Woody Allen’s philosophy

resonates with me. Here is an excerpt from an article (Konigsberg = Allen):

Konigsberg states that his reading of philosophy and literature is mainly an attempt to help him answer the ultimate question about life: its purpose and values in its relation to death. “I think the most important issues to me are what one’s values in life should be—the existence of God, death—that’s real interesting to me. Whether it’s capitalist society or socialism—that’s superficial.”The task Konigsberg takes on is no small one for a comedian, let alone a philosopher! Konigsberg puts the problem into the voice of his character Allen when he says, “My view of reality is that it has always been a grim place to be . . . but it’s the only place you can get Chinese food.” Variations on this theme appear throughout his writings: “Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.” Or, “Eternal nothingness is O.K. if you’re dressed for it.”

In somewhat less of a punch-line voice he rues, “I think the salient feature about human existence is man’s inhumanity to man.” He reiterates the point:

What I’m really saying—and it’s not hidden or esoteric, it’s just clear as a bell—is that we have to accept that the universe is godless and life is meaningless, often a terrible and brutal experience with no hope, and that love relationships are very, very hard, and that we still need to find a way to not only cope but lead a decent and moral life.

In this sense, he’s Kierkegaardian without the leap of faith, or Sartrean without the existential ethics of action. But Konigsberg does ask, “How do we carry on, or even, why should we choose to carry on?” His answer—specifically to a Jesuit priest-philosopher at St. Johns University who wrote an essay on Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), describing the movie as the most atheistic film ever made—is notable:

To me it’s a damn shame that the universe doesn’t have any God or meaning, and yet only when you can accept that can you then go on to lead what these people call a Christian life—that is, a decent, moral life. You can only lead it if you acknowledge what you’re up against to begin with and shuck off all the fairy tales that lead you to make choices in life that you’re making not really for moral reasons but for taking down a big score in the afterlife.

Read the whole thing here.

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
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1 Response to Woody Allen’s philosophy

  1. Huenemann says:

    Sorry — I can no longer find the original article I was quoting!


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