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Fascinating book that might inspire reflections on our modern state of mind
am 13. Januar 2011
I found the book very inspiring. May it be for the interesting treatment of Homer, David Foster Wallace, Dante's Devine Comedy or Moby Dick. But for sure for its clear and precise analysis of the modern state of mind. Torn between nihilism or monotheism we Moderns are faced by a no win situation according to Dreyfus and Kelly. We either despair as there is no meaning in the world or have to deny important aspects of ourselves if we devote our lifes to an abstract deity that transcends our every day lifes. Dreyfus and Kelly do not stop with this diagnosis but offer a way out of this situation by lending heavily from the pre-socratic greeks as well as from the tradition of medieval craftsmenship as sources for meaning in our lifes. The core idea is that meaning is not given to us by a god or is created from within ourselfs (which would transform us into gods as Nietzsche claims), but is the result of the cultivation of personal skills that prepare us to see meaningful differences in the world around us that are already there. Dreyfus and Kelly propose an attitude towards the world that is based on the ability to attune to moods that surround us like love, hate, fear, agape, pride etc. in combination with the ability to enact in the world in a skillful way. Last but not least this set of abilities is complemented by a so called meta-poiesis, a meta-skill, that requires us to be able to differentiate a situation in which it is "good" to let oneself get whooshed away by the mood of the moment (a great baseball game for an American or a great soccer match for us Europeans) from a situation in which it is prohibited to let oneself go e.g. a speech by Hitler. Through this combination of the skill of attunement and the skills required for being a real "Craftsman" and a "Meta-Craftsman" Dreyfus and Kelly are hoping for a life that is both authentic and meaningful and thus potentially fulfilling and joyful.
Independent of if you agree to such a proposal, to me it seems at least a convincing challenge to our existing attitudes towards our every day life. I myself must confess that I found the presented vision of a third way not only intriguing but also inspiring and fascinating. Read the book and see for yourself.