Existential angst

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by juicemakesugar, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. toadstone

    toadstone Member

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    When I feel like everything in life is meaningless, I remember that it's meaningless that it is meaningless. Seriously, that helps.
     
  2. juicemakesugar

    juicemakesugar Senior member

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    I thought existential angst was getting what you want but still feeling empty? Your problem sounds like you aren't looking in the right places. Experiential and not existential.
    Hmmm....I'll look into that.
    There's no "out;" you're in the darkness and that's that.
    At the 0:37 mark. I think I got it now. By the way for those that have helped me, go fuck yourselves: (added new tag)
     
  3. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    Not to take this in the wrong direction and not to get into a long philosophical discussion, but one of the things I'm always amazed about is how existentialism is often connected directly with "angst" or "nausea" or being depressing. This really isn't the case, unless one is misreading their Sartre (or, reading too much into their overly-lyrical Camus).

    In and of itself, Sartrian existentialism basically just says that there is no core meaning... no "inside" and that consciousness is basically intentional. He never really was able to adapt this into real world situations or a usable ethics with which he was satisfied (l'etre et le neant/Being and Nothingness doesn't get into the real or ethical dimensions of his ideas and his "Notebooks for an Ethics" was never completed.)

    The nausea or angst comes not because there is no "core," but just because our entire culture/society has been organized to tell us that there IS one. So, the nausea isn't really due to the existentialism, but sort of the latent pain at realizing how out of touch we are with reality as a culture.

    Nevertheless, if I had to make a recommendation, I'd say skip over the Sartre AND the Camus and go straight on to Merleau-Ponty. He's not as well known because he isn't as political as Sartre, not as literary as Camus, but for pure philosophical "meatiness," he can't be beat and I think has had a greater impact on future philosophers than either of the others.

    Therefore, I'd say that what you are feeling is a part of maturing/growing up and being in your early 20's. If you are like me, you spend your upbringing hearing one set of beliefs, then move away to college and learn/read about another one that seems more in line with what your brain is telling you. This crisis of conscience, though a bit painful, nevertheless should be seen as a POSITIVE thing. So, while working on your mental outlook, this is why I also recommended balancing it with working on your physical outlook. Go sign up for kickboxing classes or something. Or, as another user mentioned, go get laid. Maybe more than once.
     
  4. Dedalus

    Dedalus Senior member

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    I think I got it now. By the way for those that have helped me, go fuck yourselves:


    Well, that's not very nice. [​IMG]

    Not to take this in the wrong direction and not to get into a long philosophical discussion, but one of the things I'm always amazed about is how existentialism is often connected directly with "angst" or "nausea" or being depressing. This really isn't the case, unless one is misreading their Sartre (or, reading too much into their overly-lyrical Camus).

    I can never resist a good philosophical discussion, especially with a head full of caffeine.

    I think one has to consider the context of the absurd revelation and existential crisis for many people. In the pre-absurd condition, people often leave the foundations of their own beliefs unexamined and are unconscious of them as such. To them, those beliefs not only play a major part in their own identity but the external world around them as well. Though they may claim otherwise out of politeness or mindless dogmatism, their way is 'the' way at the end of the day.

    Then they find out Santa isn't real. I think it's worth noting that this isn't limited to major religions, but also ideals unintentionally modeled after Platonic forms. Even if the end result is more happiness for the absurd man, such a revelation isn't usually an easy one to deal with.

    Another thing that might contribute to the 'angst' is the connotations of the language used to describe the meaninglessness of it all, to add to the 'misreading' of Sartre. Examine the sentence:

    "There is no meaning to life, except that which we create."

    While the statement might be true with the proper interpretation, it is tactless. "You mean nothing to me" is really hurtful if you hear it constantly from everyone and everything that you're not familiar with. Hell, even the stapler thinks you're worthless. You might mean something to yourself and your loved ones, but according to the statement above, that is secondary to the primary message of being conveyed; it is merely an exception to the general truth. On top of all that, the invisible subject of the statement gives it that much more authority. You are arguing with a supernatural being that doesn't exist, one that, unlike ourselves, is able to determine whether existence has intrinsic meaning.

    Philosophical ideas require terms to be more precise than common language allows. While people lament the language that philosophy uses, it is necessary for avoiding misinterpretations, as in Voltaire's portrayal of Leibniz in Candide or Aristophanes' portrayal of Socrates in Clouds. A more precise statement might be as follows:

    "Because we experience subjectivity at all times, we are in no position to determine whether or not our subjective experience has value beyond that which we create. We have little to no grounds for believing otherwise; besides, what could be gained even if we did believe otherwise? We should focus on the meanings that we create."

    With all this talk of existential crises and death, I can't resist this quote:

    "The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with enthusiasm, is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death."

    Maybe that's why a cigarette is just so good after sex.
     
  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Read Stefan Zweig's "˜World of Yesterday'. Seriously, reading about his passion is amazingly uplifting.

    Jon.
     
  6. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    Get laid, smoke a cigarette.

    This works too.



    Only if you are the type to need the approval or admiration of others.

    We're all of this type.

    What do you mean Camus made it out? He criticized past existentialists for offering any hope.

    Camus of The Stranger is different from the later Camus of The Chute.

    Absurdism is to become aware of one's absurd situation and do nothing in reaction. There's no "out;" you're in the darkness and that's that. The only difference is that you're aware that you're in the dark, perhaps with scorn and contempt.

    Right about absurdism/nihilism.
    But position taken in the last sentence goes beyond nihilism. That's a power move. And power is not nothing. Scorn and contempt are the cheap, adolescent ways we try to convince ourselves we are of value.

    As for the Republic, I'm not sure how political theory will be helpful for the OP, unless you expect him to buy into antiquated quasi-religious concepts.

    We are political animals. We are part of society. And our happiness depends to some degree on the happiness of society. There is no such thing as the purely self-made man. Did write the books I love? Did I make the clothes I'm wearing? Did I grow the food I eat? Did I teach myself the language w/ which I think and communicate? Did I give birth to myself? Even if I walked naked to the ocean and swam to an island and lived there alone for the rest of my life with nothing produced by another human being, my thoughts and abilities--and anything produced by them--would be the product of others to some degree.

    That's one way of answering your question. Another is that the whole of the Republic is an answer to the question that arises in the first chapter, "What is the good life? How can a person be truly happy?"
     
  7. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    I can never resist a good philosophical discussion, especially with a head full of caffeine.

    I think one has to consider the context of the absurd revelation and existential crisis for many people. In the pre-absurd condition, people often leave the foundations of their own beliefs unexamined and are unconscious of them as such. To them, those beliefs not only play a major part in their own identity but the external world around them as well. Though they may claim otherwise out of politeness or mindless dogmatism, their way is 'the' way at the end of the day.

    Then they find out Santa isn't real. I think it's worth noting that this isn't limited to major religions, but also ideals unintentionally modeled after Platonic forms. Even if the end result is more happiness for the absurd man, such a revelation isn't usually an easy one to deal with.

    Another thing that might contribute to the 'angst' is the connotations of the language used to describe the meaninglessness of it all, to add to the 'misreading' of Sartre. Examine the sentence:

    "There is no meaning to life, except that which we create."

    While the statement might be true with the proper interpretation, it is tactless. "You mean nothing to me" is really hurtful if you hear it constantly from everyone and everything that you're not familiar with. Hell, even the stapler thinks you're worthless. You might mean something to yourself and your loved ones, but according to the statement above, that is secondary to the primary message of being conveyed; it is merely an exception to the general truth. On top of all that, the invisible subject of the statement gives it that much more authority. You are arguing with a supernatural being that doesn't exist, one that, unlike ourselves, is able to determine whether existence has intrinsic meaning.

    Philosophical ideas require terms to be more precise than common language allows. While people lament the language that philosophy uses, it is necessary for avoiding misinterpretations, as in Voltaire's portrayal of Leibniz in Candide or Aristophanes' portrayal of Socrates in Clouds. A more precise statement might be as follows:

    "Because we experience subjectivity at all times, we are in no position to determine whether or not our subjective experience has value beyond that which we create. We have little to no grounds for believing otherwise; besides, what could be gained even if we did believe otherwise? We should focus on the meanings that we create."

    With all this talk of existential crises and death, I can't resist this quote:

    "The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with enthusiasm, is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death."

    Maybe that's why a cigarette is just so good after sex.


    +1. Very good, insightful post. If only you had thrown in "pre-reflective cogito" I think you'd be set... [​IMG]
     
  8. Dedalus

    Dedalus Senior member

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    Camus of The Stranger is different from the later Camus of The Chute.

    I'm unfamiliar with The Chute, only Stranger and Myth. [​IMG]

    But position taken in the last sentence goes beyond nihilism. That's a power move. And power is not nothing. Scorn and contempt are the cheap, adolescent ways we try to convince ourselves we are of value.

    Well, I was making a tongue-in-cheek reference to Myth of Sisyphus with the scorn, but I agree.

    We are political animals...
    That's one way of answering your question. Another is that the whole of the Republic is an answer to the question that arises in the first chapter, "What is the good life? How can a person be truly happy?"


    I'm going to take issue with the latter, rather than the former, as I think it relates more immediately to the existential discussion at hand. I think those questions you mention and the terminology they use are too muddled and confused to be productive. It presupposes that 'good' denotes something beyond 'effective' or 'useful in acheiving [blank],' that a true ideal happiness, let alone an achievable one, is something beyond a fancy. You wouldn't call something truly orange, after all?
     
  9. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    At the 0:37 mark. I think I got it now. By the way for those that have helped me, go fuck yourselves: (added new tag)
    Well done, very well done! I may have to use those clips in class. I wish I was better at techno stuff. Fox's character calls the bluff of Cruise's. If nothing really matters, then why do you speak? If nothing really matters, then why do you live? Suicide takes effort, but so does living. Why eat? Nihilism ultimately is a form of religion: self-idolotry.
    ...Nevertheless, if I had to make a recommendation, I'd say skip over the Sartre AND the Camus and go straight on to Merleau-Ponty. ... ...So, while working on your mental outlook, this is why I also recommended balancing it with working on your physical outlook. Go sign up for kickboxing classes or something. Or, as another user mentioned, go get laid. Maybe more than once.
    What would you recommend by Merleau-Ponty? I've never read his work. +1 on the physical stuff. Endorphins.
    ...I think one has to consider the context of the absurd revelation and existential crisis for many people. In the pre-absurd condition, people often leave the foundations of their own beliefs unexamined and are unconscious of them as such. To them, those beliefs not only play a major part in their own identity but the external world around them as well. Though they may claim otherwise out of politeness or mindless dogmatism, their way is 'the' way at the end of the day.
    Very true. But let's not forget that nihilists and aethists, even agnostics can be mindlessly dogmatic in their beliefs.
    Then they find out Santa isn't real. I think it's worth noting that this isn't limited to major religions, but also ideals unintentionally modeled after Platonic forms. Even if the end result is more happiness for the absurd man, such a revelation isn't usually an easy one to deal with.
    Hmm. On what does "the absurd man" base his "more happiness"? A sense of superiority to others? Knowing that he doesn't know? Doesn't sound like an inauthentic absurdity to me. What is it really?
    "There is no meaning to life, except that which we create."
    Good. However... I would say that "There is no meaning to life, except that which we create, AND that which we receive." THAT we receive meaning is undeniable. Or did you invent all the words you use? WHAT we recieve and HOW we receive it is what matters. Is what we receive true and good, or not? How much and under what condition(s) is it true and good? One might ask, how was what we receive created? A simple example. As college freshmen, my friends and I had a burst of freedom. We abandoned many rules we'd received from our parents. In abandoning them we tested them. Some passed the test, to greater or lesser degrees. Some of that depended on the quality of parenting we'd received, of course.
    "Because we experience subjectivity at all times, we are in no position to determine whether or not our subjective experience has value beyond that which we create. We have little to no grounds for believing otherwise; besides, what could be gained even if we did believe otherwise? We should focus on the meanings that we create."
    How would you feel if you were in the back of Fox's cab near the collision? How would you feel someone were about to cut off your hands for stealing? Subjectivity is essential and good. But let's not make it the whole deal. Can we really say that there is no way we say anything is objectively true? Would you like to defend genocide?
    "The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with enthusiasm, is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death."
    Quite true, but again, incomplete. "Reproduction is the beginning of death, AND death is the beginning of life."
    Read Stefan Zweig’s ‘World of Yesterday’. Seriously, reading about his passion is amazingly uplifting.
    Would you be so kind as to quote some things for us? I'm always up for and uplift.
     
  10. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    I'm going to take issue with the latter, rather than the former, as I think it relates more immediately to the existential discussion at hand. I think those questions you mention and the terminology they use are too muddled and confused to be productive. It presupposes that 'good' denotes something beyond 'effective' or 'useful in acheiving [blank],' that a true ideal happiness, let alone an achievable one, is something beyond a fancy. You wouldn't call something truly orange, after all?

    Interesting.

    I think I would call something truly orange. I'm no Platonic idealist.

    I think good does denote something beyond usefullness/effectiveness, and I think that you would agree. Or, for example, is your mother good only to the extent that she is useful?

    And I think that true happiness is more than a fancy. I think it is a combination of achievable and receivable.

    [​IMG]

    And I think it starts w/ breakfast, to which I now go.
     
  11. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    I'm unfamiliar with The Chute, only Stranger and Myth. [​IMG]


    I'm assuming this is a reference to "La Chute," what is usually translated in the English editions as "The Fall."

    Emptym, as for Merleau-Ponty, his major work is "Phenomenology of Perception," but some of his books of essays, "Sense and Nonsense" for example, are also good. His major contribution to the quagmire is his inclusion of the body, something Sartre doesn't really deal with all that much.
     
  12. Dedalus

    Dedalus Senior member

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    I think I would call something truly orange. I'm no Platonic idealist.
    That is strange. We receive sensory input and see a color. We assign a label for that color. The word and accompanying idea of 'orange' is predicated of the actual sensory input. We might see many similar colors, and also assign them as orange, but of varying degrees. Aside from an arbitrary declaration of 'X frequency of wavelength is the standard of orange,' perhaps established in consensus by the general public or what have you, I don't see how orange can be "true." [​IMG] Which shade is the true orange, and more importantly, how did you determine that? To raise another problematic issue with ideals, can you say one hair is moreso a hair than another? On what grounds do some ideas warrant a true ideal and others not? (Parminides, Plato)
    I think good does denote something beyond usefullness/effectiveness, and I think that you would agree. Or, for example, is your mother good only to the extent that she is useful?
    Here are the ways that my mother has been useful: -Gave birth to me -Reared me -Provides a fulfilling relationship in the role of 'mom' -etc. That may not be as heartwarming as 'how do I love thee, mum, let me count the ways,' but what could good mean beyond that?
     
  13. naapa

    naapa Active Member

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    Buy Anthony Robbin's "Get the edge". Helped me A LOT!
     
  14. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    I'm assuming this is a reference to "La Chute," what is usually translated in the English editions as "The Fall."

    Emptym, as for Merleau-Ponty, his major work is "Phenomenology of Perception," but some of his books of essays, "Sense and Nonsense" for example, are also good. His major contribution to the quagmire is his inclusion of the body, something Sartre doesn't really deal with all that much.


    Oops, yes, the Fall.
    Thanks for the rec.
     
  15. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    First, was "The Fall" about a guy in a city with the plague? Been a very long time since I read Al.

    Second, this thread makes me so glad those thoughts of a Ph.D. in Philosophy were quashed long ago. I mean, for instance, that whole lengthy thing about "orange". One sentence says it all, "Words do not denote". Not that it was not a good explanation. I think I remember liking Wittegstein when I was besotted with philosophy because he was a) pithy and b) didn't hand over the answers.
     

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