Existentialism

 

I find it difficult ever to consider existentialism as more than an auxiliary or preparative philosophy, because of its readiness to ignore nature, to pour contempt on all ontology, and to lay its entire focus upon the willed choices of the subject.

 

Douglas Steere - Together in Solitude

 

 

The existentialists challenged both God and reason, and thus the Western claim that humanity has a special place in creation. We were no longer the chosen one, watched over like children by a beneficent God Father, nor was intellect capable of discovering truth or finding higher meaning in our lives. These conclusions, along with the discoveries of Darwin and Freud, shattered the Western psyche. The mind and soul- the twin darlings of Occidental philosophy and religion - were no longer the center pieces of creation, and it became the grim project of the existentialists to mourn their passing and write elegies. The despair felt by these late Western thinkers was both personal and collective; regret for themselves and for their culture.

 

The Existential Get Down - Wes Nisker

Inquiring Mind: Fall 1990 (Vipassana Journal)

 

 

"Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but not truth."

 

Unlike the Taoist and Zen Buddhists, who found liberation in a life without meaning, many existentialists were driven into severe depression by a universe that offered no answers. Without God or reason, these philosophers looked into an empty purposeless existence. Despair filled their lives and their literature: Nausea, Fear and Trembling, the Concept of Dread, No Exit.

 

The Existential Get Down - Wes Nisker

Inquiring Mind: Fall 1990 (Vipassana Journal)

 

 

 

The world can no longer offer anything to the man filled with anguish."

 

 Heidegger

 

What the existentialists lacked, though some of them yearned for it, was a way to get out of their minds. A few of them tried the way of the absurd. . .

 

"For the absurd man it is not a matter of explaining and solving, but of experience and describing. Everything begins with lucid indifference."

- Camus

 

The Existential Get Down - Wes Nisker

Inquiring Mind: Fall 1990 (Vipassana Journal)

 

 

First one adopts a subjectivism so extreme that it is found to be intolerable. One spurns the drifters. "The crowd". das Man (the anonymous "one"), and summons the solitary individual to commitment, resoluteness, engagement. Lukewarmness and routine are spurned; conviction, courage, and decision are called for. But then the terrifying question arises: Does anything go then, if only it is chosen with a will?

 

Walter Kaufman - Without Guilt and Justice

 

The existentialists are correct that within the realm of your own choices or your own doing, you have to affirm the choices you have made. That is you have to stand behind the choices you have made that contributed to molding your own fate; ;as the existentialists say, "we are our choices." Failing to affirm our own choices is called "bad faith" and is said to lead to "inauthentic being."

 

For me this came in the form of a very simple realization: at any time in this difficult process, I could have walked out. Nobody was chaining me to the hospital wards, no one threatened my life if I left, nobody had tied me down. Some place deep inside I had made a fundamental choice to stay with this woman through thick and thin, no matter what, forever; to see her through this process come what may. But somewhere during the second year of the ordeal, I forgot about this choice, even though it was a choice I was still making, obviously, or I would have left. I was displaying bad faith; I was being inauthentic; I wasn't real. ... I like to think of it like volunteering to go into combat and then getting shot. I feel a little bit wounded, and I'm not happy about that; but I freely volunteered for the assignment - it was my choice - and I would freely volunteer again, knowing full well what it entails.

Ken Wilber Grace and Grit ??