2if the world really is meaningless, how should I live?” John Gardner:“Hopefully all readers will enjoy [Grendel] and recognize the central question, namely:if the world really is meaningless, how should I live?”
3Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Existentialism French philosopher “Father of Existentialism”Brought international attention to existentialism in the 20th CenturyScandalous public lecture, “Existentialism is a Humanism,” in Paris on October 28th, 1945ExistentialismPhilosophical movement that thrives after WWIIProfound loss and despair of war spurs a search for meaning
4Major Principles of existentialism The individual and the individual’s experience as the basis for understanding the nature of human existenceEach individual creates his or her own meaningDeterministic and seemingly meaningless universeSociety is unnatural, rules and traditions are arbitrary, and worldly desire is futileEmphasis on personal responsibility and free willUsing personal choice based on experience, outlook, and beliefsHuman life is in no way complete and fully satisfying, but it nonetheless has meaningExistentialism is the search and journey for true self and true personal meaning in life.Importance of the AbsurdNo meaning in the world, except the meaning we give to it; world as amoral and unfairEXISTENCE (Individual) precedes ESSENCE (Unnatural identity determined by society)
5if the world really is meaningless, how should I live?” John Gardner:“Hopefully all readers will enjoy [Grendel] and recognize the central question, namely:if the world really is meaningless, how should I live?”Progression of philosophies within chapters offer many different answers to this central question
6Orphism"Orphism is an esoteric, private religion of ancient Greece, named after the legendary musician Orpheus. According to Orphism, the soul, a divine spark of Dionysus, is bound to the body (soma) as to a tomb (sema).Mankind is in a state of forgetfulness of its true, spiritual nature. The soul is immortal, but descends into the realm of generation, being bound to the "hard and deeply-grievous circle" of incarnations, until it is released through a series of purifications and rites, regaining its true nature as a divine being."(http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet)Key tenets: reincarnation, body as the prison for the soul, and importance of self-denial
7Solipsism Theory that only the self exists or can be proved to exist Craig J. Stromme, in his essay "The Twelve Chapters of Grendel" writes "[Grendel] leaves the cave of ignorance and enters the world of sunlight for the first time (an obvious reference to Plato's parable of the cave)." After describing how Grendel reacts and what he says when he leaves the cave and when he returns, Stromme concludes, "Grendel clearly begins his life in the world as a solipsist."
8Sophism Sophists- educators in Ancient Greece Primary objective was persuasive public speakingPlato portrays them as uninterested in real truth and motivated by moneyModern definition- one who uses clever but misleading reasoningEmphasis on rhetoric over virtue
9nihilismThe belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can really be known or communicated.associated with extreme pessimismassociated with skepticismcondemns existence.A true nihilist would:Believe in nothingHave no loyaltiesClaim no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.
10Friedrich Nietzsche German philosopher, 19th Century “God is dead” The absolutist morality that had reigned for centuries, is deadNihilism will destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictionsIt will jumpstart the greatest crisis in human history
11Ethical egoismMoral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interestContrasts with ethical altruism, but does not disregard possibility of serving othersSelf interest may be incidentally beneficial to, detrimental to, or neutral in its effect on others
12Skepticism Chaos vs. Order Skeptic: one who doubts everything with moral fervorStromme:Before his realization, Grendel had possessed no real sense of himself: he accepted the images others had of him (his mother's image of him as "son," the villagers' image of him as "monster," and Shaper's image of him as "devil") for his self-image. Thus, Grendel is reborn but reborn into scepticism. He accepts that beings other than himself exist, but he has postulated them all as enemies. Grendel is a sceptic, one who doubts everything with moral fervor, and has decided that his new role is to be the destroyer of all the hypocritical orders men have created. Grendel feels that all orders blind men to the truth: "So much for heroism. So much for the harvest-virgin. So much, also, for the alternative visions of blind old poets and dragons" (78).
13“The first seven chapters have transformed Grendel from a frightened solipsistic child into an angry sceptical monster. The village has evolved from a small collection of huts into a city-state. Everything necessary for Beowulf s arrival has been given to us, but Beowulf does not arrive for four more chapters. The plot has been developed; the next four chapters develop philosophical ideas Gardner is interested in. Gardner says that "at about Chapter 8 there is a section in which you arc no longer advancing in terms ofthe momentum toward the end it's just the wheels spinning. That is not novelistic form; it's lyrical form.” Gardner stretches Grendel to elucidate certain ideas about philosophy and the growth of society, not to add convolutions to the traditional plot. These chapters should reveal just how different Grendel is from a more traditional novel, for its underlying purpose is to explore philosophies, not character.” –Craig Stromme
14MachiavellianismNiccolo Machiavelli ( )- Italian political philosopherA healthy state is unified, orderly and balancedA leader must use any means necessary—including force, deception, and cruelty—to preserve this order and balanceThe Prince- his most famous book, which describes the methods by which a strong ruler might gain and keep powerThe view that politics is amoral and that any means, however unscrupulous, can justifiably be used in achieving political power
15Process PhilosophyAlfred North Whitehead ( )- English mathematician and philosopherMetaphysics- branch of philosophy concerned with basic causes and the nature of thingsUltimate questions: Does every event have a cause? What is really real?Emphasizes the elements of becoming, change, and novelty in experienced reality and opposes the traditional Western philosophical stress on being, permanence, and uniformityNatural existence consists in and is best understood in terms of processes rather than things -- of modes of change rather than fixed stabilities.
16Empiricism Theory that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience Emphasis on observation and experimentationpinoza and Leibniz&IsSearch=Y&parentSeriesID=