Friedrich Nietzsche, by contrast, suggested laughter to be a reaction to the sense of existential loneliness and mortality that only humans feel.
"You’ll never know why you exist, but you’ll always allow yourselves to be easily persuaded to take life seriously."
"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between this profusion of matter and the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness."
André Malraux, Les Noyers de l’Altenburg (The Walnut Trees of Altenburg)
"‘Knowing that each of them may die at any moment,’ thought God, ‘they will not, by grasping at gains that may last so short a time, spoil the hours of life allotted to them.’ …But it turned out otherwise."
The new issue of New Scientist is all about existentialism, with snazzy graphics and ideas that will probably depress you. Or at least make you feel insignificant.
Aw hell yeah. New Scientist is a British magazine and I don’t think it’s widely circulated in the States, but digital issues are available here via Zinio. And the Zinio Tumblr is pretty cool, actually.
"Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague, metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us."
"You couldn’t even wonder where all that sprang from, or how it was that a world came into existence, rather than nothingness. It didn’t make sense, the world was everywhere, in front, behind. There had been nothing before it. Nothing. There had never been a moment in which it could not have existed. That was what worried me: of course there was no reason for this flowing larva to exist. But it was impossible for it not to exist. It was unthinkable: to imagine nothingness you had to be there already, in the midst of the World, eyes wide open and alive; nothingness was only an idea in my head, an existing idea floating in this immensity: this nothingness had not come before existence, it was an existence like any other and appeared after many others."
On the point of relationships.
What’s the point of relationships? If the initial high is temporary and then you stick together until you hate each other so much that you cheat or break up, then what’s the point? Is there ever a time when people find someone they really love?
The human condition is a fun ride, but don’t ever forget that we’re all just a bunch of talking meat wrapped around a sack of warm shit programmed to eat, sleep, and fuck.
We’re social animals with a biological imperative to reproduce. That’s it. That’s all. Love is a neurochemical response with a shelf life long enough to perpetuate the species.
And hey, I don’t wanna hear you complaining about it either, because quite frankly, you’re one lucky motherfucker to have air in your lungs and the opportunity to be confused by it at all.
The last breath you just took is one more than a hundred billion human beings who came before you will ever get to take again, and one day, the last breath you just took will be the last breath you’ll ever take.
That day is the point of relationships, that day when you cease to fucking exist, because it’s guaranteed, my friend. This shit all ends, so cram as much love, joy, and shout-it-from-the-rooftops happiness as you possibly can into whatever time you can make for yourself.
Meet as many interesting people as you can. Make as many friends as you can. Fall in love as many times as you can. Fuck if it hurts sometimes. You’re one of the lucky ones who’s still breathing.
All we have in this world is relationships with other people. At this stage in our evolution, nothing else matters.
need this on my blog.
Question of the Day?
Which of these schools of thought do you most agree with?
- Solipsism: Solipsism is the idea that one can only know that one’s self exists and that anything outside the mind, such as the external word, can not be known to exist. Solipsists place emphasis on a subjective reality, and that what we perceive to be true for one person may not be true for another. It was first theorized by Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Gorgias and expounded upon by philosophers such as Plato and Descartes.
- Determinism: Determinism is the philosophical theory that every event, including human cognition and behaviour, decision and action, is determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists generally believe in only one possible future, though deny that humans lack free will. Determinism can take many forms, from theological determinism, which suggests that one’s future be predetermined by a god or gods, to environmental determinism, which suggests that all human and cultural development be determined by environment, climate and geography.
- Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism is the ethical doctrine that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility. It is a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome – the ends justify the means.
- Epicureanism: Epicureanism is a philosophy based on the teachings Greek philosopher Epicurus, closely associated with hedonism. Epicurus was skeptical of superstition and divinity, and proposed that the sole meaning of existence was self-pleasure, or more accurately, the absence of pain and fear, the combination of which would lead to happiness in its highest form. For Epicurus, the highest pleasure was obtained by knowledge, friendship and virtue – as well as sex and food.
- Positivism: Positivism is a philosophy that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method. It is closely associated with empiricism and rationalism. It was first theorized by Auguste Comte in the mid 19th century, and developed into a modern philosophy favoured by scientists and technocrats.
- Absurdism: Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to humanity. Absurdism pertains that, although such meaning may exist, the pursuit of it is not essential. It is distinguished from nihilism by its subjective view of humanity, theology and meaning. It is best to think of it as the ‘agnostic’ stage between existentialism and nihilism.
- Objectivism: Objectivism holds that there is mind-independent reality; that individual persons are in contact with this reality through sensory perception; that human beings gain objective knowledge from perception by measurement and form valid concepts based on such perceptions. It claims that the meaning of life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or “rational self-interest,” and that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure, consensual laissez-faire capitalism, or libertarianism.
- Secular Humanism: Secular Humanism is an atheistic philosophy that upholds reason, ethics and justice as the principles of life. Secular Humanism rejects the concept of a supernatural creator, and says that the meaning of life is to be found purely in human terms. It upholds that there is no absolute truth or absolute morality, and that truth, meaning and morality are unique to each person.
- Nihilism: Nihilism is a philosophical (or anti-philosophical as some call it) view that life is without objective meaning, purpose, value or truth. They reject belief in a higher creator and claim that objective secular ethics are impossible. Nihilism is often associated with pessimism, depression and immorality. To them, life is literally “pointless.”
- Existentialism: Existentialism is the broad philosophical movement postulating that individual human beings create the meaning and essence of their lives as persons. Walter Kaufmann described Existentialism as, “The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life”. Human beings are to make their own choices in life and find their own meaning, with or without God. Existential philosophers range from the religious (Kierkegaard) to the anti-religious (Nietzsche).