Man needs to give himself a perspective on nonknowledge in the form of death. Bataille
To 'realize' the concept of nothingness is not to see nothingness but to die. Levinas
There is an absolutely obvious, normal step, almost a command, a silent requirement to do what we should do in order to secure and improve our life. We want to succeed, to achieve something in this world. Our thinking, perceiving, behaving are shaped by a belief in (the improvement of our) life which guides us in our daily activities, in our moral and political attitudes. An alive thinking is consolidated on and on and this alive, healthy thinking constantly forms us as healthy, functional humans. And as humans we want that a healthy, alive world takes shape around our healthy habits.
William James witnessed how healthy thinking became a new religion or at least a new background for old religions in the middle of the 19th century when the advance of liberalism brought about “a victory of healthy-mindedness” over the morbidity of the old ‘hell-fire theology’. Healthy-mindedness believes in universal evolution, ‘general meliorism’, progress, and appreciates “the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, trust”. Healthy-mindedness fosters an optimistic “muscular attitude”, similar to the one implicit in ‘Don’t Worry Movement’ which has a motto that one is encouraged to repeat to oneself often: ‘youth, health, vigor!’. But healthy-mindedness brings also contempt: for doubt, fear, worry, and “all nervously precautionary states of mind”. For a healthy mind “the attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly”. It is impossible to maintain this healthy-mindedness without “zealously emphasizing the brighter and minimizing the darker aspects of the objective sphere of things at the same time . . . we divert our attention from disease and death as much as we can; and the slaughter-houses and indecencies without end on which our life is founded are huddled out of sight and never mentioned.”1