Can you Canoe Camus?

I received the following voice mail from a person with whom I’ve been having a fairly long philosophical conversation.  The comment comes after a long discussion about why we see the law, and law school, and more as, well, as . . . silly is the best word I can think of, but silly isn’t it.  Unimportant, or unimportantly important?  Anyway he said (as transcribed by Google voice with a little clean up by me):

“What we both got not from Camus, but because of Camus was the sense that we live in a society in which motivation is increasingly economic rationality and we feel we feel that that’s wrong”

The following is my response:

The short answer is “yes”, the longer answer is that we’ve examined and rejected all other philosophies, but deep down we feel the need for a philosophically consistent life-view.  Camus examined and rejected the philosophical strains that preceded him from “god-faith” to “science-faith” to “science-rationalism” to econominism and on and on.  After finding all lacking, he turned to existentialism.

We’ve followed Camus’ path in rejecting the foregoing but have also rejecting the existentialism.  We are seekers.  We are looking for an overriding philosophy and have not yet found or developed one.  We’re really good at finding what is lacking in the other philosophies, but haven’t found one that’s not lacking.

I think that the point of your message gets to why we are so odd at the law school and in this society.  Most of the society has adopted the economistic philosophy.  Even those who “reject” it are working within it’s framework.  (Most other people in the world are adherents of either religious or science faith).  As people who have rejected the premises of the dominant visions of the world and truth and reality we are cut off from most of the others.  As people who have rejected the premises of the others and have not (yet) found a philosophy, we are doubly adrift.  (I am leaving out a mass of people who never even think along these lines.  People who “just live”.)

Last time we spoke we discussed process.  I think that’s our life-ring.  Without a guiding philosophy that we don’t immediately see as bullsh*t, we hope that process can guide us.  It’s interesting that when the law wants to hide the ball about the philosophy (or crude politics) underlying its actions it almost always resorts to “process”.  As bad a rap as I’m giving process, my mind always turns to it.  “If I can just work through the problems, I can find the philosophy.”

My fear (and increasingly my belief) is that there is not acceptable overriding philosophy.  But, existentialism isn’t the answer, maybe (as many have said before) it’s “studentism”.  Maybe all that we can aspire to is to be open to experience and thinking and learning.  Maybe it’s that simple.  Or, maybe not.


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