vineri, 11 noiembrie 2011

'Why should I fast?'


2 Samuel 12:22-23  22 David said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?'  23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."

Does the sadness need a justification for being felt?

Answering to the question, sadness or grief about something or someone has a cause in that thing that is regretted, but the cause does not function as a justification. For a justification needs not only a cause, but also an explanation of it, so that the ties between the cause and its effects could be indicated.

The duration of sadness depends on someone’s disposition of being affected by that object or person.

Such disposition is better rendered by the Greek hexis: disposition, but literally having, possession. It is the way of taking into possession a state of facts, where the affection for a thing or a person is conjoined with other thoughts, gestures and affections.

In such a hexis, the thought is merely a part of it. It has not the power of dominating other parts of the hexis and, therefore, it cannot become a justification.

The thought cannot determine the duration of a disposition, but it can, as much as other components of it, to move to another object of a disposition, and to other sides of the same thing or person.


David’s success in passing from fasting and weeping to the joy is not provided by his former question, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?', nor by the next ones: ‘But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?’. He succeeded just for the fact that the thoughts raised by the dying child and associated with gestures of mourning could help him to come to another act of having or possession, namely, the disposition of viewing his child as an anticipation of his death. Or, of the mortal fate, and mortals eat and drink.

Thus, the consolation through thought seems not to  be by itself that wise solution to sadness or grief, but can be when it is used as a transition to something else. The association of  higher philosophical or religious thoughts with other components of a disposition can provide such a transition easier, since they are based on things that require anybody to move about them in order to be understood.