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do we have a fixed nature and/or are we a product of choices?

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  • two_owl_night
    Here is the Existentialism and Darwinism section of a 4-page/part article. Existentialist Aesthetics is also a topic near and dear to my heart.
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 3, 2006
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      Here is the "Existentialism and Darwinism" section of a 4-page/part
      article. "Existentialist Aesthetics" is also a topic near and dear to
      my heart.

      Existentialism and Darwinism by Austin Cline

      "Initially, at least, there wouldn't appear to be any particular
      connection between Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and
      existentialist philosophy — but first impressions can be deceiving.
      As a matter of fact, there are important connections between the two.
      This is not to say that there is any sort of causal relationship
      because existentialism didn't inspire evolution and evolutionary
      theory didn't help produce existentialism. The relationship between
      the two is more a matter of spheres of concern and interest.

      Evolutionary theory is, obviously enough, about life - and so is
      existentialism. Indeed, existentialists typically try to distinguish
      their work from that of other philosophers by emphasizing the fact
      that they are concerned first and foremost with how a person is to
      live in today's world. More than that, however, existentialism is
      about the struggle to live. This, you may already know, is also the
      central theme of Darwin's works.

      Of course, for Darwin the "struggle to live" was a biological issue
      dealing with how members of different species compete for resources
      and strive to reproduce. Existentialists, however, have found the
      similarity between this biological matter and their own philosophical
      work to be very interesting. To a degree, it has provided a certain
      level of scientific backing to their insistence that the focus on how
      people live is of the utmost importance.

      A further connection between Darwin's work and existentialism is the
      manner in which evolutionary theory contradicts certain traditional
      assumptions about the nature of life. In the past, people assumed
      that each species was created with a fixed nature. Each was assumed
      to behave in a fixed and immutable way because that was how God
      created them and how they had always been since the beginning of
      time.

      Darwin rejected this, arguing in his evolutionary theory that species
      actually change over time. In the struggle to survive, only those
      species which are best adapted to their environments survive while
      the others die. Through the ages, this forces species to change both
      their physical and behavioral characeristics in order to become
      better adapted. Thus, there is no "fixed nature" aside, perhaps, from
      the principle of change and survival.

      Obviously this is quite compatible with existentialist philosophy.
      Most existentialists have argued that we aren't born with a fixed
      human nature which forces us to act in certain ways and prevents us
      from acting in other ways. Instead, what we usually see as
      our "natures" is actually a product of our choices — sometimes even
      choices we don't realize we are making.

      Thus, Darwinian evolution provides some scientific credibility in
      more than one way to the existentialist position that humans make
      themselves and remake themselves during their struggle to survive in
      their day-to-day lives. Not all existentialists are
      necessarily "staunch Darwinians," however. Although it would be a
      rare existentialist who rejected the truth of evolutionary theory,
      there are those who don't regard it as having any real bearing on
      their philosophy."

      http://atheism.about.com/od/existentialism/a/philosophies.htm

      Mary
      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "dasein512" <gghumanistic@...>
      wrote:

      > So I am an existentialist!!! <
    • hermanbtriplegood
      Mister (Miss?) Dasein: In all probability, the most appropriate manner in which to try and fit me into your picture of what goes on here is to imagine a great
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 4, 2006
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        Mister (Miss?) Dasein:

        In all probability, the most appropriate manner in which to try and
        fit me into your picture of what goes on here is to imagine a great
        big elephant in the room that everybody in the room is doing their
        level best to try and ignore. I am the gadfly here, often
        persistently irritating, sometimes out of element, perhaps a freak of
        nature, a reason lover, a rationalist and moralist, in the midst of a
        bunch of existential anarchists. I keep saying, but being reasonable
        is existential too! Besides, since the very basis of existentialism
        is no-rules, I feel quite justified in inviting myself to be here in
        my capacity as a glaring instance of the breaking of the no-rules
        rule.

        Welcome aboard.

        Hb3g

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "dasein512" <gghumanistic@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > So I am an existentialist!!!
        >
        >
        > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "two_owl_night" <two_owl_night@>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > First, packaged and pre-cooked Existentialism is not what we
        offer
        > > here, so we're not obliged to respond. And secondly, you must be
        an
        > > existentialist for the Existentialist Code to apply, and you're
        not.
        > > And thirdly, the Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than
        > > absolutes. Welcome aboard the ghost ship, "No Exit", Mr.
        > > Gerald.[1]
        > >
        > > In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "dasein512" <gghumanistic@> wrote:
        > >
        > > <You are not sure if you believe in "existence precedes essence" I
        > > think that there is some biology/genetics that makes the person
        who he
        > > is, and I'm not saying height, weight, etc. That our
        personalities are
        > > shaped partly by biology. Am I still an existentialist? Thanks
        for
        > > the insight. Gerald>
        > >
        > > You bet your ducats! Some angst is alleviated by knowledge of
        > > biology, specifically genetics, but not all. We can compromise
        and
        > > say that our existence is a ship, designed according to
        blueprint,
        > > though not perfectly. It will be outfitted, though not for every
        > > possible contingency. The ship is launched and experiences the
        > > vicissitudes of storms, doldrums, and halcyon seas. So then,
        living
        > > out our lives in all these situations forms our essence, which as
        > > Trinidad points out can never be a whole. Sartre and Beauvoir
        were
        > > sailing the trades, so to speak. But they didn't comprehend
        > > shipbuilding or meteorology. Our own Captain William adeptly
        > > navigates for us under these sidereal realities.
        > >
        > > You see, it was not by accident that ships were once named for
        women,
        > > though it was bad luck to have them onboard. Even the best
        helmsman,
        > > for all his scientific knowledge, must bring the ship back to
        safe
        > > harbor from time to time. And like the fat lady sang, "You've
        gotta
        > > make your own kind of music, sing your own special song, make
        your
        > > own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along."
        > >
        > > Mary
        > >
        > > [1]"First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations
        nor
        > > our agreement, so I must do nothin'. And secondly, you must be a
        > > pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply, and you're not. And
        thirdly,
        > > the Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.
        > > Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner," says Barbossa" -
        > > Pirates of the Caribbean
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > --- >
        > >
        >
      • dasein512
        I am in the middle, I believe in the power of choices, I believe in the concept of bad faith , inauthentic vs authentic, but I also believe biology has a
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 4, 2006
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          I am in the middle, I believe in the power of choices, I believe in
          the concept of 'bad faith', inauthentic vs authentic, but I also
          believe biology has a powerful influence as well, not just in how tall
          I am, but in predispositions or temperment, but then existenialism
          comes in at this point and we have to choose. I believe that we do
          have some sort of essence, or more appropriately some basic energy
          behind us. I am more inclined towards religious or spiritual
          existentialism, but have some very secular/atheist beliefs as well. I
          have a hard time philosophically fitting in one neat box.

          Gerald
        • Bobconkawi@aol.com
          Gerald--Neither Camus nor Sartre felt they fit neatly into an existentialist box, eider. Camus was shocked when he met and talked to Sartre for the first time
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 4, 2006
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            Gerald--Neither Camus nor Sartre felt they fit neatly into an existentialist box, eider. Camus was shocked when he met and talked to Sartre for the first time at just how much they disagreed. Being an existentialist means thinking for yourself, so you are bound to think a little differently from other existentialists. --bob

            -----Original Message-----
            From: dasein512 <gghumanistic@...>
            To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 18:05:51 -0000
            Subject: [existlist] Re: Can you still be consider an Existentialist if....



            I am in the middle, I believe in the power of choices, I believe in
            the concept of 'bad faith', inauthentic vs authentic, but I also
            believe biology has a powerful influence as well, not just in how tall
            I am, but in predispositions or temperment, but then existenialism
            comes in at this point and we have to choose. I believe that we do
            have some sort of essence, or more appropriately some basic energy
            behind us. I am more inclined towards religious or spiritual
            existentialism, but have some very secular/atheist beliefs as well. I
            have a hard time philosophically fitting in one neat box.

            Gerald







            Please support the Existential Primer... dedicated to explaining nothing!

            Home Page: http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist
            Yahoo! Groups Links






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • dasein512
            Thank you for your kind comments. I know I come off a little naive....but I guess I am always looking for those more wise than I. I came to existentialism
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 4, 2006
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              Thank you for your kind comments. I know I come off a little
              naive....but I guess I am always looking for those more wise than I. I
              came to existentialism through readings of Fromm, May, Rogers, and
              then met Buber, Camus. I am still searching but find fertile ground in
              existentialism, where I am rooted firmly, along with humanism, etc.

              Gerald
            • louise
              Herman, I am not the least offended by your opinions. Don t worry about Bill - he just does gruff better than anyone else, and always to good purpose. If
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 5, 2006
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                Herman, I am not the least offended by your opinions. Don't worry
                about Bill - he just does gruff better than anyone else, and always
                to good purpose. If you look at what you wrote below, however,
                there's strong implication that many of us are clumped together in
                your mind, in that phrase, 'bunch of existential anarchists'. I am
                not an anarchist, nor have I ever met an individual who truly fitted
                that description. For many, claim to such an ethos might provide
                convenient mask, behind which to conduct hedonistic strategies, with
                varying degrees of conscious intent. Existlist does attract
                thinking individuals, fact which ensures that self-serving anarchism
                and heedless hedonism alike may be rigorously questioned here.
                Those who don't like the heat tend to leave the kitchen fairly
                promptly. If there is a big elephant in here, I haven't noticed
                yet. Your own rational powers seem far too substantive to bear the
                metaphor of gadfly, which famously Socrates took upon himself.
                Hadn't realised, before, that it's quite a Homeric image. In the
                Iliad, for instance, it is no disgrace for a warrior to be compared
                with an insect, any more than with a mountain lion or a wolf. Life
                persists, in great specificity. Poets notice this. Louise

                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "hermanbtriplegood" <hb3g@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Mister (Miss?) Dasein:
                >
                > In all probability, the most appropriate manner in which to try
                and
                > fit me into your picture of what goes on here is to imagine a
                great
                > big elephant in the room that everybody in the room is doing their
                > level best to try and ignore. I am the gadfly here, often
                > persistently irritating, sometimes out of element, perhaps a freak
                of
                > nature, a reason lover, a rationalist and moralist, in the midst
                of a
                > bunch of existential anarchists. I keep saying, but being
                reasonable
                > is existential too! Besides, since the very basis of
                existentialism
                > is no-rules, I feel quite justified in inviting myself to be here
                in
                > my capacity as a glaring instance of the breaking of the no-rules
                > rule.
                >
                > Welcome aboard.
                >
                > Hb3g
                >
                > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "dasein512" <gghumanistic@>
                > wrote:
                > >
                > > So I am an existentialist!!!
                > >
                > >
                > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "two_owl_night"
                <two_owl_night@>
                > > wrote:
                > > >
                > > > First, packaged and pre-cooked Existentialism is not what we
                > offer
                > > > here, so we're not obliged to respond. And secondly, you must
                be
                > an
                > > > existentialist for the Existentialist Code to apply, and
                you're
                > not.
                > > > And thirdly, the Code is more what you'd call "guidelines"
                than
                > > > absolutes. Welcome aboard the ghost ship, "No Exit", Mr.
                > > > Gerald.[1]
                > > >
                > > > In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "dasein512" <gghumanistic@>
                wrote:
                > > >
                > > > <You are not sure if you believe in "existence precedes
                essence" I
                > > > think that there is some biology/genetics that makes the
                person
                > who he
                > > > is, and I'm not saying height, weight, etc. That our
                > personalities are
                > > > shaped partly by biology. Am I still an existentialist? Thanks
                > for
                > > > the insight. Gerald>
                > > >
                > > > You bet your ducats! Some angst is alleviated by knowledge of
                > > > biology, specifically genetics, but not all. We can compromise
                > and
                > > > say that our existence is a ship, designed according to
                > blueprint,
                > > > though not perfectly. It will be outfitted, though not for
                every
                > > > possible contingency. The ship is launched and experiences the
                > > > vicissitudes of storms, doldrums, and halcyon seas. So then,
                > living
                > > > out our lives in all these situations forms our essence, which
                as
                > > > Trinidad points out can never be a whole. Sartre and Beauvoir
                > were
                > > > sailing the trades, so to speak. But they didn't comprehend
                > > > shipbuilding or meteorology. Our own Captain William adeptly
                > > > navigates for us under these sidereal realities.
                > > >
                > > > You see, it was not by accident that ships were once named for
                > women,
                > > > though it was bad luck to have them onboard. Even the best
                > helmsman,
                > > > for all his scientific knowledge, must bring the ship back to
                > safe
                > > > harbor from time to time. And like the fat lady sang, "You've
                > gotta
                > > > make your own kind of music, sing your own special song, make
                > your
                > > > own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along."
                > > >
                > > > Mary
                > > >
                > > > [1]"First, your return to shore was not part of our
                negotiations
                > nor
                > > > our agreement, so I must do nothin'. And secondly, you must be
                a
                > > > pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply, and you're not. And
                > thirdly,
                > > > the Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual
                rules.
                > > > Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner," says Barbossa" -
                > > > Pirates of the Caribbean
                > > >
                > > >
                > > >
                > > >
                > > >
                > > > --- >
                > > >
                > >
                >
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