December 7, 2008 § 3 Comments

Recently in IDC, the class has been discussing the idea of existentialism.
Before I explain what my take on existentialism is, I will have to prepare your mind for it is a very difficult idea to grasp. Even I do not have a clear understanding of it.

What drives society? Success, and money. Since capitalism is conventional, people will work hard to get money to get what they want. Countries that do not follow this are unconventional or its the other way around. What I am trying to say is that everything we do is based on our wants.
I want to end poverty, so I go to an institution to gain adequate amount of knowledge so that I can get a stable job so I can give money to charity.
Even survival needs have become wants.
I need shelter, I want a big house.
I need food, I want to eat something nice
I need water, I want to take a long hot bath.
What was a privileged became a want. What we want is what we need.
I need an ipod because I can’t live without music.
I need a laptop because I can’t work.
I need a car because I can’t get to where I want to go.

Now we can get into existentialism.
If you put a newborn baby in a confined space where it has nobody to interact with, it will die and become nothing. The baby itself will have no form of thought and therefore would not know whether it existed or not. We know the baby exist for we see it. Therefore we want to free it from its space, feed it and maybe even want to give it a proper name. We want it to exist. However, because the baby does not know of these things, to itself, it does not exist. In summary, human greed can be attributed to humans wanting to exist, despite being nothing. But normally, we would be born into society, to die and become nothing. Yes, we will live on in the thoughts of others, but our thoughts will die with us and become nothing. Hence, we are nothing because we will become nothing. Then what is something? There is no human nature. What we think exists are mere illusions to cover up our blemishes. Everything is an excuse.
Because I am an American, I can act this way.
Because I had a bad childhood experience, I will kill bad people.
Because I am stupid, I can’t help other people.
Because I am rich, I can now donate money to the poor.
Because I am human…
We were influenced to pretend to exist. If the baby in that room had been given a proper name, and a proper family, it would grow and live to be another person you see on the subway, who will have desires, good or bad. But if everything originated from nothing, and will become nothing then that person you see on the subway may not have existed, their desires may not have existed, good and bad may not have existed.

Nothing, like the word unique, is not comparable. You can not have more nothing, or less nothing, nothing is nothing. Referring to the baby example, since the baby did not exist, it alone was nothing. But when you think about it, if everyone else is nothing, then you are just one person in nothing. When you strip off the illusions, we are all nothing. When conventions fall apart, and there is nothing left to influence are thought, we are all nothing.

Like the Rebuild Evangelion title says “You are (not) alone.”


§ 3 Responses to Existentialism

  • Kitsune says:

    Maslow put together a nice hierarchy of needs. Every human needs to breath, eat, and drink for example, but there are many things we can live without, as you mention. People can certainly survive and function well without ipods, laptops, and cars.

    If the baby will die it will not become nothing – it is against the law of energy conservation because energy can’t be created or destroyed and only changes form.

    Existence and self-awareness are two different things. The baby did exist regardless of her/his self-awareness.

    Human greed is influenced by many factors.

    You can’t define something by what it will become.

    When we strip all the illusions, we can realize that we are everything, but it takes a long time to truly understand that.

  • chocho12321 says:

    I agree with the statement above that the baby does “exist regardless of her/his self-awareness.” I’d also like to say that although the baby brought up without society still knows that it exists as it feels the pain of hunger. If a living object feels something or does something in the world, it must exist as it is interacting with its surroundings. However before we go any further into the subject, we must define existance. I would say that something exists when other people recognize its existance. Now lets go further into the subject. Lets say there was this person, call him Philip, First time in Canada during winter and he was walking down the street. He didn’t know there was ice on the street so he kept on walking until he slipped and fell on his ass. For Philip, the ice did not exist for the few moments of his stroll but when his butt made contact with the ground he came to the ice cold (pun intended) realization that ice existed between him and the street.

    Now greed is such an ugly term. Why don’t we just replace it with “our need to do things for our own purposes”? Hm? The PURE idea of exisance has nothing to do with greed as one recognizes their own self existance with the sense the moment they are born. Sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste. One cannot help but use these senses and in turn, interact with the surroundings thus recognizing the surroundings existance. Our need to do things for our own purposes isn’t an excuse at all, it is infact a “need”. We do our so called “greedy” not to make excuses of what we do, but to enhance our own existance and idea of self worth. How is that saying we are nothing, when we are just building on what we already have. Its like a small village growing into a city.

    ANYWAYS, dunno how to conclude really so. Just throwing that out there.

  • Argon says:

    I feel that your IDC class would benefit from a Philosophy student.
    The question of existance has been around for some time, and the guy above is right: it needs to be defined before you try to argue it.

    In contradiction to some stuff that we had discussed when you first told me about your IDC class (that is now written in this blog entry) I’d like to mention Rene Descartes. Keep in mind that he is (in my opinion) an idiot, and that most people don’t believe what he says. But he would be pissed at you right now.
    According to him, the idea “I exist” is the ONLY thing in the entire universe of which we are one hundred percent certain. He is famous for coming up with the statement: “I think, therefore I am.”, with the major premise being that where thinking occurs, there must be existance. So I agree with what was said above. The baby feels pain, hunger, thirst, and discomfort from poopy diapers. These feelings are, according to Descartes, forms of thinking. Therefore, until it dies, it exists.

    I would say more, but it’s more fun to discuss in person. Nice blog entry, BTW.

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