Thursday, March 06, 2008

Life in Ideas: "the greatest existentialist of our generation," 2000-2008

If there is an idea that has mattered to me, it is existentialism. But I do not know that I am still an existentialist.

A hostile universe? You bet. Hazard? Yep. Free Will? Absolutely. I'm still comfortable with much of existentialism. But...

I no longer call myself a "Christian Existentialist."
That's what I've called myself for years, never quite defining it in a satisfactory way. I now call myself a "Christian Humanist." I believe all human beings are imbued with dignity, that redemption is never beyond a person's reach, and that I must treat all human beings accordingly.

I no longer believe we create and/or choose our own morality.
I've never quite believed that "Everything is permitted," but I have believed that each individual may create or choose his or her own morality (which, when you think about it, isn't terribly far off "Everything is permitted"). But my commitment to vegetarianism and pacifism reveals a belief in a higher moral order. I am not a pacifist and vegetarian merely because that is the morality I "choose:" I am a pacifist and a vegetarian because at a deeper level, I believe that is morally right.

I no longer believe we are individuals isolated from other human beings.
I was once comfortable with the belief that humans were isolated from each other, alone with no connection. I now see meaningful connection between people.

I do not think life is absurd.
Here's the thing about Absurdist literature: it is so noticeably absurd. Real life has plot. Real life has meaningful human relationships. Real life has meaning. It is governed by chance, but there is meaning in that, not absurdity.

Is this enough? Am I an ex-existentialist, or is this merely a new part of my evolving existentialism?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:45 PM

    You probably never were really deep down an existentialist. Like the protagonist of "Good Country People" your heart knew what it knew more than your head knew what it thought it knew.