Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The ism of Existentialism:

What a man is and can become is a fundament question for man. To fail to be human would mean slipping into nothingness. Man, however, is not a self-sufficient entity, but he is constituted by the things he makes his own. In every form of his, man is related to something other than himself. If man wants to grasp himself directly, he ceases to understand himself- to know who he is and what he should do. He faces a state of forever confusion.

The existence of man 'being there' as coined by many existentialists like Dostoevsky and Heidegger can be understood immediately by this key sentence: "the essence of being there lies in its existence." In metaphysics both refer to the reality of anything, from God to a grain of sand. Man exists, and he can be conscious of it, both at the same time. The physics follows him. However, he compounds his problems when he goes into what Sartre called the 'Faith' of self-deception. The problem of self deception evidently stems from the fact that self-deception is faith. It is neither a lie nor a certainty- but simple adherence. Man believes in concepts which he forges to persuade himself. What self-deception on other level does, is, that it makes truth appear as a method of thinking. 

Sartre here simplifies things to some extent, by this doctrine: existence comes before essence. We think of God as the ultimate creator. When He creates he knows precisely what he is creating. God makes man according to a procedure and formula. The essence here precedes existence. We call it the human nature. Something that is common in between a peasant and the bourgeois.

However, Sartre twists this in an interesting way. He says if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before essence. That being is man or the human reality. What does he mean by existence comes before essence? He means that man first exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world- and then defines himself afterwards. Thus, there is no human nature. Man simply is. Not that he is simply what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he wills. Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. That is the first principle of existentialism. There is nothing good or evil, only the will of the man. This perhaps explains the extreme steps few beings take: A murder. A heist. A rape. The culprit never sees evil in his acts. He exists and his essence drives him. 

Perturbed I've always been over this: someone born in felony, lawlessness and immorality - with no control over it, can we really blame this 'being'? Isn't his circumstances to be blamed and not him? It is Gods will after all.

'Before the law' is a parable by Kafka in which Before law stands a gatekeeper on guard. A man from the country comes to seek admission to the law. He is stopped. The man understands the power of the gatekeeper- he his tall and stout. He agrees to wait. And he waits for years. When the gatekeeper perceives that the man is at the end of his strength, he bellows in his ear: "No one but you could gain admittance through this door, since this door was intended only for you. I am now going to shut it."  Did the Doorkeeper delude the man? No, he actually didn't. He was deluded himself. He was only following orders. He is a servant to the law. The man is seeking the law, the doorkeeper is already attached to it. For gatekeeper to doubt his integrity is to doubt the Law itself. The gatekeeper never doubts. He never knows what goes inside. He is a mere pawn. The parable ends by this line: it is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must accept it as necessary." A melancholy conclusion. 

Yeh paap hai kya
Yeh punya hai kya,
Reetoon par dharam ki mohren hain.
Har yug main badalte dharmoon ko 
Kaise adarsh banaoge?' 

What is a sin
And what is a good deed?
It is just a stamp of approval or disapproval of the society 
on rituals and customs.