Existence: What’s it all about?
Existence: How do you define existence? Do you cease to exist (if we really do exist) once you’re dead or is it independent of physical things?
Great existentialists have pondered these questions for many many years and unfortunately there’s no one particular answer to this question. One’s existence depends on how one perceives the world to be. I have held numerous conversations with people (recently my friend Jeremiah who unfortunately disagreed with everything I had to say), who felt like they didn’t exist simply because they weren’t at the level they wanted or needed to be, or life’s journey has taken them on a different course than they had plan; either way existence isn’t a word that should be taken lightly.
Socrates, one of the greats, believed that the value or quality of one’s life depends on understanding the principles of, or basic rationale for human existence; he believed that one’s life would lack virtue. So in order to fully grasp the term, one would need to understand what it means to exist. If I were to say, the Queen is hungry or the Queen is walking, it may be news to those not in the Queen’s presence, whereas ‘the Queen exists’ would be news to no one who knew her, and merely puzzling to anyone who did not. The reality of it all is, we as human beings know what it is like to be hungry or to walk, but what we’re unsure of is, what is it like to exist, how does the experience feels? Saying I am hungry or I am walking is an action that can be easily emulated by anyone who’s physical condition will allow them to feel those things but one’s existence isn’t something we can indicate to anyone.
Now, I assure that I will not quote all the great philosophers that I have read about but I must say that most of their opinions differ tremendously. Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Plato, and Socrates, they each offered a different outlook on that word and it’s very fascinating as you dig deep into the topic.
In “Origin of Negation”, my main man Sartre tried to posit the beginning of human existence from a new post-enlightenment perspective (God is Dead we could say). What he thought was that existence pervaded wherever nothingness was not perceived. The idea of existence might now be so easily definable though. We could take the idea on step further into nothingness, and try to decide if existence is really a negation of nothingness, or merely a facet of nothingness which perception moulds to exist at a certain time and place.
So do we exist even after we’re gone? I’d like to think that we do simply because I feel like all of the things we learned or passed on to other people, even after we’re gone, they remain on this earth. So physically you’re gone yet the lessons, the advices, the things that we did while on this planet will never leave and that to me is still part of one’s existence.
So how does one define existence? It’s all subjective my friends. But I hope by reading this, you can begin to dig deep within and come up with your own definition of ‘existence’ and possibly you can come to grips with what it means to exist.