2. Existence

“I exist” is unique and indubitable, there is no possible rival belief.

On top of this, we seem compelled to believe that others exist as well. We claim, at least some claim, we can doubt* this, but can we? We go on speaking regardless.  More, what is the self without other selves?  We come to be in communion, without it, we are not. 

Existence cannot be an object of knowledge. It’s primary, private, and incommunicable, assumed in knowing itself. I cannot describe to another what it means for me to exist, because I presume my existence and theirs in the act of description.

The question of the Being is not, therefore, a problem.  For problems deal with objects.  “What is the orbital velocity of Venus?” is a problem.  “Who am I?” is a mystery, a question that cannot be detached from the self and which, ultimately, cannot be answered by us, though perhaps a solution can be gestured towards.** 

What else is similarly indubitable?  What lies behind the veil of mystery? 

Awareness that my existence did not derive from itself, that, at the very ground of our being, we are transcended. 

Awareness that I am free to choose. This awareness is supposedly very controversial, but its denial makes no sense to me.  As with existence, even the articulation of the doubt seems to presume it illusory character. It’s very odd to proclaim oneself an automaton.

Awareness of being with time, experiencing time as a present to which past and future refer. I am not aware in a disembodied sense of the outer world changing, but rather exist in and with these changes.  I am a temporal being, historical.

Awareness of anxiety, dread, pride, despair, faith.  These all follow from the point above, for in being aware of the transcendent, we are aware of the vast gulf between our being and that from which we derive. We cannot stand outside anxiety or dread or faith and observe them. We cannot stand outside them because we know of them only as experienced, as preconditions for our experience.


*Doubt cannot be our initial encounter with reality, but must be a withdraw from primary experience, reliant on that experience.  Hence why philosophy most certainly does not begin in doubt, but wonder.

Theaetetus: “By the God’s Socrates, I am lost in wonder”

Socrates: “…for this feeling of wonder shows that you are a philosopher, since wonder is the only beginning of philosophy”

Wonder is rooted in the realization that reality, Being, is a mystery. 

**Mystery is not a dead end, contradiction, or paradox.  It is not some obfuscatory veil thrown up to dissuade inquiry (though it might appear such to the proud and impatient***), but rather an inexhaustible source of light, a recognition of the unfathomable depths of Being, of the true.

***Our stance toward the mystery of existence must be one of deep humility, a recognition of our finitude, our limitation, the reality that our being is not our own, but a gift. 

Also, I am a profoundly impatient person, lest you think all these barbs are all directed outward.

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5 responses to “2. Existence”

  1. […] from the torpor of beings, and engenders the wonder which is the start of true philosophy (see the first note from a few posts ago).  This is also why Kierkegaard uses indirect speech in his own works, to force us to go beyond […]

  2. […] from the torpor of beings, and engenders the wonder which is the start of true philosophy (see the first note from a few posts ago).  This is also why Kierkegaard uses indirect speech in his own works, to force us to go beyond […]

  3. […] grinds the individual down into atomized masses.”  Without other selves, we have no self.  Our being is established in communion, but this communion must be dissolved in order for the technological to triumph.  Hence, the […]

  4. […] It is necessary, then, that awareness of death and the awareness of life that accompanies it serves as a motive for companionship, marital and civil, because we form our selves in communion.    […]

  5. […] one of the first posts during my initial writing challenge, I made a sort of leap between the indubitability of our being, the fact that we can’t doubt […]

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