The contradiction between the existence of inevitable constraints, imposed by divine authority, and human freedom, a contradiction solved by the Stoics by appealing to controlling desires, it is a problem that will stand in the philosophical debate of the future.
Nowadays we no longer have any mercy for the concept of free will; we know what it really is: the most wicked thing of all the theologians’s tricks, being meant to make mankind “liable” in their sense, that is, depending on them. Here I only provide the psychology of any action “to make liable”.
Wherever liability is sought, what is acting is usually the instinct of judgment and punishment. The doctrine of free will was invented for the purpose of punishment, because it was desirable to impose guilt.
All the old psychology, the psychology of will, was conditioned by the fact that its initiators, priests and the leaders of the old communities wanted to create the right of punishing or wanted to create this right for God.
People were considered “free” so they could be judged and punished, so they could become guilty. Consequently, each act should be considered intentional, and the origin of each act should be considered to be related to consciousness.
from Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
I separated myself from philosophy when it was impossible for me to discover at Kant any trace of human weakness or an authentic accent of sadness; at Kant and at all philosophers.
In contrast to music, mysticism, poetry, philosophical activity shows a thin sap and a suspected depth which tempt only shy beings and executioners.
Essentially, the philosophy, as impersonal anxiety and refuge around some anemic ideas, is the appeal of all those who avoid the corrupting exuberance of life.
Almost all philosophers died well; this is the ultimate argument against philosophy. Even the end of Socrates had notihing tragic in it: it was just a misunderstandig, being the end of a teacher. And if Nietzsche collapsed, he paid for his ecstasy of poet and visionary, and not for his reasoning.
We cannot ignore existence because of the explanations; we can only live it, love or hate it, adore it or fear because of it in that alternation of happiness and horror that expresses the rhythm of the being itself, oscillations, dissonances, its bitter or sweet vehemences.
Practicing philosophy is not profitable; it is just honorable. You don’t risk anything as a philosopher: philosophy is a job without destiny, it fills the neutral and free time with bulky thoughts… refractory time to the Old Testament, to Bach as well as to Shakespeare.
Have these thoughts of philosophy ever been at the level of Job’s exclamation of pain ? Can it compare to a fright in Macbeth or the height of a symphony ?
The universe is not discussed; it is expressed. And philosophy doesn’t express it. The real problems start after you’ve gone through or exhausted them, after the last chapter of a huge book in which the final dot is put as a sign of abdication in favor of the Unknown, Unknown in which all our moments are rooted and we must fight against it because it is more immediate, more important than our daily bread.
Here the philosopher leaves us: enemy of disaster, he is quiet and prudent as rationality. And we remain in the fellowship of an old plague, of a poet who knows all the deliriums, and a musician whose sublime goes beyond the sphere of the world.
We begin to really live only at the end of philosophy, on its ruins, when we understand its terrible futility and the fact that it’s a hopeless act to ask for its help, that it is useless.
Emil Cioran, Manual de descompunere
Existentialist atheism affirms that God doesn’t exist, but then there is at least one being whose existence precedes the essence, a being that existed before being defined by a concept, and that being is man…
What is meant here by the statement that existance precedes the essence ?
This mean that man first exist, is situated, is emerging in the world, and then he is defined. As he is conceived by existentialism, man is undefined because at first he is nothing. But then he will something, and he will be what he does himself. So there is no human nature, because there is no God to create it.
Dostoievsky wrote: “If God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted”. This is the starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permitted if God doesn’t exist, and consequently man is abandoned because he finds neither in himself, nor outside, any possibility that he can cling. He can no longer apologize.
If indeed existence precedes the essence, we will never be able to explain something reffering to a established or fixed nature; in other words, there is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom.
On the other hand, if God doesn’t exist then we don’t find any value or ordinance to legitimize our behavior. Today we have neither justification, nor excuses, in the bright field of values. We are alone, without excuses.
If we suppressed God, then one has to invent the values. The things must be interpreted as they are. In fact, to say that we invent the values doesn’t mean anything: life has no established meaning. Before you live, life is nothing; but you are those who give it meaning, and values is nothing but meaning you give to life…
from J. P. Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism
But who am I ? A thing that thinks. What’s this ? One who inquires himself, understands, says, denies, wants, doesn’t want, always imagines and feels.
Therefore, from the simple fact that I know about my existence, besides the fact I am a being who thinks, I rightly conclude that my essence lies in the fact that I am only a being who thinks.
And yet… I have a body that I’m very tied to… And on the one hand I have a distinct and clear idea that is mine as the being that thinks; and on the other hand I have a distinct idea of my body… and I’m sure I’m different from my body and I can exist without it…
But best nature teaches me that I have a body that feels pain and that’s unpleasant to it, that it needs food or drink when I suffer from hunger or thirst; so I don’t have to doubt that there is something real in this matter.
Nature shows us through our senses of pain, hunger, thirst, etc., that I’m not only present, in relation to my body, as the sailor is present on his ship, but I’m tightly tied up to the fusion of my body that I make a single thing with it.
Otherwise, when the body is hurt I – who are only a being that thinks – would not feel pain, but I perceive that pain only through my intellect as the sailor realizes by seeing that something cracked on the ship; and when my body needs food and drink I would understand clearly, and my senses wouldn’t be troubled by hunger and thirst.
from R. Descartes, Meditationes de prima philosophia