I’m by no means a philosophy expert! That being said, my hope is to become more conversant in the “love of wisdom” in order to live a better life. As mentioned in a previous post, I started reading theologian-philosopher Tillich because MLK read Tillich. MLK even critiqued him as a major part of his doctoral work.
I grabbed The Courage to Be, my second Tillich book, from the library just because it was what they happened to have on the shelf while I was browsing. That gives you an indication of where I’m at in terms of knowing what to read. Suggestions are welcome. I have already read Russell’s History of Western Philosophy and reviewed it, as well as some Sartre and Camus. I’m trying to learn more about ontology, now.
Tillich is big on looking at ontology to solve/explain/manage life’s questions, and this book is a collection of lectures just as Love, Power, and Justice was. That makes things nice for the reader because the chapters are fairly concise. In these lectures Tillich examines the different kind of contemporary (at the time of writing) fears and anxieties related to being as well as possible ways to have courage to transcend those anxieties. For Tillich, courage is the self-affirmation of being in spite of non-being.
His main categories of anxieties included death, meaninglessness, and guilt. Ever the professor, he provides a quick historical tour of the myriad ways in which the great thinkers of the past have tried to define courage and have lived it.
Personally, I tend to zero in on the meaninglessness and death categories more than guilt and I found his articulation of the issues to be comforting. If nothing else, they mean I’m not alone. Tillich has a lot of respect for those brave enough to acknowledge meaninglessness and death and to despair at them. He sees that as a form of courage. It also seems to implicitly be the first step towards hope: “The negative lives from the positive it negates.” Some interesting quotes:
“The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself as accepted in spite of being unacceptable.” (Affirmation from being-itself [God])
“Faith is the state of being grasped by being-itself…he is able to affirm himself because he know that he’s affirmed by the power of being-itself.”
“The affirmation of one’s essential being in spite of desires and anxieties creates joy.” (Summarizing some of the Greeks)