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  1. #1
    Member Penda's Avatar
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    Default The Four Existential Concerns

    How do you deal with the supposed four ultimate existential concerns? Namely,

    Death - How do you reconcile man's short lifespan with the desire for achievement, the finite with an innate hope for the infinite?

    Meaninglessness - Assuming there seems to be a lack of inherent objective meaning in the universe, and that is truly a cold and unforgiving place, how do you find the motivation to excel and maintain a sense of compassion?

    Freedom - If choices are unlimited, how do you avoid become hopelessly lost?

    Existential Isolation - If ultimately, no one can truly know you or understand you, how do you overcome this essential feeling of loneliness?
    There are miles to go before I sleep...

  2. #2
    IRL is not real Cimarron's Avatar
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    "Deal?" You mean personally?

    The only one of these 4 issues that bothers me is Meaninglessness.
    You can't spell "justice" without ISTJ.

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    Member Penda's Avatar
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    Well I guess they are supposed to be the ultimate existential concerns, according to some philosopher or another. People are supposed to have to confront them at some point in their life. So yeah, I was interested in anyone's personal experience with these questions or insight.
    There are miles to go before I sleep...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penda View Post
    How do you deal with the supposed four ultimate existential concerns? Namely,

    Death - How do you reconcile man's short lifespan with the desire for achievement, the finite with an innate hope for the infinite?
    Do whatever you can in what seems like a realistic period.

    Meaninglessness - Assuming there seems to be a lack of inherent objective meaning in the universe, and that is truly a cold and unforgiving place, how do you find the motivation to excel and maintain a sense of compassion?
    If it all means zero, I still have basic human instincts to fulfill. I'm designed to fulfill these instincts. I might as well do so.

    Or kill myself.

    But I rather fulfill said instincts and die later, this is sort of fun, most the time. Besides, the better I get at following instinct, the better I get at not killing myself.

    Thanks, evolution.

    Freedom - If choices are unlimited, how do you avoid become hopelessly lost?
    Your choices are limited by your ability to perceive them.

    Artificially limit your choices to set goals. This is called "focus."

    Thanks, reticular activating system and company.

    Existential Isolation - If ultimately, no one can truly know you or understand you, how do you overcome this essential feeling of loneliness?
    I'm a pack animal, and I have inbuilt socializing functions.

    These feelings are as real to me as anything/everything else. Might as well roll with them.

    What's my other option? Sitting around worrying about questions I can't answer?



    I rather ride my bike.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  5. #5
    Member lua's Avatar
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    Death - I suppose this isn't a large issue for me as I believe that we're all here at a certain time for a good reason and that death is freedom, no matter what I end up finding beyond it.

    Meaninglessness - I find it extremely hard to believe that it is truly cold and unforgiving given what I've found to be very warm and forgiving - but that is subjective, not objective. Guess I just cling to my subjectivity.

    Freedom - I've had the most trouble with this so I don't really have an answer. I'm honestly just hopelessly lost.

    Existential Isolation - I converse with inanimate objects and feel what others feel.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Penda View Post
    How do you deal with the supposed four ultimate existential concerns? Namely,

    Death - How do you reconcile man's short lifespan with the desire for achievement, the finite with an innate hope for the infinite?

    Meaninglessness - Assuming there seems to be a lack of inherent objective meaning in the universe, and that is truly a cold and unforgiving place, how do you find the motivation to excel and maintain a sense of compassion?

    Freedom - If choices are unlimited, how do you avoid become hopelessly lost?

    Existential Isolation - If ultimately, no one can truly know you or understand you, how do you overcome this essential feeling of loneliness?
    Cool, I both love and loath existentialism, I've got a pretty deterministic view of human kind but I like the ways in which existentialists treat choice and personal responsibility.

    I personally dont treat death as a problem, I'm pretty stoic about life's limits and the consequence limits upon possible achievements. I'm thirty and already think that I've less time and opportunities than I have hopes and dreams, on the other hand I'm optimistic and glass half full sort of person so I guess I've avoided a lot of tragic circumstances etc. too.

    Meaninglessness, I guess, yeah, maybe life is absurd, if you deconstruct and analyse it systems and habits over ride most else and determine the life course in a way that's not particularly meaningful but the fact it is so doesnt mean it must be so. Insight itself reframes the entire deal.

    Freedom, I think this is the greatest thing about existentialism, there is absolute choice at any time, however while there is total freedom of choice there isnt freedom of circumstances, of this I'm glad and think that the sooner people recognise this the happier they can or should be. In fact limiting the amount of choice can make for greater happiness than some would believe.

    Loneliness, I dont think this is as absolute as all that, its possible to make connections if you are skilled, attuned to others, mindful and have a good theory of mind to work with. There's no such thing as a hive mind, I think that's a good thing and something to be happy about.

    I do have to say that I'd qualify each of these things a great deal more than the average existentialist would, I really and truly believe that society is ontologically a priori to the individual and that individualism is actually a social construct which has only survived because its the most helpful and useful concept to emerge to date.

    Its a worthy goal, the better socialists and conservatives while opposing the individualism sold by liberals have valued individuality, at least as conceived as personal responsibility, as a goal or good. Which would up hold each of these existential dilemmas as something to be enjoyed if it ever could be properly recognised, achieved or experienced.

  7. #7
    Member Penda's Avatar
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    I guess I didn't really answer my own thread. Mainly because these questions are hard for me to answer at this point in my life, but I have thought about them.

    Death: The human lifespan seems far too short for all the things I want to accomplish with my life. However, I think knowing that death exists, and that we can not know how or when we will die, has a powerful effect on the way we think. If we are honest with ourselves, it makes sense to focus our lives more on joy than on security. No matter how thick the walls of sand we build are, the sea will eventually wash them away. In this way the concept of death can almost be beneficial. Almost.

    Meaninglessness: This one I have a difficult time with. How does one go about their lives when there is nothing inherently meaningful? I suppose in a way, it takes great courage and trust in yourself to let go enough to live in that manner, which is something difficult to achieve. You have to risk accepting that life can be random and whimsical in nature. It sometimes seems like much of the sorrow in this world is caused by people struggling with this issue.

    Freedom: The one is tough also. It is difficult to make a value judgment to choose one thing over another when there is no objective system to base it on. Sometimes the consequences can be grim when making the wrong choice, and regret is a bitter pill to swallow. But as children we rejoice in our freedom, and it is only as we age that our choices seem to carry so much gravity as to paralyze us.

    Existential Isolation: I am often a very solitary person, and I sometimes get the impression that I have things figured out in my head. But when I attempt to explain my thoughts to someone else, they are often baffled. I then realize that language, at its best, is not completely effective at translating what is in my mind to another person, which forms an essential limitation to mutual understanding. I suppose being an introvert makes this easier to deal with, and I can handle loneliness quite well.
    There are miles to go before I sleep...

  8. #8
    Member Penda's Avatar
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    BTW, thanks for all the replies. I enjoyed reading them.
    There are miles to go before I sleep...

  9. #9
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penda View Post
    How do you deal with the supposed four ultimate existential concerns? Namely,

    Death - How do you reconcile man's short lifespan with the desire for achievement, the finite with an innate hope for the infinite?
    We all die. In the end, everyone I know, everything I've done, everything I've ever touched or influenced, will be burnt to ash and then broken down into its' component atoms and scattered through space. No statues of me will last, no monuments made in my likeness shall endure, no histories telling of my tales shall persist.

    In the end, I shall truly and fully die, and everyone who ever knew me shall go with me.

    This leaves us with pretty much 2 main options: live in denial of this and try to attain immortality, either literally or through proxy (children, family name, recognition, history, religion, etc), or just accept this fact and enjoy the life yeu have while yeu have it.

    Most people live in fear and denial. I'd rather just go with the latter choice myself. Once yeu do that, there is no concern any longer as it's an absolute and pointless to fight against.

    "God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I Cannot change… Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference…"

    I know that I can't change death, and have, after many years thinking on the matter, the wisdom to not bother trying to.


    Meaninglessness - Assuming there seems to be a lack of inherent objective meaning in the universe, and that is truly a cold and unforgiving place, how do you find the motivation to excel and maintain a sense of compassion?
    See the matter on death; once again, eventually my purpose here will be GONE. I will have no lasting impact on anything. Any meaning I have is transitory, fleeting, and locked in this moment.

    Therefore, I do not bother dwelling on long term "change the world". Why bother? I can affect the lives of those directly near me for the better, and if it doesn't burden me to do so, sure why not? No reason not to really. But I'm not going to sacrifice myself for some "greater purpose".

    The meaning in life is the meaning yeu put there; yeu aren't given purpose by default, yeu have to make it yeurself. Once yeu're gone, it may linger like a ghost for a time, but eventually, that too shall fade.

    Live for the moment, but not at the expense of yeur future. Once yeur future is foreseeably removed, then yeu may as well just live for the moment after that point. The whole "Whot would yeu do if yeu had 24 hours to live" thing =3


    Freedom - If choices are unlimited, how do you avoid become hopelessly lost?
    Variations on a theme are still dumped into that underlying theme. Yeu may have an infinite ways to spread hazlenut spread onto yeur toast, yeu could do it horizontally, vertically, in small amounts, treat it like a painting, or whotever, but it's still putting chocolate on toast so really, the 'infinite' choices is a moot point.

    Stop panicing about the needless details; isolate the key main choices yeu have, and once yeu've done that, yeu'll realize yeu really didn't have any choice in the first place, just the illusion thereof.

    Yeur decisions are premade, dependent upon context, situation, history, memory, etc. Yeu've already MADE yeur choice before it was even presented to yeu. The only thing left is to understand the choice yeu made.

    I already 'know' I'm going to eat that extra slice of cake; I may be debating it back and forth in my head on the pros and cons, but it doesn't matter, I'm going to do it anyway from the start, it's just a matter of which combination of excuses and rationalizations I'm going to use to excuse myself for doing it.

    The inverse is also true; if yeu're NOT going to have that slice of cake, will yeu use the "I can't afford to gain weight" or the "it costs too much money" excuse? Yeu've already made up yeur mind, yeu just haven't rationalized the decision yet.

    In the end, yeur choices are false; they do not exist. The only thing yeu choose is how to interpret the choice yeu already didn't make.


    Existential Isolation - If ultimately, no one can truly know you or understand you, how do you overcome this essential feeling of loneliness?
    BY FEELING SPECIAL I'M UNIQUE! JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! =D

    Seriously, I don't even understand myself, why should anyone else? I don't feel lonely at all, because I realize that I don't understand myself. As such, I'm always together with everyone else who doesn't know me either.

    The mistake people make, is thinking they actually know who they are, and fully understand their own motivations down to the deepest subconscious levels. Yeu are lonely because yeu are manually separating yeurself from everyone else; if yeu didn't actively try to make yeurself separate from the rest of the world, yeu wouldn't be lonely now would yeu?

    Funny how that works.

    Yeu can be unique and yeurself, without understanding who yeu are. It doesn't mean yeu shouldn't try, but rather, yeu should accept this lack of self understanding and use it to bind yeu closer to others.

    Some of... actually no, MOST of my most meaningful conversations... have actually been very close ones with people I care about, exploring whot we don't know about our own selves. The fact that they may know things about me that I don't even know about myself is where that loneliness is defeated, as is the moment when I get to share that I know something about them that they didn't know themselves.

    Being pissed noone understands yeu is pointless; why the hell aren't yeu trying to get them to learn to understand yeu? Or at least trying to understand yeurself? Trust me, yeu really don't know yeurself nearly as well as yeu'd like to think. Yeu may know yeu'd do something, but chances are yeu probably don't really know WHY.

    When yeu realize that yeu are still as much an enigma to yeurself as to anyone else, then yeu'll have defeated this fourth 'concern' fully.

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