How An Omniscient Being Would Fulfill The Desire To Be Known Completely

Jean-Paul Sartre reasoned that the loss of belief in God causes an existential feeling of abandonment.  He was referring to our losing the potential for divine guidance but Jon Adams’s feeling of abandonment is a new one to me.  He wishes he could still believe there was someone up there who knew him completely:

Atheist author Christopher Hitchens often remarks that he’s relieved there is no god. He abhors the notion of a god who monitors our thoughts as tyrannical. “Who wishes,” he asks in the introduction to The Portable Atheist, “that there was a permanent, unalterable celestial despotism that subjected us to continual surveillance and could convict us of thought-crime[?]”

Like Hitchens, I find that god, the Abrahamic god, objectionable. I do, however, wish that there were some being who knew my every waking thought—the good, the bad, and the ugly. And when I did believe in such a being, I felt less lonely. (To be sure, believing that my thoughts were being monitored was cause for anxiety. But that anxiety was outweighed by the comfort of having someone totally understand you, and more than you understand yourself.)

So to compensate for no longer believing in any omniscient being, I try to be radically open, honest, and expressive. It borders on voyeurism, really. And often my frankness comes at the expense of social tact. On first dates, for example, I volunteer all the most embarrassing information about me. If they’re still interested in me after these disclosures (and they rarely are ha ha), then they’re worth dating.

My blogging, too, has largely been driven by this loneliness. It allows me to free some thoughts from my head—well, to the extent that I can articulate them into words.

I sure identify with that ridiculously anti-strategic approach to dating which confesses everything bad upfront so nothing about me that would lead to my rejection will be revealed only after my hopes were up.  And, as I just mentioned a few days ago, I also think my blogging is motivated in part by an insatiable desire to reveal myself.  Though a kind of compulsive truthfulness, rather than loneliness motivates me.  I do not need to feel unknown to want to be known.  I cannot get enough of it even when I have it.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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