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Existence and Essence

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  • trop_de_simones
    Absence disembodies—so does Death Absence disembodies—so does Death Hiding individuals from the Earth Superposition helps, as well as love— Tenderness
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 7, 2005
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      Absence disembodies—so does Death

      Absence disembodies—so does Death
      Hiding individuals from the Earth
      Superposition helps, as well as love—
      Tenderness decreases as we prove—

      Emily Dickinson
    • jimstuart51
      All, Let me pull together what some of you have written about existence and essence. Louise (43848): Let s see, first of all you say we were discussing
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 4, 2008
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        All,

        Let me pull together what some of you have written about existence and
        essence.

        Louise (43848): Let's see, first of all you say we were discussing
        precisely Sartre, then you quote Mary's response to Joe which invokes
        existentialism in
        general. Am I missing something here, or is this not at least implying
        that Sartre is the only permitted authority regarding the
        interpretation of essence/existence? In regard to his own works, fair
        enough, but the original post referred to an existence/essence unity
        (without even mentioning Sartre) which, so far, sounds to me like an
        unexplained, unexamined article of faith. I should really like to
        understand its provenance. [end]

        Wil (43849): No, I think you're missing something here. Can you name
        another existentialist author who uses that dyad who is either not
        referring to Sartre, or who is using the dyad in some other novel way?
        And in any case, whenever such a dyad ("existence/essence") is used
        without any special proviso, wouldn't one understand those terms in
        their usual sense, especially in a philosophical list? Finally, can
        you show me another meaning to these terms that would be readily
        understandable?

        I don't think you would have an easy task with any of that. [end]

        Jim (now): Well, to take up your challenge, Wil, Heidegger writes on
        the first page of "Being and Time":

        "The essence of Dasein lies in its existence." (Macquarrie & Robinson
        trans, p. 67)

        Heidegger explains this statement in the following text:

        "Accordingly those characteristics which can be exhibited in this
        entity are not `properties' present-at-hand of some entity which
        `looks' so and so and is itself present-at-hand; they are in each case
        possible ways to be, and no more than that. …

        In each case Dasein is mine to be one way or another. Dasein has
        always made some sort of decision as to the way in which it is in each
        case mine [je meines]. That entity which in its Being has this very
        Being as an issue, comports itself towards its Being as its ownmost
        possibility. In each case Dasein is its possibility, and it `has' this
        possibility, but not just as a property [eigenschaftlich], as
        something present-at-hand would. And because Dasein is in each case
        essentially its own possibility, it can, in its very Being, `choose'
        itself and win itself; it can also lose itself and never win itself;
        or only `seem' to do so. But only in so far as it is essentially
        something which can be authentic – that is, something of its own – can
        it have lost itself and not yet won itself." (pp. 67-8)

        Heidegger's view as expressed here seems to coincide approximately
        with Sartre's view which he summarises in his slogan "existence
        precedes essence".

        So it looks like Heidegger had the original idea, and Sartre took it
        over without much modification, if any.

        Heidegger, in fact, takes the idea over from Kierkegaard who argues
        that the subjectively existing individual is continually in the
        process of becoming.

        In fact the idea that the human individual is pure existence, without
        an essence seems to be common ground to all the four most prominent
        existentialists – Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre.

        Wil is right that Sartre's slogan "existence precedes essence" is most
        well known, but as Mary originally stated in her post 43828 "the
        existence/essence unity" is one of the defining marks of
        existentialism in general.

        Jim
      • eupraxis@aol.com
        JIm, Thank you for reminding me (us) of Heidegger s influence on Sartre (possibly) in that regard. As you may know, when Sartre and Co. were imprisoned by the
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 4, 2008
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          JIm,

          Thank you for reminding me (us) of Heidegger's influence on Sartre
          (possibly) in that regard. As you may know, when Sartre and Co. were
          imprisoned by the Nazis, they were permitted only German texts, which
          suited many of them as just fine (or so the story has been told). Thus
          the post-War French theorists were utterly trained in thinkers like
          Heidegger.

          But, I may not have been understood. You are actually singing my song
          here. My point was that the dyad can only have been understood in
          precisely that way. The Heidegger quotes only underscore that point.

          Wil


          -----Original Message-----
          From: jimstuart51 <jjimstuart1@...>
          To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 11:49 am
          Subject: [existlist] Existence and Essence

























          All,



          Let me pull together what some of you have written about existence and

          essence.



          Louise (43848): Let's see, first of all you say we were discussing

          precisely Sartre, then you quote Mary's response to Joe which invokes

          existentialism in

          general. Am I missing something here, or is this not at least implying

          that Sartre is the only permitted authority regarding the

          interpretation of essence/existence? In regard to his own works, fair

          enough, but the original post referred to an existence/essence unity

          (without even mentioning Sartre) which, so far, sounds to me like an

          unexplained, unexamined article of faith. I should really like to

          understand its provenance. [end]



          Wil (43849): No, I think you're missing something here. Can you name

          another existentialist author who uses that dyad who is either not

          referring to Sartre, or who is using the dyad in some other novel way?

          And in any case, whenever such a dyad ("existence/essence") is used

          without any special proviso, wouldn't one understand those terms in

          their usual sense, especially in a philosophical list? Finally, can

          you show me another meaning to these terms that would be readily

          understandable?



          I don't think you would have an easy task with any of that. [end]



          Jim (now): Well, to take up your challenge, Wil, Heidegger writes on

          the first page of "Being and Time":



          "The essence of Dasein lies in its existence." (Macquarrie & Robinson

          trans, p. 67)



          Heidegger explains this statement in the following text:



          "Accordingly those characteristics which can be exhibited in this

          entity are not `properties' present-at-hand of some entity which

          `looks' so and so and is itself present-at-hand; they are in each case

          possible ways to be, and no more than that. …



          In each case Dasein is mine to be one way or another. Dasein has

          always made some sort of decision as to the way in which it is in each

          case mine [je meines]. That entity which in its Being has this very

          Being as an issue, comports itself towards its Being as its ownmost

          possibility. In each case Dasein is its possibility, and it `has' this

          possibility, but not just as a property [eigenschaftlich], as

          something present-at-hand would. And because Dasein is in each case

          essentially its own possibility, it can, in its very Being, `choose'

          itself and win itself; it can also lose itself and never win itself;

          or only `seem' to do so. But only in so far as it is essentially

          something which can be authentic – that is, something of its own – can

          it have lost itself and not yet won itself." (pp. 67-8)



          Heidegger's view as expressed here seems to coincide approximately

          with Sartre's view which he summarises in his slogan "existence

          precedes essence".



          So it looks like Heidegger had the original idea, and Sartre took it

          over without much modification, if any.



          Heidegger, in fact, takes the idea over from Kierkegaard who argues

          that the subjectively existing individual is continually in the

          process of becoming.



          In fact the idea that the human individual is pure existence, without

          an essence seems to be common ground to all the four most prominent

          existentialists – Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre.



          Wil is right that Sartre's slogan "existence precedes essence" is most

          well known, but as Mary originally stated in her post 43828 "the

          existence/essence unity" is one of the defining marks of

          existentialism in general.



          Jim
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