Philosophical attitudes toward seriousness

Praise for "high seriousness" in scholarship and poetry

Some use "seriousness" as a term of praise for scholarship or in literary review. 19th century poet, cultural critic, and literary critic, Matthew Arnold said that the most important criteria used to judge the value of a poem were "high truth" and "high seriousness".

Philosophical disdain for seriousness

Many have expressed an attitude of disdain toward taking things too seriously, as opposed to viewing things with an attitude of humor. Poet, playwright, and philosopher Joseph Addison said that being serious is dull, "we are growing serious, and let me tell you, that's the next step to being dull." Political satirist P.J. O'Rourke said that "Seriousness is stupidity sent to college." Epigramist, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde said that "life is too important to be taken seriously." In a play on words, novelist Samuel Butlerindicated that the central serious conviction in life is that nothing should be taken with too much seriousness, "the one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously."

In some ascetic or puritan religious sects, an attitude of seriousness is always to be taken, and solemnity, sobriety, and puritanism with its hostility to social pleasures and indulgences are the only acceptable attitudes. Perry Miller, "the master of American intellectual history", wrote of excessive seriousness of the Puritans, "simple humanity cries at last for some relief from the interminable high seriousness of the Puritan code."

Taking oneself seriously

Many philosophical attitudes express derision for those who take themselves too seriously.

The "spirit of seriousness" in existential philosophy

Existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre called the "spirit of seriousness the belief that there is an objective and independent goodness in things for people to discover, and that this belief leads to bad faith. He argued that people forget that values are not absolute, but are contingent and subjectively determined. In Sartre's words, "the spirit of seriousness has two characteristics: it considers values as transcendent " givens, independent of human subjectivity, and it transfers the quality of desirable from the ontologicalstructure of things to their simple material constitution."

- Wikipedia