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Existentialism and Postmodernism

TrueScotsman
Posts: 515
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3/28/2016 4:21:49 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
The two most influential ideas on me over the last several months has been Existentialism and Postmodernism (both critiques for the Enlightenment modernism).

This thread is for discussing these ideas.

Existentialism is the perspective of philosophy that doesn't begin with the problem of knowledge, but from the reality of existence. That one finds themselves regardless of how they answer the question of epistemology, that they are already a being within the universe. So it takes philosophy from the abstract high in the sky perspective down to our own level of existence, where meaning is highly contextualized and existence is utterly contingent.

Postmodernism in philosophy derives its ideas from new insights into linguistics, where we are realizing that there is an inherent incompleteness to our conceptualizations of reality, which have effectively created a dualism that separates the subject from objects. Far from being mere descriptions of reality, language creates reality for the individual perspective that is indoctrinated in the cultural symbolism of their given tribalistic system. Many try to adopt Postmodernism within a modern framework and try to relativize knowledge, but from an Existential perspective deeper insight is to be gained.

This synthesis I think is found most eloquently stated in the writings of Ernest Becker, who wrote about man's quest for meaning with the suppression of the knowledge of one's mortality.

"Modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awarness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing. As awarness calls for types of heroic dedication that his culture no longer provides for him, society contrives to help him forget. In the mysterious way in which life is given to us in evolution on this planet, it pushes in the direction of its own expansion. We don"t understand it simply because we don"t know the purpose of creation; we only feel life straining in ourselves and see it thrashing others about as they devour each other. Life seeks to expand in an unknown direction for unknown reasons.

What are we to make of creation in which routine activity is for organisms to be tearing others apart with teeth of all types - biting, grinding flesh, plant stalks, bones between molars, pushing the pulp greedily down the gullet with delight, incorporating its essence into one"s own organization, and then excreting with foul stench and gasses residue. Everyone reaching out to incorporate others who are edible to him. The mosquitoes bloating themselves on blood, the maggots, the killer-bees attacking with a fury and a demonism, sharks continuing to tear and swallow while their own innards are being torn out - not to mention the daily dismemberment and slaughter in "natural" accidents of all types: an earthquake buries alive 70 thousand bodies in Peru, a tidal wave washes over a quarter of a million in the Indian Ocean. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all creatures. The soberest conclusion that we could make about what has actually been taking place on the planet about three billion years is that it is being turned into a vast pit of fertilizer. But the sun distracts our attention, always baking the blood dry, making things grow over it, and with its warmth giving the hope that comes with the organism"s comfort and expansiveness
."
Ernest Becker
DPMartin
Posts: 1,096
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3/28/2016 9:22:22 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
So what you are saying here, is like Ernest"s opinion, is all there is beyond what physically exists, correct? Na, life doesn"t expand, it lives and gives life. If taking life is the way to sustain life or live, its do to the biological system in place, which can"t operate any other way. You can"t eat dirt and live. Bread and water is required, (whatever that is for what form of life) So it seems your view isn"t really taking reality at even face value.

Besides, fertilizer is what it is, and what is made of fertilizer, returns to fertilizer. But is the essences of life of fertilizer, is the question? So yes one is separate from the other, in many and especially religious views, because a living thing, the presence of a living thing, and the expression of a living thing to it"s surroundings, is viewed as higher than the dirt it is present in.
TrueScotsman
Posts: 515
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3/28/2016 11:49:52 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
It seems you are mistaken about his point, he is arguing that mankind suppresses death in particular and his own insignificance by the invention of culture and religion. For instance, the fact that mankind isn't some unnatural sentient being, but is merely a self aware bipedal primates, we are natural animals behaving in symbolic ways that can be helpful or harmful.