Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Existentialism

Responded to a question on reddit today about existentialism:

"So i have some time on my hands and wanted to explore a little further into Existentialism.

As I have learned it, especially through Nietzsche's writings, there is no ultimate purpose or goal in the universe. When you die, nothing happens and that's all there is. However, it is up to the individual to create his own purpose in life and reason for living. This belief doesn't justify any sort of living. If a man's purpose in life is to kill and steal, there is his purpose. This also applies to the religious people...their purpose in life is to praise God and be a religious/good person. As an extistentialist, you can't blame them because that is their purpose.

That's kinda my philosophy on life so far....and Existentialism as I understand it. Am I getting the point of the theory or am I incorrect in what I believe what existentialism is?"

The following is my response:

If a man's purpose in life is to kill and steal, there is his purpose. This also applies to the religious people...their purpose in life is to praise God and be a religious/good person. As an extistentialist, you can't blame them because that is their purpose.

I don't think anyone should stick to any one purpose, especially if it is something as appalling as killing. If someone has come to a place where they have decided that killing and stealing is their purpose, then I think it is only inevitable that others will make their own purpose a reaction against that.

As an extistentialist, you can't blame them because that is their purpose.

Yes you can blame them for things like screwing up the world if they have made something awry of their purpose in life, and if you have the capacity you can show them their errors in a hope that they may reconsider their ambitions.

It's true that we, especially those of us who aren't subject to enforced doctrines of 'right living', do have to at times to generate or find our own purposes to direct our will and energy.

Many people don't really seem think about this, and simply follow the social norms that are ingrained within whatever culture they are raised in. It's not that these norms are in themselves harmful, but they can be limiting if they are viewed as exclusive and regard deviation as anathema.

there is no ultimate purpose or goal in the universe. When you die, nothing happens and that's all there is.

I myself do not agree with this assertion. It's true that the purpose of existence itself is a baffling mystery that many people come up with their own answers for, but it is not something readily realized by everyone equally, like, say, the purpose of hunger and thirst. There are, however, clues that cause us to see patterns in life that point toward perceived purposes, like the evolution of species or the strive toward peace and equality. Also, I believe in (or rather, hold a high favour with the concept of) reincarnation, but I don't think that in any way would hinder my own perception of existentialism itself.

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