Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Two Existential Challenges

I reminded my students that whilst I am not a fortune-teller, I could with reasonable certainty predict two things about their lives: 1. That eventually we will each and all of us die, and 2. That they would make mistakes in their lives — just as everyone else does.

The human responses to the inevitability of death vary greatly, of course, and some people fear it greatly whilst others don’t. In either case, their attitude towards death is likely to have an impact on the way they live their lives (If I am going to die, then how best can I live my life? etc.). It is one of the philosophical questions from which we can not ultimately escape.

As to making mistakes, my students happily replied that when (and if 🙂 ) they made mistakes then they would of course try to learn from them. But clearly many people do not. Indeed, many of the psychological problems outlined by Freud and others are the consequences of people trying to pretend that they haven’t made any mistakes or explaining them away. Sociologically and politically too there are many problems when individuals and groups deny their own mistakes and try to blame them on others. Self-development requires honesty about one’s own actions and motivations.

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2014 by in Philosophy and tagged , .
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