Daryush Shayegan referred to Octavio Paz in his Wounded Consciousness, translated into Turkish in the early 1990s, and referred to a peculiarity of today’s modernity: “Ideas are yesterday’s ideas, attitudes are today’s attitudes.” I have one in the 80s read more striking view of Takiyettin Mengüşoğlu. In his 1960 work Unchanging Values and Changes in Behavior, Mengüşoğlu argues against the “create new values and eliminate old values” rhetoric that it is not values that change, but behavioral styles, habits, and forms of relationships. Values don’t change. It continues with Octavio Paz… In one of his essays, Paz drew attention to the end of the “revolutionary myth” in the 1990s. According to him, world history from the French Revolution to the 1990s lived in a revolutionary myth. This distinction expresses the intuition of a poet, not a historian. For the past 30 years we have been living in what Paz called the “revolution myth.” This is a time when we talk about ever-changing values and new values. Not to be neglected is the new edition of Mengüşoğlu’s very important treatise…
This is the introduction to Svend Brinkmann’s “Where should we look at life?”. I did it for the book. The subtitle of the book is: “Ten Ancient Ideas for a New World”. This expression of the “ten old ideas” should be considered as the “ten ideas” that cannot be outdated. In a world where there is no “revolutionary myth”, how is it possible to demand change or self-renewal, that is, the desire to imagine a world without the old?
According to Brinkmann, the lives of people today seem to be dominated by two things; Nihilism with instrumentalization. And it brings up ten existential themes to consider in order to overcome nihilism and instrumentalization. According to him, instrumentalization expresses “that things cease to be ends in themselves by becoming means”. Nihilism claims that all values are baseless and empty. As is well known, nihilists take Nietzsche as their flag. However, as Brinkmann points out, Nietzsche is not a nihilist; It proposes “reexamining the essence of values in order to protect humanity from a nihilistic catastrophe”. For him, retreating into oneself, i.e. “subjective well-being”, is a variant of nihilism. Because what is meaningful does not arise in the subjective or in the interior, but in the collection of “the facts of our lives that are part of society”.
According to him, one of these phenomena is the act of making a promise. According to Nietzsche, making promises is a fundamental virtue that distinguishes humans from animals. The promise is the basis of morality. Marriages or fiduciary relationships, for example, would not be possible without promises. The promise is the possibility of faithfulness. The feeling of guilt, which is the downside of the broken promise, is the result of the promise. According to Brinkmann, man’s accountability for his deeds, a contribution by Judith Butler, is also made possible by the promise. Making promises is the material basis of modern spirituality. That’s why we lose our spirituality when we get divorced. Divorce means giving up promises, loss of loyalty and responsibility.
I would like to address one more problem… In his book “Ethical Demand”, Brinkmann draws attention to the thoughts of the Danish philosopher KE Løgstrup, who is little known in Turkey, within the framework of the concept of responsibility. What Løgstrup calls the ethical demand is the “demand to care for the life that others have given to you”. It goes like this: “Trust existentially precedes uncertainty.” People don’t expect to be deceived, trust is there at the beginning. But maintaining trust or duty and responsibility is possible with power. Let’s call it the power to care for the life that has been given to us.
That’s all for my place, it is necessary to continue the matter from the book. Finally, I would like to name modern stoicism for Svend Brinkmann’s “Where should we look at life?”…
WHERE SHOULD WE LOOK AT LIFE? –
TEN OLD IDEAS FOR A NEW WORLD
Translated from: coral
Communications Publications, 2022