Today I want to write about “existentialism”. Existentialism is a mutli-faceted term. In this post, I refer to a particular way of looking and experienting the human condition. this way has been expressed in philosophy, literature, the movies, the arts.
Sartre turned Cartesius up side down, by saying “existence precedes essence”.
But is was Heidegger before Sartre who actualy turned against all tradition and proposed that being is time.
But how did it all begin? The answer lies somewhere in between Cartesius and Heidegger. But where? And is it only one or many potential sources of this new way of looking at “being”? The starting point for my post is Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and writer.
Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and writer. He lived in the first half of the 19th century and has written many diverse books. I prefer to quote directly from his writings, rather than attempt to interpret him, a task for which I am not sufficient by any stretch of the imagination.
“Philosophy is perfectly right in saying that life must be understood backward. But then one forgets the other clause – that it must be lived forward. The more one thinks about this clause, the more one concludes that life in temporality never becomes properly understandable, simply because never at any time does one get perfect repose to take a stance- backward.” Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers, I-VII, Bloomington:Indiana University Press (IV A 164)
“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past…
…What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets
“Οδός άνω κάτω μία και ωυτή”
Ηράκλειτος (Απ. 60) (Ευχαριστω τον Μανωλη για το σχολιο του και την παραπομπη στον Ηρακλειτο) “The way up, the way down, one and the same” Heracletus (The Heracletus quote was contributed in a comment by Manolis) “To be able to forget always depends upon how one remembers, but how one remembers depends upon how one experiences actuality. ….nil admirari (marvel at nothing) is the proper wisdom of life. No part of life ought to have so much meaning for a person that he cannot forget it any momenthe wants to; on the other hand, every single part of life ought to have so much meaning for a person that he can remember it at any moment. ….A person’s resiliency can actually be measured by his power to forget…..forgetfulness is not identical with the art of being able to forget. ” Kierkegaard, Either/Or “My Cordelia, I am in love with myself, people say of me. …And why? Because I am in love with you; for you I love and you alone and everything that that truly belongs to you, and thus I love myself because this self of mine belongs to you, so that if I stopped loving you, I would stop loving myself.” Kierkegaard, Either/Or