Living with Indifference
Publication Year: 2007
Living with Indifference is about the dimension of life that is utterly neutral, without care, feeling, or personality. In this provocative work that is anything but indifferent, Charles E. Scott explores the ways people have spoken and thought about indifference. Exploring topics such as time, chance, beauty, imagination, violence, and virtue, Scott shows how affirming indifference can be beneficial, and how destructive consequences can occur when we deny it. Scott's preoccupation with indifference issues a demand for focused attention in connection with personal values, ethics, and beliefs. This elegantly argued book speaks to the positive value of diversity and a world that is open to human passion.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Studies in Continental Thought
Special thanks to Charlie and Sue Ruffing, Glenn Gustafson, Kathy and Dennis Haggarty, Stephen Miller, Stephen Swoyer, and Charles R. Scott for technological help at times that seemed like crises in their moments. During the several years of conception and writing I received valuable assistance from Juliana Eimer, Bryan Lueck, Omar Rivera, and Henry Wang. ...
1. Speaking of Indifference
Philosophy is a matter of texts, of texts that began the problems and ideas of a tradition, of texts that changed the course of traditions or deepened and widened them, of texts that turned away from traditions in the impact of new problems and ways of thinking. That, however, is only part of philosophy’s story, because it also arises out of and reflects the texture of people’s experiences, the vast and intricate intuitive network of ...
2. Helen, Truth, and the Wisdom of Nemesis
Surely we would be unwise to worship Helen, the compelling, early Greek phantom of calamitous beauty.1 According to early accounts, she is the daughter of Nemesis, who, when she conceived Zeus’s daughter, was a beautiful and unseducible goddess of stern fate. Nemesis, in early myths, figured the circumstances and inevitabilities of offense. She was not at all a ...
3. Pythagoras, Indifference, and the Beautiful Soul
To understand the sense of memory in Orphic and Pythagorean practice and thought we need to consider experiences of ignorance. I don’t have in mind only a lack of information. I’m thinking of a sense of ignorance in a context of knowing that being alive is mostly a matter of misery and unhappiness, frequent sickness, infection, and unrelieved pain; simple ...
4. The Indifference of Finitude: Arendt and Heidegger
The thought of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger will provide the foci for this chapter. I shall address some of their texts in the context of a problematic that, in part, I bring to them and that, in part, arises in their thought. Let me begin by saying a few words about this problematic. ...
5. Another Look at “Soul”: Mimetic Geist
Pascal had a monstrous intellectual conscience, according to Nietzsche; but he did not have what it takes to figure out and determine the history of Western religious sensibility (Beyond Good and Evil, section 45). Though admirable in its monstrosity, Pascal’s intellectual conscience was not made for “the great hunt,” for the pursuit of what has happened and is carried in the formation of Western religious awareness and passion. ...
6. Indifferent Freedom
Indifference” suggests detachment. Not necessarily total detachment, but detachment in relation to something. It might be the detachment maintained by keeping a certain distance, a certain space. Detachment can also happen as a space of perceiving or judging or the space of dispersion and disconnection, a spatial happening without attachment to what takes place ...
7. In the Name of Goodness
Well, the last chapter certainly ended on a note of abruptness and severity! I want to make accessible for thought the dimension of formless indifference that we cannot apprehend in a comprehensive way. We must think without grasping—that is the point, I believe, when we consider indifferent freedom. There is a dimension of occurrence that will not ...
8. Indifferent Love
I turn now to consider certain of Friedrich Schelling’s thoughts on love. He developed one of the most persistent notions of indifference in our philosophical tradition, and his thought picks up especially a Pythagorean strain that is embedded in the Platonic lineage. In that lineage Pythagorean images and hopes have exercised considerable power in the formation of ...
9. Trauma’s Presentation
I would like now to take a small step toward considering a dispositional change consequent to recognition of the dimension of indifference found in daily living. This dimension can find expression as distance in intense presentations of threat or pain—indifferent distance, a powerful absence of personal dimension in events that we experience as thoroughly personal. ...
10. The Appearance of Public Memory
At various places throughout this book I have indicated an indifferent aspect in the translation and enactment of lineages in contemporary practices and institutions. I turn to one factor in such translation and enactment: public memory. When we consider public memory by reference to its appearing and not primarily by reference to its contents, we are able to ...
11. Wal-Mart and the Heavens: The Factor of Indifference
Very early on a February morning I sat outside contemplating the stars, especially Draco and Serpens, Arcturus, Mira, and Spica. The sky was clear, the breeze balmy. Except for the soft rhythms of waves coming to shore, the earth seemed still. I saw two shooting stars. In this moment of reverie I was considerably surprised when, quite involuntarily, a vivid image of a Wal-Mart came to mind. ...