KAFKA AND NECESSITY

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In Kafka’s Trial, K. confronts a priest who tells him:

“‘It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.’

‘A melancholy conclusion,’ said K. ‘It turns lying into a universal principle.’”

But in between the priest’s observation and K.’s conclusion there is another result of this acceptance – that of turning necessity into a lie. The effect of this, of course, is that real necessities can no longer be trusted. They all become suspicious. Real purpose likewise suffers from this. Action itself becomes suspect to all sorts of vanities based on dishonesty and illusion. When necessity is rendered absurd by no longer representing that which really is, nihilism sets in. From this, we can define nihilism as that which arises when necessity loses its character.

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7 thoughts on “KAFKA AND NECESSITY

  1. . . . or lying into a necessity. Without lies the cogs and drums of the life as we see it in 21st Century would grind to a shuddering and devestating stop. The resulting Tsunami of Truth would, I’m afraid, be too much for the average citizen to bear.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rivenrod. The triad that ties necessity with truth and lies is a paradoxical one, as Kafka has shown. It warrants a deeper investigation in order to properly unravel that paradox. As for your comment, I agree with you, but it is a lack of purposefulness that I am worried about, not the lack of truth. I think purpose is driven by necessity, and it is that necessity that is being sullied by the lies… but, yes again … the problem is essentially paradoxical and needs a deeper investigation to unravel it.

  3. Hi Paul
    What one considers necessity is very much a function of the set of assumptions one accepts, and the sets of values one chooses.

    I have accept that I am ignorant of Truth, and that the best I can hope for is useful approximations to reality that are usually reliable in particular contexts.

    I have also accept that it is likely that these approximations will be superseded on a semi regular basis by better approximations that work more reliably across a greater range of contexts, and that such a process will continue for the rest of eternity (should I be so fortunate as to live that long). That seems to be the inevitable conclusion of any serious investigation of the idea of infinity, in its many different aspects, including algorithm space, levels of abstraction, strategy spaces and possibility spaces. Gives a new level of appreciation for the old Buddhist saying “that for the master, on a journey worth taking, for every step on the path, the path grows two steps longer” – one of the best descriptions of infinity I have come across.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Ted, and for taking the time to read the article.
    Yes, I agree, necessity is built from assumptions that are made and accepted. But if we concentrate on the relativity of that assumption – that necessity is mere assumption – then we fall into the trap of ignoring what is truly necessary, because something just need to be done in order to avoid tragedy.
    Much like the “Boy who cried wolf”, if we become accustomed to hearing that we need to act in a way that is not truly in our own interests but in the interests of others, and, subsequently find that we are not really going anywhere (the absurdity of nihilism), then we run the risk of not believing those who warn us of the existence of real, because vital and existential, necessities. Accepting systemic lies concerning false necessities has allowed for a anti-human process of history that has been able to separate and segregate humanity in a way that makes the idea of “humanity” seem like a Utopia. The interests of those who created those lies have created a dangerously absurd form of civilisation that threatens its own extinction. That this has been allowed to be the case, implies that we need to revaluate what our assumptions of our real necessities are.

    • Hi Paul,

      I don’t see it quite that way {surprise 😉 }.

      Certainly there are no shortage of people willing to exploit others by whatever mechanism. The impacts of their schemes and choices does exist, and in the larger scheme of things actually seems to be relatively minor most of the time.

      What seems to be most important in how things have evolved is the sorts of assumptions people accept as being reasonable and supported by the evidence sets available (which is always modulated through the time and experience available to consider such things – most people are busy doing things related to group cohesion and immediate survival to have the time to dig too deeply into assumptions).

      Agree with you that there are many systemic untruths.
      In a sense I think it likely that most of the constructs that I find useful are probably untrue in many meaningful senses, but in the circumstances I have encountered thus far in my existence, they appear to be sufficiently useful approximations to something that they have not yet been falsified by any evidence sets and interpretive schema that I am aware of.

      What we each consider in our own self interest very much depends on how long we expect to be around, and what sorts of probabilities and discount rate we apply to future expected benefits.

      Since 1974 (as I complete my undergrad biochemistry) I have been clear that indefinite life extension was possible, and would be achieved.
      I was initially somewhat over optimistic in my estimates of when that would happen.
      Since then I have put much more thought into the stages required.
      Significant money is now going into the final stage of the 4 stages I identified. I expect the problem to be solved within the decade, and would hive it a 50% probability of being within 2 years, though I doubt anyone who figures it out will make it public initially. If I had to choose amongst the most likely groups it would be Google’s Calico.

      Thus I have a reasonable expectation of living a very long time.

      Exponential technology would seem to be delivering exponential decrease in risk, so the future trend, provided we can transition out of market based thinking and into abundance based thinking (which is not certain, and does seem probable) should be towards continual decrease in discount rates and exponential increase in future rewards.

      Thus it seems logical to be worth accepting whatever hardships are required in the short to medium term to allow stable transition to long term abundance.
      This seems to be the most rational choice of benefit.

      Essentials – enough clean air & water, wholesome vegan food, energy, shelter, healthcare. freedom of travel, communication and association, tools to communicate with. Fairly minimal list, easily deliverable. Everything else is essentially marketing fluff.

  5. Pingback: Kafka and necessity | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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