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Excess, Sex & Elevation(Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-01)Excess, Sex & Elevation is an attempt to understand the desire for truth in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Nothing is said about what truth is, but rather why it is wanted and how it is sought. Despite their different religious beliefs (Levinas a Jew, Nietzsche an atheist, Dostoevsky a Christian), the three thinkers hold remarkably similar conceptions of truth. Truth is an individual pursuit -- upwards. The self experiences a crisis of conscience upon discovering its originary excess, which is sex. The self suffers spiritually for what it is physically through the art of ascesis, turning the lust for sex into the desire for truth. And therein begins the self's elevation to the heights of truth.
The Quest for Pleasure and the Death of Life(Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2011)In this paper, I present a parallel between Schopenhauer, who argues that a purely rational being would see life as meaningless suffering and therefore refuse to inflict existence on a new generation of humans, and economist Lester Thurow, who argues that it is irrational to care about what happens to the world after one's own death, even if this means the extinction of the human species. I show first how these attitudes stem from an orientation that judges life in terms of pleasure and pain. Then, with reference to an article by Amien Kacou, I seek to refute this orientation, showing how a conscious being that actually saw pleasure as its highest good would likely become miserable - or, conversely, that the only way for such a being to actually experience pleasure would be for it to see justice as more important than its own individual satisfaction. I conclude with some reflections on what this means in terms of Nietzsche's statement "God is dead," and what ramifications it has on the current ecological crisis.