[Insert Title Here]

Existentialism is a funny thing. Based upon a rejection of modernist philosophy, its adherents, unknowing and knowing, sought a new way of life that empowered and promoted the position of the individual above that of the populace, the government, and religious institutions. These men and women saw a system that sought to squash individual rights and spirits and fought valiantly against it.

Today, however, I feel like this same elevation of the individual has become cheap and cliche. “Self-help” is an entire section of every book store. Everyone seems to love saying “believe in yourself,” including the institutions that attempt to destroy that same individuality. Effectively, we’ve taken some very good works and turned them into cheap,  feel-good programs designed to make you feel better about yourself without actually changing much about you.  In reality, you’ve buried reality so deep you’re out of touch with it.  You’ve done exactly what existentialism DIDN’T want you to do.

You see, it occurred to a few men and women that reality was not progressing to a greater society, that life wasn’t always as rational as those who came before them wanted to think.  In fact, to them, life was absolutely absurd, and rationality and reason had failed to give purpose to reality.  This reality was a great weight upon them, crushing their very souls, requiring a rejection of what many thought was true and a substitution of new truth, all of this through the efforts of the individual.    They became suspicious of any blind faith to reason and rationality, and encouraged others to take leaps of faith and become ubermensches and be greater than what their beliefs had allowed them to be!  What did we do in return?

“5 Steps to a Better You.”

I’m not sure what I’m trying to get at here; I’m just really sick of everyone trying to be an individual, or at least think they’re trying to be. These days, being an individual means being ahead of trends in fashion, music and movies (and being a snob about it). It’s even worse that everyone wants everyone else to notice how much of an individual they are (blogging possibly being the worst sin in this area).  To me, being an individual is not what you wear, what you listen to, what you watch, but purely that you are.

I recently had a huge realization (rather, an affirmation, perhaps) that God, in that He is being itself, existence itself, is the sole cause of existence (what Aristotle called “The First Cause”), and that alone is enough to imbed within all Creation a purpose, a goodness that few ever see or realize.  That goodness is indeed broken by the Fall, but our ontological purpose remains, and our return to it is immanent, directed by the same First Cause working as the Unmoved Mover, bringing all things back to His original plan and divine purpose. Ever greater, therefore, is that this First Cause, this Unmoved Mover, actually gives a rip about what He caused, about what He’s moving!

The fact that you are, as the result of this Cause, is enough purpose in and of itself. It is even greater, this purpose, that the same Cause is still moving you, still pushing, still beckoning.  It is in following that beckoning, that calling, that we become individuals, and our worth is found.

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4 thoughts on “[Insert Title Here]

  1. Well, there’s a great deal of truth to what you say, and it edifies. Individualism is rampant and so few learn what it means to move and breath and have our being in Him (I’m still trying). I think it is fair to point out that this is all not the result of the extentialist rejection of modernism. Modernism, from the get-go….with Desecartes’ cogito, was individualistic through and through until at least Hegel’s time (and then beyond). Even Hegel’s system smacks of the individualism you decry. Modernity begins when the assurance of one thing….the existence of the individual self (Descartes himself, in particular). The Western tradition has been highly individualistic since then, as you point out. Some good work has been done with notions of “the Other” and “commmunity” by some of our post-structuralist friends, but this has not cured the ailment you correctly diagnose. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll begin my day with a deep breath as I have my being in Him (by Grace). Peace be with you as you journey, friend. I might have an issue of some of what you imply about Kierkegaard. He’s not the individualist he pretends to be, but tht’s another issue. His leap of faith stuff is talked about in Fear and Trembling, written by the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio, and Silentio is not quite a believer. Faith looks like a leap to him, but it ends up being more like a dance. Even so, Kierkegaard makes clear that his pseudonyms don’t represent his own thinking. I did a long blog on that last night, tho, and am way tired. Sorry for all the typos, really. I’m so tired i can’t even see them:) Again, Peace be with you. Thanks for your thoughts and candor. Well done. If you care to have a look, I have two posts about Kierkegaard the “Cinderella man” that both deal with his use of signed and pseudonymous works. I may be reading him wrong…but if so, I’ve been doing it for 30 years now:) lol Oh, and if you might, grant me pardon on two counts 1) I’m guilty of being an individualistic blogger (you nailed it) 2) I shouldn’t blog when I’m this tired. I’ll probably read my own post later with shame for all typos and poor diction.:) See, there’s that ego creepin up again…*sigh* I’ll peek in our your good work again once I’ve slept:) Peace.

  2. Oh, one more thing. My feigned impiety in many of my posts is feigned. Errare means to err, wander, deviate from the common path, and I try to do all that as I write. There’s something Socratic about it, but you sure can’t tell by my strange avatar:) hehe

    • Lol, thanks for clarifying. I literally just got up, read all that, and was like, “What the hell?” Ha ha, thanks for the comment. Just so you know, my next post, which will drop in about 15 minutes (I schedule mine) wrestles with much of the same questions you just answered, so if I sound like a broken record, I apologize. Thank you VERY much for the insight!

      • Actually you sound very good. I’m grateful to have read your post. Hope it didn’t seem like a critique:) Again, I’m way tired:) lol

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