Category Archives: essays

Destroying Tomorrow

“Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today” – Ayn Rand.

First off, let me say that I’m glad to be back with bae (Rand). I constantly return to the words written by the philosophizing, Russian born, American bred author, Ayn Rand; I believe her moral views on the world to be similar to my own. But this quote struck me as I was reading the introduction to her work, “The Romantic Manifesto”, and I find myself pondering a recurring question…what is the future? Does it even exist? In my honest opinion, I want to destroy the future, because it is a fortified construct that men place their dreams, aspirations, and desires within, just to let them die. We all imagine the future as a vast horizon that resembles the sky at the end of the day, vibrant with warm shades of the unknown, but that is not what it really is. The future is a bleak prison cell, lined with bars constructed by cast iron and diamond, it is unbreakable. I do not like the future for it is man’s greatest excuse for inaction.

How many times must we hear, “I’ll handle that later,” “We can wait until tomorrow”, “Why not wait until there’s more time,”? All these confessions are empty, devoid of any honest truth, just the hollow ramblings of spineless individuals. If you encourage future action, then be adamant about it and set it in your brain that you will see it through, it not then you add to the list. The future is not real, and if it is, it does not abide within tomorrow. It is here, sharing this exact moment with us, for the future is a direct, and possibly the only, substantial result of the present. The future exists due to the present, and if one happens to reserve decisions until tomorrow, then they are not waiting for the future. They are only prolonging the inevitable choice, to act or not to act. If man does not act then how does he project his will, his being, into the world? He doesn’t. Instead, he pushes his self into a limbo, straddling the same fence that his desires are caged within. By putting so much emphasis on tomorrow we have systematically killed the now, and the now is one of our sacred treasures. God has bestowed us with the moment, a single, desolate fraction of infinite time, and we have taken it for granted. Because the moments given have been weaved together like a patched quilt, we automatically assume there will be another moment. And another, for when we look behind us, we see a string of moment, a red yarn that has stretched across the temporal dimension from birth to this instant; yet are we confident enough that another will always be coming? When we are young and naïve to time, we acted in the now, for it was all we knew. After enough actions, we became lazy, less confident, and sluggish, simply because we relied on the approaching day; but once that day comes, there will always be another to take its place, leaving us with another missed chance to act. If we miss too many chances to act then what will that do to us? Maybe our mindset will alter, or maybe we will turn our backs to choice and continue living without a why. I do not know for certain what would happen to an individual, and I am afraid to find out that answer, simply because that requires inaction today, and indecision is the enemy of the virtuous. If we have values, beliefs, opinions, etc. then we should showcase them at any given moment, why wait until another instance (as if we are even graced with a second)? Tomorrow is one of the most dangerous words a man can utter to both himself, and the world. Unless he can say it will full confidence, then do not believe in his tomorrow, for it is an illusion. He does not believe in his own tomorrow, but he will grant you the opportunity to do so for this gives him another opportunity to not act, and if he is afraid to act then he could very well be afraid of himself. Would you want to be known by someone like that? Could you see yourself in his shoes? I fear that we are all this person, at some point in our lives, but we must steel ourselves and destroy tomorrow for it will leave us incomplete today.

 

~JLC, III

Existential Expression

Text: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

“Prior to that projection of self, nothing exists…and man shall attain existence only when he is what he projects himself to be-not what he would like to be” (Sartre, 23).

  • The main and only difference between existing and not is being who you project yourself to be. A book cannot be a book if it is just pages, nor can a heart be that if it is incapable of beating like one. Existence depends on action but the action must be to be. If one is powerless to be, then how can they know they truly exist?

“Will is a conscious decision that most of us undertake after we have made ourselves hat we are” (Sartre, 23).

  • In order for ust to have a will, we must first be. That means there is some significance behind being, and will is a direct result of it. One that is able to be are also able to will; if they cannot will then, they are not yet a mature being. Maybe there is a distinction between those who will and those who have yet to discover their will; but ultimately, if one is unable to utilize will then their existence is limited, for they have yet to make a conscious decision based on their being. Incomplete wills are just wishes.
  • Going back to “what’s”, if man’s obligation to himself is to be conscious of what he is” then that means he must be ready to ask why he must do so. He must understand the logic behind him choosing to become conscious of himself, he must acknowledge that lack of knowledge pertaining to an action does not create a skill, it only creates a reflex.

“Choosing himself he is choosing for all men”

  • When we choose to define ourselves we inevitably begin to create our own nature, this nature is our understanding of all men. For example, if I choose to be a man of justice, then I expect all men to share my ideals of justice, for my viewpoint of men is based on my definite self. If may be there reason that I believe that everybody is capable of doing something, meaning that I match up with my nature if I expect it to be applied to others (even if this is false, which it often proves to be). The main principle to take away from this is that I believe that my being has a relationship to all men, and more importantly that being is mine. In the end, I choose for all men, because I choose for myself.

Vocabulary:

  • Anguish – a man who commits himself, but then realizes that he is not the individual that he chooses to be. “What would happen if everyone did what I am doing? (Sartre, 25)”. You must ask yourself if your actions could represent the entire human race.
  •  Abandonment- God does not exist, this was a debated topic among the existentialist. Without the existence of God, then some aspect regarding existence will left to be forever unsolved, this ruling this notion improbable. The tools for consciousness and thought were not arbitrarily created, rather they were purposefully given to humans to utilize; so then who is capable of giving us such a gift, but God?

Leviathan Logic

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Sense is the original teacher of man. How else were we able to obtain teaching from nature except without our eyes, ears, etc..  In reality senses are responses of our organs to “motions of external things” (Hobbes 49). What does this mean to man? To understand-which is man’s desire-he must have certain objects “move” against his senses. That motion from an external object has the same power to illicit an internal response from the man.

What is imagination? It is the projection of an image that was once in motion, but now has stopped. Motion can only be stopped when there is a force to oppose it (Newton’s law supports this); imagination is the mind trying to recreate that motion that may have been stopped in the external world. It is known as the “decay of sense” (Hobbes 50). Senses are the body’s way of deducing the nature of external objects, and imagination is a fragmented version of this understanding.  Imagination is “weaker” than true sensibility, but where it excels is that it has been polymerized with our memories and ideas; becoming a new creation altogether. Compare it to the sun’s light versus the stars, the sun’s light is the senses and it is able to illuminate virtually everywhere. The stars have only limited light, but they provide us with more in the darkness. When we wake our senses rule-for our body is relying on physical receptors- but upon dreaming they are decayed and we are met with the projection of an external object within our internal realm. The imagination is stemmed from our senses, does that mean the more I sense, the greater my imagination? I must allow my senses to carry me far, for the more they are used, the better my imagination will become, if this hastily stated hypothesis were proven to be true. Imagination and memory are both considered decaying, but what separates the two from each other? I do not known, but memory is more specific to the individual and the experience surrounding a sense, whereas imagination is just general sensation. By utilizing specific senses, we can remember a moment; but when we combine the varying aspects of multiple senses, we can create a moment.

Ayn’s Axiom

Text: Journals of Ayn Rand by Ayn Rand, Edited by David Harriman

“The moral law of man must be based on his nature as man” (Rand 251). We come back to morality, which is a set of principles concerning what is right and wrong. If this doctrine is based on man, then the questioned presented by Rand is “what is man’s nature?” (251). If we examine the moral law, we find that good and evil are disproportionate, goodness is greatly overshadowed by evil. What does this say about our nature? That we are evil? This is doubtful. All living creatures have an aspect of their nature that aids them in survival, Rand believes that man’s attribute is reason. “His brain is his only weapon” (251). Just like any other tool, one must use it in order to improve its level of proficiency. Man has tapped into his tool of survival and created a world. Sartre believed that a man must exist before his purpose and Rand has stated something similar; we are given our mind, but without any instruction on how to utilize it. We must be the ones to discover how to use it, and then shape ourselves with this tool. This is how we discover our being, by crafting it with what we have been given a mind born as a tool from our nature. “Man’s life ultimately depends upon every conclusion within his brain” (252). It is stated that conclusion is the final step in the process of discovery, then how does one reach a true conclusion? I believe it is by placing an action towards the thought. Simply put, it is not enough for the brain to think, it must do. In order to do, we must choose an appropriate action, which leads us to, as Rand says, “the ultimatum of man’s existence” We were created to choose, to utilize a force other than instinct and primal logic in order to survive. Choice is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to decided that a particular person or thing is the one you want.” Want. What then is the importance of want? We want, that is what defines us, all other creatures have needs but only man understands want. There is proof in all of us: we seek, we hope, we dream, we wish. All of these have one fundamental quality in common and that is want. It is what drives us to do the things that are against our universal nature, in an effort to choose something, even if it is against his survival. “He [the animal] enjoys a safety that man can never have” (253). Our true nature isn’t based on survival, it is based on want; and oftentimes that want will overshadow our survival. Just as the birds learn to flap their fragile wings before flight, so to must man utilize his tool for survival before entering the world. Then how does one test his brain? By choosing the need over the want, by focusing on survival and rationality, but can this truly be obtained? Is man capable of always choosing survival? No, because the want that resides within him is too great. The want is what separates us from each other, and by watching others “deducing” we have learned to choose wants over needs. What this entails is that if men, unanimously, choose want then that is the fundamental principle of mankind. From a moral standpoint, want is neither good nor evil. Exactly what happens when man does not behave like a man and misuses his process of thought, his tool, to seek something other than survival? “There is no proper name for that thing which he becomes (253)”. In the end we are not men, but a new form altogether with a nature that was dismantled and reshaped with want at the core.

Before I continue I am inclined to explore this concept of want. By determining it’s origin we have found some understanding of it, but why is it such a dominant force in our lives? What is inside us that would force individuals to pursue an object that is within direct conflict with our nature. It is a blessing, for it provides us with something more than a survival; but alternatively doubles as a curse and removes and hope of safety from our minds. For this I will examine two types of individuals, the laborer and the liberal (in the sense of the man free from work). The laborer is exactly what a man is supposed to be, a creature who acts and chooses that will enhance his survival. He chooses to awake and enter the greasy factor, or the claustrophobic cubicle and he does so without question. The reason he does not ponder his decisions (or even acknowledge the possibility of choice) is because it benefits his chances of extending his brief stint of life. He is acting in accordance with his given nature. But the liberal has erased any notion or idea of survival, no longer fitting his form. Instead, he does whatever he desires with or without question, by utilizing the three steps of discovery (deduction, observation, conclusion) in order to choose; but more often than not, he chooses his want over need. This is a “dangerous” choice because it puts “survival” at risk, but this also yields a new alternative to solely existing. The liberal who pursues this adjunct to life discards his title-and his pre-determined nature-as a man in an attempt to become a new being. This being is then “nature-less” which ultimately means that he he is now capable of authentically defining himself, in other words, becoming an existentialist.

An existentialist is a being who has cast away the definitive, and original, nature of man in order to chase desire. It is this new adventure that will give one an opportunity to define his self. “Man is the only being that is capable of being something that it is not.” (253) Does our “responsibility to remain” men help or hinder us, especially in this digital age? The choice is yours may be the most damning statement I have ever heard. If man’s nature is capable of transforming, then we cannot expect a moral code to exist, because it is based on a transformative foundation. If the tides of life continue to wreck the sandcastle, how can we expect to have any fundamental foundations? Morality is based on an individuals own desire and choice. Think of how quick we are to condemn an act evil, contingent upon the scenario. The classic example is murder. It is immoral for a man to take a life, yet it is justified for a man to take a life; then it is either both good and evil, or neither, to take a life. How can we expect morality to truly exist for man, when he is constantly revamping his original nature into his own authentic definition, and one that isn’t shared amongst his neighbors. The modern man is moral-less, he is constantly defining his nature, constantly choosing options other than survival. Drinking liquor, smoking tobacco, practicing monogamy, all of these are “irrational” options and yet each day, millions of humans will choose to follow them. Does that make them less of a man? Negative, it makes them their own man for they are out actively seeking their wants. The world we live in has forced men to do something more than simply survive. We no longer exist to survive instead we are here to choose, and more importantly, choose our desires, our intentions, our wants. If this is to be our existence then we are no longer the same men as before, even though we’ve retained the same look.

The moral code cannot be shared, yet there is a universal ideal that can be applied to each of us. “Am I right? (254) is the “first, most crucial question a man asks of himself.” Why do we seek to be right? We don’t, we only want to choose what’s right. If one has done that then they have fallen within their personal moral code, and they have done good. If this is the case then can a man truly consider himself evil? Possibly, but he is only evil if he cannot answer the question. Society may view him as evil-based on that universal morality that has been generated by the collective-but the individual will not consider themselves to be evil, so long as they believe they made “the right choice.”. That is the true danger of a nature-less nature; “the right choice” may in fact be pure evil, but he may not consider it that because it was his want. It is vital that we utilize logic and weigh out the consequences of each choice before taking them, it is this rationality that ultimately aids in strategizing to survive the modern world. A man is able to define his nature, thereby defining his morality. This principle is the sharpening stone for the brain, if one is able to make moral choices, then they are good. However, are moral choices morally correct? Social media has given way to a brand new nature, a collective an individual nature that spans the globe. The platform has increased the desire for want, and has significantly aided in the discovery process. We are now able to observe others discard their nature, and don an entirely new one (the creation of an avatar/profile/esse) ; witnessing this process surely must have an effect on us, but to what extent? Did it increase our desire or did it affect our choices, or must we have patience giving the results time to be analyzed? This demands further reviewing. Our world may very well be becoming what it is because so few of us are acting as original men, and instead pursing the wants of our lives, regardless of the moral compass that was originally thought to drive us. “Man exists and must survive as men, the axiom of the only morality proper to man” (254).

The Humanism Hour

Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

“How can we measure the strength of a feeling?” (Sartre, 33). We begin with a comparison of the values of man versus his instincts, specifically feelings. What are feelings and should man trust them? According to Webster’s, feelings are “an emotional state or reaction” and “a belief, especially vague or irrational”. Based on this definition, we can conclude that feelings are not natural aspects of man; somewhere along the social evolutionary timeline, feelings were given a greater role in our lives, but should they have been? They are also described as reactions and states-both which are varying-yet not described as laws or principles. Feelings do not contain the permanence required to assist man, then what exactly does a feeling do for us? It lays down the blueprint for us to perform an action that has stemmed from a thought. Sips chilled henny Now the dilemma that Sartre warns us of is the cyclic nature. “Performing an action that confirms and defines it [feeling]. However…I am depending on this affection to justify my action.” (Sarte x). We often act on feelings, but we also act because of them. These mental constructs, lined with immature passion, both govern and destroy our basic existences; they are a tangent to the fated life. Yet, it is the inclusion of feelings that ultimately aid the modern man in the discovery of self. Want is nothing but a feeling, and even though the desire may change the origin of that feeling is still the same. And want is a way for us to utilize our brains to form conclusions based on our experiences. “Feelings are developed through action” (Sartre x). Imagine when a young boy meets a woman for the first time. By performing a series of actions, his soul forms a preemptive conclusion about this woman (love). Now, after enough actions have been completed, he will be compelled to perform more actions. Over time he may believe that it was this feeling that begun his actions, but in reality, it was the the initial acts of recognition, pursuit, or whatever else that spawned this motion. “I shouldn’t seek within myself some authentic state that will compel me to act,” Sartre is justifying his earlier claims regarding feelings. Acting upon a feeling will only end in us becoming caught in a cycle, we must act then deal with the consequential feeling that follows after, and how we internalize this type of feeling, will determine the type of being we are. This personal understanding of a feeling is what leads a man through his life, and we alone, are charged with the dismantling of this process. However we choose to interpret a feeling, will ultimately aid us in the dissection of the next feeling. It is how we deal with life’s obstacles that determine our existence. In short, it is imperative that a man tackles his feelings, and turns them into truths before they overload his mental.

“Conquer yourself rather than the world.” – Rene Descartes

Mourning with Marcus

Text: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

“we are what we think and desire (Aurelius 10)”

  • Freedom begins in our thinking not doing. How can a man act freely if, within his mind, he is a captive? Actions that are undertaken are merely projections from a consciousness, so the action serves as a physical representation of what is within the mind. In order for us to seek and use freedom, we must believe that we are free. By granting us a hint of political freedom (freedom used loosely), we accept that we are not bound; but in truth we cannot allow the unwanted external factors deter us. In order to be truly free, one must constantly be vigilant within their own mind.

“Stoic: Indifferent to pleasure and pain, unafraid of death, resigned to fate, welcomes adversary as an ally (Aurelius 11)”

“None of them can harm me, for none can force me to do wrong against my will” 2:1

  •  It is willpower that reigns supreme within our lives. With a wavering will, we can be damaged; but one that is stalwart can not be broken. Will is a direct result of being, so if it is damaged, then so is the being. That is why it is dangerous for one to go against their will.

“Now it is change that sustains the universe” 2:3

  • Once again, change is the only truth on Earth. When it comes to man’s nature, he creates his own when he decides to change. If a man does not change, then how can he be?

“Use them [your days] to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun” 2:4

  • God gave us time, time he didn’t have to lend. But he did, why would we waste it by doing things that go against us? We will wake up on our death bed one day, and realize that our soul was never given the time it deserved. What a horrible fate.

“This is possible, if you perform each act as if it were your last” 2:5

  • When you do something, do not be afraid to give it your all. Your energy can be replaced, the opportunity to commit an act to an idea may not, so do not falter.

“You have made your happiness subject to others opinions” 2:6

  • This goes back to true freedom, if we allow ourselves to be swayed by individuals, then what are we? We are not us, nor are we happy, for our being has become contingent upon others (the collective), and not of our own.

“Take time to concentrate your mind…In order to combat anxiety one must focus on something beneficial.” 2:7

  • Allowing our brains to run free will only make it weary, and it will always evade our control. It begins with focus, learn your own mind and you will not be anxious.

“No one can ever prevent me from saying and doing what is in complete conformity with the whole of which I am.” 2:8

  • Be true to your nature. Outside influences cannot dictate who you are, only you and your decision have that power. It is vital to understand our nature, in order to know its limitations.

“How swiftly everything disappears” 2:12

  • In the end, what we do may or may not matter in one thousand years, but it will today, and tomorrow, and so on. These are the times we must consider, not the intangible and unwritten future, it begins today!

“A man can lose on the life is he is living/can only be deprived of the present moment.” 2:14

  • One life to live, and in this life, the only amount of time we truly own is the present. The past is time rented and thus returned, and the future is an insurance policy that we may never obtain. If that is the case, then why should man put his faith in yesterday or tomorrow?

“Complaining against nature is a revolt against nature” 2:16

  • We must do well not do ruin our souls by doing things against our will. Our existence depends upon it. Complaining will only yield more trouble than triumph.

“What then can guide us through life? Philosophy.” 2:17

  • Philosophy in the sense of thought and exploration of knowledge. Only this will grant our minds a purpose; God has bestowed us with the mind, a gift for us to use.

What Is Existentialism?

Text: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre.

We start out in Sartre’s work (Existentialism is a Humanism), by defining what existentialism is not. During his era, it was a “fashionable trend” to call oneself or be classified as an existentialist. It seemed that artistic individuals were mainly subjected to this title, possibly because art has direct ties to philosophy. Art may be the physical form of the thought of man, however, existentialism seems to exist (ha!) in a realm reserved only for “specialist and philosophers”. It takes more than deep thought or profound conversation to be considered an existentialist. There is a common agreement between all existentialist that “existence precedes essence,” and according to Sartre, this is the first principle of the definition of existentialism. He utilizes the idea of the paper knife, a tool created a certain way and has a definite purpose. The craftsman does not create the knife without a formula or purpose, but man is not solely a tool. In order for one to be an existentialist, he must believe that he existed without definite knowledge of his purpose. Although man may be created, he is crafted from “nothing”, a concept rooted in Heidegger’s phenomenology. We cannot understand the nature of nothing, but we can assume that it is being devoid of anything. After being born from nothingness, without a universal nature-also known as human nature-man can begin to define himself. It is similar to the zygote and embryo, cells are unspecified at first, and only after time will they be differentiated and defined. To be an existentialist, you must believe that our being is a stem cell, that must be exposed and defined, rather than given a set definition.