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Introduction to Philosophy of Elysian Enterprise

Dear Reader,

          This essay presents the Philosophy1 of Elysian Enterprise.  If you have settled upon a religion or philosophy that provides meaning and purpose for your life, enjoy your good fortune.  We have little to offer you here.  Being social creatures, we naturally seek kindred spirits who share our worldview.

          We quote a lot of dead people for two reasons: We stole their ideas, so they express them better.  And, until recently, they have been the only people we’ve conversed with.

          We begin by setting the stage.  Imagine you’re twenty years old with your sweetheart beside you caressing your thigh, cruising a country road, windows open, on a clear summer day.  When life is this good, you won’t be contemplating whether life is worth living.  However, there are times—which become more frequent as decades pass— when “In the deepest heart of all of us there is a corner in which the ultimate mystery of things works sadly.2” So, ...

 

The Setting

Nature was crafty, and perhaps even dishonest, when she brought us into this world. She arranged for us to do so without knowledge and therefore without suspicion.  For we come darkly, even blindly into this world, and begin to live without noticing that we are alive and without knowing what it is to live.  As a child, man is hushed by any childish thing, content with any toy or trinket.  He seems to have entered the realm of happiness, but is really a captive to fortune.  By the time he opens the eyes of the soul, and realizes he has been tricked, he is hopelessly trapped, stuck in the mud from which he was formed.  And what can he do except move forward in that mud and try to escape as best he can?  I am persuaded that, were it not for Nature's universal ruse, no man or woman would want to enter a world so deceptive, and few would choose to go on living.  For who would knowingly set foot in a false kingdom and true prison, only to suffer so many different punishments?  In the body: hunger, thirst, cold, heat, weariness, nakedness, pain and disease; in the mind: deceit, persecution, envy, scorn, dishonor, turmoil, sadness, fear, anger, and despair.  All this in order to be condemned, in the end, to a miserable death, with the loss of everything: house, estate, belongings, honors, friends, relatives, brothers, parents, and life itself just when we have come to love it the most.  Nature knew perfectly well what she was doing, and man accepted in ignorance.  Whoever does not know you, O life, let him esteem you!  But whoever has awakened to the truth would choose rather to be transported from the cradle to the coffin, from the womb to the tomb.  A common presage of misery is the tears we cry at birth . . . And the clarion call with which this man, this woman, this king or queen, enters the world is non other than weeping, a sign that our only realm is sorrow.  What can we expect of a life that begins with the screams of the mother who gives it, and the weeping of the child who receives it?  Duped by Nature.  Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601 – 1658)

In the deepest heart of all of us there is a corner in which the ultimate mystery of things work sadly.  Too much questioning and too little active responsibility lead, as often as too much sensualism does, to the edge of the abyss, at the bottom of which lies despair. . . Sacred books and traditions tell us of one God who created heaven and earth, and saw that they were good.  Yet, on more intimate acquaintance, the visible surfaces of heaven and earth refuse to be brought into any intelligent unity at all.  Every phenomenon that we would praise exists cheek by jowl with some contrary phenomenon that cancels all its religious effect upon the mind.  Beauty and hideousness, love and cruelty, life and death keep house together in indissoluble partnership; and there gradually steals over us, instead of the warm notion of a man-loving Deity, that of an awful power that neither hates nor loves, but rolls all things together meaninglessly to a common doom.  This sinister nightmare view of life, and its peculiar poisonousness, lies expressly in our holding two things together which cannot possibly agree,— in our clinging, on the one hand, to the demand that there shall be a living spirit of the whole; and on the other hand, to the belief that the course of nature must be the spirit’s manifestation and expression. . . . Either there is no Spirit in nature, or else it is inadequately revealed there; and (as all the higher religions have assumed) what we call visible nature, or this world, must be but a veil and a surface-show whose full meaning resides in a supplementary unseen or other world.            William James (1842-1910)[1]3:

My position was terrible. I knew I could find nothing along the path of reasonable knowledge except a denial of life.  By faith it appears that in order to understand the meaning of life I must renounce my reason, the very thing for which alone a meaning is required. Leo Tolstoy, from his essay Confession4

[2]But for all this terror [20th century with its 100-million-killed], there is one thing that is worse: the thought that all the suffering and all the pleasure of life have no meaning.  And that is the sad corollary of our vanishing religious life. . . It [Science] has now brought us to the very edge of a world stripped of all innate moral values, without giving us anything to take its place.  While humanism and existential philosophies may be formulated in the universities, the ignorant thug in the street has already reached the conclusion that awaits the ponderous thinker: You have nothing else but what you get.  When you're dead, you're dead.   Evan Harris Walker, from The Physics of Consciousness.

The Setting seems a bit grim. 



1Philosophy: A particular system of ideas or beliefs relating to the general scheme of existence and the universe; a philosophical system or theory. 

Originally: the branch of knowledge that deals with ultimate reality, or with existence and the nature and causes of things; = METAPHYSICS n. 1a. Later: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, and the basis and limits of human understanding; this considered as an academic discipline.  Oxford English Dictionary.

2 William James.  Is Life Worth Living?

3 [From the essay: Is Life Worth Living? See The Will to Believe. William James, p.32-44]

4From Tolstoy’s essay Confession


 [1][From the essay: Is Life Worth Living? See The Will to Believe. William James, p.32-44]

 [2]The Physics of Consciousness ISBN: 0738202347

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