Pedr Zapffe


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Pedr Zapffe

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Redigerat: dec 22, 2012, 11:16 am

Has anyone read The Last Messiah by Peter Zapffe? You can find a copy at The Last Messiah

If you don't know anything about him, he was a Norwegian thinker widely considered an existentialist, although not a typical one. His dissertation, On The Tragic has never been translated into English. The gist of his thinking is that human consciousness is an evolutionary dead end and that human consciousness is a curse. It is a curse because one of the side effects is that we seek for a meaning to life that doesn't exist and ask questions that can't be answered. The analogy is to the pre-historic Irish Elk that evolved antlers so large they led to the Elk's extinction because they made it more difficult to evade predators.

Because life involves so much suffering, Zapffe thinks we should gradually let humanity go extinct. He is what is referred to as an anti-natalist. Better not to bring new suffering into the world.

Zapffe says we ward off the anxiety of uncertainty and fear of death by adopting four psychological strategies:

1) Anchoring - believing in god and thinking he has a wonderful plan for us, or heaven, etc. Seeking principles to live by or seeking the familiar.
2) Isolation - Blocking out the harsh realities of the world, blocking out death, etc.
3) Distraction - Engaging in mindless activities to distract us from the truth of life like church attendance, drugs, TV, consumerism, etc.
4) Sublimation - Becoming engaged in a life project to make our lives meaningful, creating art, etc.

However, and this is the point of the post, I was wondering what others thought. I largely agree with his overall philosophy, yet I still think the moments of joy experienced in life make living worthwhile overall in spite of the suffering. And I think bringing new life into the world is not unethical. I was wondering what others thought. I am not dogmatic about my position.