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Tonight my Socrates group discussed the movie Irrational Man – written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey. Several of us had watched it together last week, with the intent of discussing it tonight. The conversation was about the ethical issues, and the conversation was lively, but I had a problem with the whole irrational concept of a philosophy professor’s life suddenly taking on meaning because he plans and perpetrates a murder. He rationalizes that the murder of a civil judge is legitimate because the judge has made some decisions a woman didn’t like. He then plans and executes the murder because it gives his supposedly empty life meaning. The premise is silly because the so-called crimes would have had normal judicial proceedings, and if the judge were found to be at fault his decisions would have been reversed and he would have been removed from office. To gain a personal life meaning from the murder of a minor public official for doing a mediocre job because he was biased would probably condemn every one of them. Many people might cheer, but it would make modern society impossible because everyone makes a poor job of their tasks sometimes at some level.

My worry was about Woody Allen, because to write and direct such a destructive, and self-destructive, movie must imply these themes are coming from his inner soul. In this blog I have written several times about not following people who have self-destructive behaviors as a major theme in their life, as it can not help but send their follower down that channel into those same thoughts of despair. It makes more sense to discover the ways to make one’s life happier and more productive, rather than wallow in those thoughts that come of looking into the ugly pits of human problems. Why not find good problems to put one’s attention and efforts into and live a more interesting and more fulfilling life?

The Irrational Man shows yet another series of thoughts not to bother pursuing.