Thursday, February 7, 2008

Existentialism

The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately, sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it’s a philosophy of despair. But I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre once interviewed said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. But one thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance of feeling on top of it. It’s like your life is yours to create. I’ve read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. But when I read them, I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete. It’s you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in the world and counting. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.

Philosophy professor Robert Solomon, at the University of Texas at Austin

5 comments:

poshlemon said...

I don't like postmodernists. They always trash history ;)

But, yes I agree with the last two sentences. It's always our decision. Recently, I have been discussing the idea of destiny with several friends. I personally don't believe in destiny. I think it's a good excuse to feel better about our misfortunes or to explain certain things we can't comprehend. Fair enough if it makes it easier for one to cope. But, in my opinion, it is all our own decision-making; choices that lead us in a certain direction and only that.

How's it going with the apartment hunting?

Lirun said...

why do u have to be in lebanon rght now if u dont like it..

zerolando said...

Poshlemon I decided to postpone it for many considerations. But just postpone it not totally forget it.

@lirun

1) Because of family considerations. I might hate the place, but I still care for my family and owe them a lot. So,"temporarily" , I gotta live with this nagging reality, and here is the best place for me to voice my complaints.But then some people might say , if you don't care about the place why are you complaining. Answer: VEry good question. I don't know.

2) Was gonna let the DarkVader Business side of me express itself about how easier it is to outshine in a backwards country but I don't think its politically correct so I decided not to dive in dangerous waters.
;)

sweetscentofbeirut said...

I think its a superb idea.

"The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life."

but what I disagree with is

"existentialism generally postulates that the absence of a transcendent force (such as God)"

in a way that belief is paralell to darwinism which I cant stand.

Jester said...

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You host a lovely blog!!