Comments on “Eternalism is harmful”

Comments

Absolutes

Sasha's picture

Thank you for this fascinating book and series.

A question:
Is “Eternalism is immoral” not itself an absolutist/eternalist claim?

Strikes a chord

Conor's picture

I just discovered your site/book and am fascinated by how its description of the emotional impact of eternalism describes my experience. I am in the process of reevaluating my philosophical commitments and appreciate the work you’ve put into sharing these valuable ideas. Hopefully, writing this book is as enjoyable for you as it is useful to me.

Eternalism and apeirophobia

LPalmer's picture

Hi again David. I’ve posted here a few times, a few years ago. Lockdown scenario and a brain buzzing with certain anxieties has brought me back.
Your book has gotten even bigger than when I last looked, so not sure exactly where to post this, but I’m really interested to know how you think this fits into your system, or can be dealt with under it:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/apeirophobia-the-fea…

The article above gave the phenomenon some wider exposure, but it’s actually this site that better moves it beyond the confines of religious-afterlife talk, even if it’s not especially well-written (and you only really need to read the front page, I find the rest of the site confusing, truth be told):

https://apeirophobia.org/

The website proprietor has his own definition of eternalism, which appears to be “awareness of infinite existence”. He identifies the anxiety as an issue of “personal significance with respect to forever” (with ‘forever’ taken to mean ‘without beginning or end’.) I think this what I’ve been getting very badly, partly because it seems difficult to actually deny the existence of ‘forever’ in reality, and also because there is also a sense, for me, that meaning seems to dissolve away when there are there no boundaries at play – existence without beginning or end being perhaps the most extreme example of this.

I’ve been attempting to interrogate these anxieties. On the one hand, I’ve always understood and accepted that my mortal life provides the boundaries of meaning (a la Wittgenstein), but there’s always that part of my brain telling me that’s not enough – the wider context of a boundless forever always rears its head; paradoxically, it feels like a very real kind of abstraction. I think there’s possibly the pernicious influence of eternalism – as you define it – at work here. I noticed that the website above seems to define meaning as “personal significance”. This seems to be a classic eternalist (again: your definition) mistake. Possibly monism too – that only entireties, ones, wholes, whatever you want to call them – are meaningful, and ‘forever’ is the most extreme example of such an entity.

I’m not sure if that made sense - I’m in the process of re-familiarising myself with aspects of your book. Hopefully you have enough to know what I’m getting at.

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