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Post Info TOPIC: Who Am I (Or, A Postmodern Look At Existentialism)

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Who Am I (Or, A Postmodern Look At Existentialism)

It has been an especially long and tiring day at work that had been preceeded by an equally, if not more so, long and tiring day yesterday. Both days I worked twelve hour shifts in a restaurant that has been understaffed for the amount of business we have been getting. While these two days have been a boon to my wallet they have been a drain on my body.

Unfortunately days like these are not very intellectually stimulating since my brain moves into survival mode and all conversation seems to focus on the task at hand. As a result of this, when I get home all my body wants is sleep but my brain will not comply. My most recent cure for this common difficulty is a book on the legal history of church and state in America that I picked up off a clearance rack at Barnes and Nobles. As this option was not available to me (because it's in the bookbag I left at work... again), I decided to open up a new cure that I bought from clearance at CBD. I do have to say, my entire education over this past half decade has been the result of clearance purchases. Without them I would be an idiot, because of them I'm a cheap idiot.

OK, refocusing here (sorry, I'm ADD), this new cure is a book entitled: *Remembered Voices: Reclaiming the Legacy of Neo-Orthodoxy*. After wading through a very promising, or should I say unpromising, introduction, I found myself getting into a chapter on Karl Barth. This is where my whole plan for falling asleep went downhill. Barth, in the tradition of Kierkegaard, tended to challenge commonly held Christian presuppositions. The book was relaying Barth's challenge of our understanding of baptism, the Christian religion, and the Church. As it was doing so my mind decided to join this tradition.

The question now is where do I start? As my eyes continued to work their way down the page, my brain decided to shut off this, now extraneous, input and wrap itself around the timeless question, "Who Am I?" Even as I write this my mind is jumping down the various rabbit trails that ultimately prompted me to pick up this pen and paper and I find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Or perhaps, having received the exercise it lacked, my mind is shutting down and my origional goal has been achieved.

Anyways, part of my worldview is that everybody has a worldview that is unique to them and each person's worldview is based on a set of presuppositions held by that individual. So the question became, "What is (are) my presupposition(s)?"

At first I fell back on Descartes' famous maxim: "I think, therefore I am." But then my mind wandered into that bastion of theology commonly referred to as the movie "The Matrix". What if I were to go a step further [than the movie] and create an entire universe populated solely by programs that do not exist outside the computer? Now those programs do not exist outside that computer yet they still *think*, *act*, and *react* in the same manner we do. Do they really *think*? Do they exist? Do they exist as they think they do? How can I be sure that I am not a part of such a program myself? I don't *think* I am, but neither do any of the hypothetical programs I've just created.

At some point I realize that my eyes have walked their way through eight pages of a book my brain has been studiously ignoring and I back up to the last part I remembered reading and marked it for another day. At another point that stupid rat started scampering through the wall and I made (another) mental note (again) to buy mouse traps (one of these days). I have no idea what either of these two points have to do with my present monologue, but my incessant need for levity mandated that I interject them.

Anyways, another foundational concept I came across that I thought might work was mathematics... and built off math, the sciences. After all, 1+1=2. It always has and it always will... or so I believe. Now some would argue such semantics as 1 drop of water being addded to another still equals 1 drop. The fact is, that drop is in size still the sum of the two individual drops. The problem is that science and math can only study and quantify repeatable events. It's my old pendulum problem. No matter what Bacon said, mathematics is too limited in scope and application to be a foundation for my worldview.

My mind kicked around a few other ideas but all were rejected quickly on either the above or other more obvious arguments. It became clear that, for me, there was too much doubt to be able to be 100% sure about anything. I am absolutely positive that I have no absolutes. This musing gave rise to a question, "Am I now condemned to a life full of doubt and skepticism?" Here my mind went over the thoughts and lives of Neitsche and other nhilists. Everything within me revolted against my emulating such a worldview. From somewhere within me one word rose to the fore...


My very being grasped hold of this concept like a lifeline saving me from the oceans of despair. From this one word an understanding of my worldview, of who I am, began to form. It is a part of my belief that everyone must take something on faith because our limited minds and experiences prevent us from knowing anything with absolute certainity.

My mind wouldn't rest with this statement of faith (double meaning intended). Why would our universe, our human experience be this way? It just doesn't seem logical. It doesn't fit into the sterile world the logical part of my mind, that would ask such questions, craves. It does give rise to two answers: 1) The uncertainity helps make life an adventure. 2) Someone made it this way. The second answer logically necessitates the statement that I have come to accept as the foundation of my worldview. This is my core belief. Here is the answer to the question "Who Am I?" With this my mind can finally rest...

There is a God.

-- Edited by Beejai at 05:28, 2008-07-08


RE: Who Am I (A Postmodern Look At Existentialism)

Enjoyed the piece, though there is a logical falacy (excuse my english i'm puertorican) you came up with a conclusion that had nothing to do with the rest of the argument (though this wasn't an argument I felt the need to point it out) Overall enjoyed a piece of your mind. Question: (u lost me at the end) "The second answer logically necessitates the statement..." which is the statement "Someone made it this way" necessitates? or is that the statement from were you drew your conclusion? Like, if I'd keep looking back on who made it this way, we'll eventually find God behind all of it? which personally I need some stability, so I like having faith that God is behind all of it. someone did taught me to have faith in that, and I will till the day I die. Anyways, I'll keep reading the rest u posted on the board, maybe post a reply on the board with some feedback on all of them. Thanx for posting, beautiful analitical mind. not "little" Many Blessings...



Not really. The whole blog was on what do you base your certainity. On what the foundation of your worldview is. It all built to the last statement.



Wow, my thoughts aren't nearly as coherent as yours. Anywho, I try not to think about whether or not I really exist or not. It ends up going into determinism, or something else. Like whether we are basically just programs. But that always makes my head hurt, because would doubt and confusion be part of the program or glitches in the program. I personally think it can be both uncertain and that someone made it this way....essentially. I guess it can be certain and uncertain at the same time. Life is funny that way. I'm probably off topic. Anywho, since you're done with who am i? do you know what you're gonna do with the rest of your......existence?



I am an atheist. I am not, nor have I ever been, a nihilist.

You are frightened at the thought that you can never be 100% certain about anything?

I very rarely say this, but DEAL WITH IT.

It's reality for ****'s sake. You can't wish it away.

You can tell yourself that you know for sure that something is true, but that's delusion. As Mark Twain so aptly defined it, faith is believing something you know ain't true.

You know you can't have 100% certainty. You just explained why you can't.

Not deal with that. Come on.

What's so bad about having to settle for 99.99999999% certainty?

Can you really not handle the 1 in a trillion trillion chance that the sun will explode tomorrow? You've got to tell yourself you know it won't?

One in a trillion trillion is fine for me. I'll take those odds any day.

And as Henry Kissinger once said, "it has the added virtue of being true."

You can only be 99% sure about things - boo ****ing hoo.

Seriously, deal with it and move on. Don't sacrifice truth for the illusion of certainty. You know you can't have absolute certainty. You know it.

So don't pretend things are true you know aren't - that's going down a twisted and dangerous road.

Find a conception of morality and meaning and beauty you can believe without lying to yourself. It's really not that hard, and it's very rewarding.

And for ****'s sake lose faith already.

Seriously, it stings for like two days. You'll worry yourself silly, go to sleep and wake up the morning feeling a little worn out, but okay. Then as time goes by you'll be able to examine these issues with new light.

Oh and if you want help finding non-magical beauty and meaning in the world, I'd be glad to point you towards a few very nice philosophies and philosophers. But take it from someone who's been at it a long time - the beauty you will find in science, philosophy and non-theistic spiritualities makes the awe of theism seem like a total waste of time by comparison.

Reality is bracing, sometimes frightening, sometimes it will bring you to tears it's so beautful, and sometimes it will make you want to curl up and just die.

But it's real. And that's the whole point, isn't it?



To be an athiest without being a nhilist means either you have not fully thought through the logical consequences of athiesm or that you are willing to live within a logical contradiction. It is impossible to lose faith. Without being a nhilist, one cannot exist without putting their belief somewhere. It is all a matter of what you put it in. Ultimately I chose to put it in something bigger than myself. To not do so is to live a very small life.



Slippery slope bull****. It's really annoying being told life can't possibly be meaningful if you're an atheist by people who've never tried to find meaning outside of their religion. Us atheists have no real problem doing so.

And do you even know what nihilism IS?

And I believe in many things bigger than myself, among them truth, morality and beauty.

Not to mention eastern philosophies such as buddhism and taosm which are atheistic. Einstein described buddhism as such: "Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity."

Man, what a bleak, selfish worldview!

Offensive Kennedy


Not to get into a long personal discussion on the topic (I assume you'll message me if you want to get into that), but the way you describe some of your thought processes made me think of Robert Anton Wilson. If you haven't read any of his works, I highly reccommend that you do, particularly "Prometheus Rising." The book touches on some reality-tunnel topics that you bring up: issues of faith, math and historical viewpoints.

Also I am big on animal totems. Perhaps the rat is pertinent, acting as a totem (temporary or permanent, message- or lesson-oriented)? I only bring this up because you said yourself that you were so moved to mention it. Here's some info that I copied from one of my favorite totem sites: rats hold important teachings about waste, over consumption and survival for those who have this totem. Those with this totem are survivors. Their tendency is to hoard what they have because they fear that they don't have enough. This fear prompts them to acquire large quantities of things and fight aggressively to maintain what they have acquired. Fortunately rats adapt well to environmental changes and can survive on just about anything. They hold the teachings of resourcefulness. Read more HeRe if you so desire.

Blessed be on your quest.

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