Friday, April 27, 2018
Oz ABC on Westworld season deux.
[Robert Ford (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins)]'s contention is by far the more radical - for him, there is a fundamental connection between suffering and the emergence of consciousness itself. An excess of existential angst is what disrupted the premodern bicameral mind, jolting it out of its slumber and causing it to become sentient.
An echo of this idea is again to be found in the work of Heidegger, who used the term Geworfenheit, usually translated as "thrownness," to describe the peculiarly sobering experience of conscious life. For Heidegger, we humans are "thrown'"into a world for which we are radically unprepared. Philosopher Slavoj Zizek summarised Heidegger's view in the following way: "What if there is no previous 'home' out of which we were thrown into this world ... and what if this dislocation is our constitutive, primordial condition, the very horizon of our being?"
The notion of thrownness is useful for illustrating the difference between the concepts of "human nature" and the "human condition," which are sometimes treated as if they were synonymous. Human nature is the array of biological impulses we possess - our drives and instincts, and the sometimes complicated ways they express themselves. But the term "human condition" has more existential overtones, and refers to the fact that, unlike other animals, we are able to recognise ourselves as creatures at the mercy of contingency. As physicist Steven Weinberg put it, the tragedy of life "is not in the script; the tragedy is that there is no script."
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