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All Things Shining

All Things Shining highlights the choices of characters that define their being and lives. The conflict portrayed in the book is both cultural and religious and concentrates on the determining the most important of these aspects.  The book echoes a thread of Nietzsche’s protection of the poets against Plato’s allege that the ethical influence accorded by Homer’s gods was treacherously confusing. The author’s proposal to consider moral dependence on the poet’s gods is more a matter of philosophical debates. This paper seeks to explain how the authors explore the theme of nihilism in All Things Shining. Further, the paper will highlight the reasons of  the authors to consider the idea of nihilism a problem to the present society and describe the non-nihilistic worldview of Homer.

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In All Things Shining, theorists Dreyfus and Kelly offer an engaging speculation on the point of life looking back from a distance of their professional experience. As of Kelly, his philosophical nature arose from the need to answer the problems encountered while searching for the nature of consciousness. The author faced such issues being a computer scientist with deep steep in scientific intelligence and perspective. Dreyfus and Kelly narrate how the western understanding of human existence had changed over the human history. Kelly and Dreyfus note that, customarily, we view ourselves unlike the heroes of the past. In relation to the case studies presented, the authors indicate that we view ourselves as immobilized by indecision when faced moral or physical challenges.

The core objective of All Things Shining was to focus on and rejuvenate the experience of the sacred times that fits the secular age. Besides,  it concentrated on the reasons of how individual’s free choice determines what is fundamentally mistaken. For instnce, in chapter two, the authors suggest that the chronic indecisiveness and hesitation reflects people’s culture of nihilism. These states are described as the view that lacks ground for selecting one course of action to another (Dreyfus, and Kelly 15). It is surprising to know the fact that a lot of people feel so miserable since they find no meaning in themselves, as well as somewhere else. One challenge that faces the contemporary world according to Dreyfus and Kelly is getting an ideal and convincing response to nihilism. This problem is identified in the writings of David Foster Wallace as’ stomach-level sadness’.

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Nihilism is the feeling that arises from being cold-blooded to the signals of the outside world. However, nihilism has not always been preference of the western culture. To explore further the theme, the authors give a more sympathetic account of Aquinas and Dante. The ancient figures shared Aristotle’s conception of human beings rather than ideal forms as exceptionally real. The author goes on telling about the beginning of this concept in the post medieval time when belief in the Judeo-Christian God became insufficient to show people sense of life.  According to the book, the world setting of ancient times used to consist of shining and sacred things. However, in the present times, the shining things remain invisible. The book intends to connect the shining objects and the sacred ones in the world. More so, the authors try to expose the reasons for human beings questioning their existence.

The philosophers have started from the Greek polytheists who have minimal reflection of the world. The Greek polytheists were never convinced that they would be in control of the world. It exposes and leaves them to experience the shining of things which is the goal of art, appreciating the nature’s bountifulness and the beautiful gift of humanity.  Dreyfus and Kellly suppose that in contemporary America the communal sense and meaning can be experienced at the mass sports events, while the ancient Greece was dived into the feeling of collectivity. The philosophers urge readers to open up and listen to the gods’ call in a polytheistic world whose metaphysical nature they invoke. It can be seen in the example of Wesley Autrey who rescues a stranger in a subway bravely. He refuses to talk about this heroic deed but it is considered a simple response to god’s call. The authors portray him as trained public service personnel in the Navy who lead an unusually responsible quiet life taking care of his extended family. His response to this extraordinary situation leads to the development of the character that opens up possibilities for him to gain the right life meaning rather than waiting or hoping to get the call from the right god. Despite the fact that not every meaning is morally right, Dreyfus and Kelly leave readers with provocative questions that make a person meditate in order to answer and be enlightened. In this sphere, this book resembles the best philosophical treatises of the past.

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The different situation can be observed in the ancient Greek society. The life there is in full swing and does not leave the opportunity for nihilistic view. The world for these people seems to be unexplored and develop independently from them. The gods manage everything and the life meaning is simple and joyful.  For instance, Homer highlights the blithe description of Helen (his preferred character) in the Odyssey being in an affair with Paris, which started the odd choice of Trojan War for the dinner party conversation in the Menelaus household (Dreyfus, and Kelly 58). Helen is holding herself open to Aphrodite attuned to the goddess of Eros, but in Iliad she rebels against her both cursing Aphrodite’s  faithlessness and blaming her heartless and manipulative ways working her will.

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