One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Heidegger, Sartre and identity crises (Is it going to repeat?)
Western Philosophy were chiefly based on observations and were so absorbed by this method that almost missed to see that there is something also as “self” and for studying of that one doesn’t need observations but meditation. As observation requires something to be observed so nothing was missed in the process and yet even more importantly as observation requires something, other than the individual itself so the “self” was also missed.
Guess, when one turns to “self”? Of course one turns to self when self asserts its existence. When self’s voice becomes so loud then it becomes almost impossible to ignore it. And that is what happened in Europe by rise of Sciences. Science that begins with observations became dominant thinking mode and it deepened/strengthened the tradition of observation to only valid mode of thinking. In fact, Sciences in general were empowering men and there were senses of triumphant and zeal towards big successes. These great ambitions materialized in form of imperialistic behaviors and it turned European nations into competitors. The result was WWI and killings of 9 million people. The defeat of Germany in WWI was a shock to Germans and it caused an identity crisis (And you the rest of story).
I guess the German Philosophers (Existentialism was born in Germany and grown up in France) in general felt that Science is not Almighty and not always a good insurance policy for triumphs and they turned to self in a search of a perspective in a time of national despair. .”… Heidegger felt that Philosophers have missed the main point, what German people were feeling and expressing in language but was not able to be clear about it and he says it this way, “The German language speaks Being, while all the others merely speak of Being”… In other place he expresses the need for thinking about missing point, “The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”… The problem is that one can’t bind “self” strictly with time and space in measurable manner and that makes it very difficult to put it in a logical manner and perhaps it is why most of Philosophers were shying away from it. Realizing this Heidegger says, “Thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.”… OR, “When modern physics exerts itself to establish the world's formula, what occurs thereby is this: the being of entities has resolved itself into the method of the totally calculable.”… I think, one can see the uneasiness that he was feeling regarding existence of two distinct worlds, “Physical world” and “being” and no way to link them together in a coherent entity. Though Sciences have an advantage of simplicity and applicability but “being” is also very sticky thing and asserts its existence. Heidegger even one time questions, “Why are there beings at all, instead of Nothing”… By coming so close to Eastern Philosophy, Heidegger also misses the point as he can’t disconnect himself from Western trends so instead he turns to “time” and “language” (two external things; how naïve :( …) to find being and he writes his most famous book, “Time and being”… “Language is the house of the truth of Being.” He says but I guess he was realizing the mistake and it is why said, “Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.”…..
By rise of Nazis, there comes a hope for a comeback of German national pride so Heidegger joins Nazis. His hopes were so high for German Nazis under leadership of Adolf Hitler that he said, “The Fuhrer alone is the present and future German reality and its law. Learn to know ever more deeply: from now on every single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility.”…
While Germany national socialist reasserted Germany identity, it created crises for other European identities, especially French whose pride was down by German pride. Sartre a French Philosopher was the contemporary of Heidegger. The German occupation of France provided him with a new insight to look into “being” and that was “Freedom”. Instead of understanding “self” or “being” let it free. Freedom is expressed mainly by actions so he stresses on actions and of course actions require responsibility. All we see in Sartre is Freedom, Responsibility for action and Becoming as a result. So clearly he denies that there is something as “Being” in advance. “Being” is actually what we becomes. Of course, Existentialism is what he became to live freely because French collapse was convinced him that freedoms insured by societies can fall anytime to any power and he says it, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”… May be you say it is a common tragedy of mankind and has nothing to French occupation so let’s see what Sartre says more about freedom, “Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.”…
Why am I calling works of Heidegger and Sartre as products of identity crises?
The main reason is that their Philosophies are mostly reactionary to events of their time and also we don’t see anything serious about “being”. If one reads them it becomes clear that they tried to look to something that was overlooked but could not disconnect from Western roots and that was observation and as “being” was not observable (but rather something to be felt) they turned instead to external things, “Time and language” in case of Heidegger and “Freedom, responsibility and action” in case of Sartre.
German occupation made Sartre to become very sensitive about Freedom and he knew that only thing that can restrict freedom is fear, “You must be afraid, my son. That is how one becomes an honest citizen.”…. “Fear? If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear.”…. so for him, being simply means existence and of course existence could only be felt by life , “Life has no meaning the moment you loose the illusion of being eternal.”…” Life begins on the other side of despair.” And here you go, Sartre comes to nothing but very with different results than Ancient Indian Philosophers. If for ancient Indian Philosophers, nothing means peace and tranquility, for Sartre it means, meaninglessness and Despair.
Though Existentialism has lost appeal as people have forgotten the bitter days of two world wars and “long” break in any big scientific breakthroughs but I think, the world is moving towards another big identity crisis and this time, it is going to be global. There are two main causes besides other small ones for seemingly coming global identity crises, the failure of capitalism as global economy and failure of US to stay as a superpower. If capitalism survives the economic meltdown and US does not take it as a defeat or simply she maintains her position then the identity crises is not going global but will be national or at least regional. I don’t know what kind of Philosophy will emerge out it but my guess is, the time is ripening for emergence of a new one… Let’s see…