Some reflection

Uncertainty
I talked a lot about the problem of uncertainty yesterday. This was particularly relevant to the ideas of Kant. - remember, how can you and I ever know that we are both seeing the same colour? This was a problem of perception, which lead to an uncertainty in a universal reality. The problem of uncertainty was made even stickier by a growing body of philosophy about language.

The problem of language
We think of language as a stable system of communication without it, we¶d be a little bit screwed. A Swiss man named Ferdinand de Saussure, challenged this though. He discussed the problem of the µsign¶ and the µsignified¶. This developed into skepticism over the stability of language.

So...
We end up in a situation where the modern position is extremely uncertain: - left without a value system because of science - left without a fundamental human essence because of the flux of personality - left without the certainty that what I see is a stable reality - left without a faith in the ability of language to communicate - left without the comfort of other people because capitalism pushes us towards individuality and isolation Throw in two world wars and Einstein¶s attitude that event time is relevant and not necessarily stable, and things are looking particularly bleak, especially for the philosophical.

Going back: Modernisms
With science challenging the way we see the world, throwing out old traditions for new one, the arts began to do the same. The value systems of old no longer applied, but no value system took its place, and so artists became completely free to create their own beliefs around what art should represent. After the likes of Nietzsche, there is both no God and no essences, no fundamental truths; everything is in flux. Art became a way of representing the human condition - often alone, without a God to give life meaning.

The Absurd: Albert Camus
Much of our life is built on the hope of tomorrow, but tomorrow brings us closer to death, which is the ultimate enemy. The world is strange, foreign, inhuman place, which is effectively unknowable as rational thinking and science can¶t explain the world rather they just end up creating stories, which are essentially metaphors, and are just images of the truth. It is not the world that is absurd, nor human thought: the absurd arises when the human need to understand meets the unreasonableness of the world, when "my appetite for the absolute and for unity" meets "the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle."

Absurdism
Humans search for meaning in their lives. This leads to either: the belief that life is meaningless, or a belief in a higher power, e.g. God, but also secular beliefs like the American Dream. Hope must be rejected. Only by rejecting hope for tomorrow can the current day be lived to its fullest.

Existentialism
Existence comes before essence. There is no fundamental essence to human existence - nothing fundamental determines who we are. It is the choices that we make, the accumulation of our decisions that ultimately determines our µessence¶. Our acts determine who we are and then we must become responsible and accountable for that person we have become. Again, the individual is fundamentally alone. They are freed from the cage of a predetermined essence, but must face the very difficult task of taking ownership of the creation of their own essence.

Applying the knowledge
Why? You¶ve been given a lot of information and it¶s important that we reinforce that knowledge so it isn¶t lost. Applying that knowledge to a new situation is a great form of reinforcement.

The exercise...
I¶m going to put a painting on each table that µspeaks¶ to the thinking that I¶ve talked about. You¶ll have some post-its, and your task is to spend some time with each painting, discuss it with your group and use the postits to make connections between what you see in the imagery and what you re-call from the slideshow. It¶s not about being correct here, it¶s about digging back through the new knowledge and applying it. e.g....

The exercise...
I¶m going to put a painting on each table that µspeaks¶ to the thinking that I¶ve talked about. You¶ll have some post-its, and your task is to spend some time with each painting, discuss it with your group and use the post-its to make connections between what you see in the imagery and what you re-call from the slideshow. It¶s not about being correct here, it¶s about digging back through the new knowledge and applying it.

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