A plague of inauthenticity, hedonism, condemnation of life disguised as moralities and religions, and a lack of spontaneity haunts the spirit of the times. We currently face a crippling sense of emptiness which will not be helped by our current value systems. The ages preceding ours has had its great wars, its fight for rights, and its great depressions, but what now? We now seem to be left with filler. The great wars replaced with a spiritual war, and the great depression replaced with our daily lives.
Most humans have certain existential conflicts within their mind which are not resolved, but are often just pushed to the back of their head and compensated for with some inauthentic form of meaning – social validation, validation from an all powerful being (god), consumerism, hedonism, etc. – each ultimately failing due to the simple fact that meaning does not exist out there; it can only be salvaged from within . “Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves” – Carl Jung. The inverse of this quote can be found in The Bible, John 14:6: “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. Lets analyze some existential problems that face humanity
- Meaninglessness – Life has no inherent meaning. This claim is almost always met with some surprised, confused, unhappy faces. This is not a pessimistic claim, it just is what it is, and can be seen as something liberating. What this means is that there is no universal objective meaning to life; We may have INTERNAL feelings of meaning, which is a completely separate thing, but besides that, the universe is a chaotic process of becoming, simply doing what it is doing without any transcendentally ordained value. So nothing that exists – humans, countries, planets, the universe as a whole – has inherent value, though it may have internal value for you. We’re just existing to exist. The important thing about this, is that the absence of meaning leaves us to be free and critically transvaluate ALL values, all moralities, and all authorities. The consequence of meaninglessness is that there is NO moral truths and so nobody can tell you what you ought to do (though, of course, there are still things that will benefit you). To live meaningfully, one must embrace the chaotic meaninglessness of existence and use it to conduce a paradigm shift in values and identity. In confronting meaninglessness, one must a) make sure that they are deriving their internal sense of meaning from themselves and not from some inauthentic external source and b) take time to introspect upon your identity and values and analyze which ones are merely inherited arbitrary values that do not benefit you. Any knee jerk retort that claims that this is pessimistic is merely the result of somebody who cannot accept their freedom. You can tell where somebody is in their life based on their reaction to this. Any reaction in the form of “If everything is meaningless, than why don’t we all just blow up society and end it all?” shows a deep level of depravity. If you have an internal sense of fulfillment, what does it matter if existence is inherently meaningless?
- Death – This one speaks for itself. We likely will die. We will likely stop existing in the sense that we currently do, meaning our identity will crumble and / or we may just stop experiencing altogether. A bit of death anxiety can be good motivation for acting authentically, but an unresolved fear of death is not a good thing.
- Isolation – Rather than this being the general loneliness of not having significant people in your life, existential loneliness is the fact that we are all born alone, and we all die alone. Sure, there are people who we have relations with, but we still all have separate wills which are bound to conflict with each other, and ultimately nobody can completely understand us since they don’t have the same concepts and experiences. Language does not communicate ideas, feelings, or experiences themselves, but rather it communicates symbols which we then reconstruct with our OWN meanings, so we do not ever understand each other. This may cause feelings of dissonance and alienation. When this issue is unresolved, it frequently causes people to desperately seek social validation.
There are certainly more existential conflicts than these three, but these are the big ones which will be focused on. Until these existential conflicts become resolved, one cannot be very fulfilled. The big thing to focus on with fulfillment is the transvaluation of all values. Transvaluation is just an introspective process of carefully analyzing all of your values and deciding which ones are inauthentic and destructive, and which ones are actually helping your development. This should start with our moral structures. Moral structures are mere power structures that sow the seeds for establishing a false you vs. me dichotomy. Throughout history, many different races have claimed superiority and projected inferiority on others – would this have happened if they were aware that we are all equally valueless? Of course not. Morality must be replaced with mutual understanding, genuine compassion, and personal principles. To demonstrate the fact that moral structures are mere power structures, consider the shift from the Roman & Greek master moralities to the Christian slave morality. The roman master morality valued courage, strength, and intelligence. For the more passive members of society, one way of increasing your state of power was to form a moral paradigm shift that benefits the weak. Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”. When humans are approached with something they do not like, the best way to increase their own power is to initiate a moral imperative saying that what they dislike is inherently bad, so that others will suppress this “bad” thing. The most we can really say about something we dislike is that we dislike it. We cannot say that it has the property of “badness”.
Another regrettable consequence of moral absolutism is the condemnation of suffering, and thus a condemnation of life. Friedrich Nietzsche said “what does not kill you, makes you stronger”, because in overcoming a state of suffering, we make progression and are able to overcome obstacles in the future more efficiently. The moralities have decided that pleasure is inherently good, and suffering is inherently bad. In some sects of Buddhism and Hinduism, we are to suspend desire in order to extinguish suffering. With Christianity, suffering is something that we are to be saved from after death. An eternity of pleasure in heaven – though let us not brush over the fact that the biblical scholars have said that suffering and evil is the product of free will, and that heaven has no evil; the consequence: an eternity of robotic bliss, void of freedom. As a consequence of deeming pleasure as inherently good, and suffering inherently bad, many of us believe ourselves to be inbuilt hedonists. We think that the driving force of man is to seek pleasure. This is certainly not the case – constantly chasing sex, drugs, and money only ever leaves people feeling empty. Something that I call The Circular Sadness Paradox explains why desires are NOT formed by pleasure: If we say that desires are formed by emotions, and emotions are formed by the reaction of an event that affects ones desires, we reach a circular explanation in which we still do not seem to have a clear foundation for desire and emotion. The driving force of everything is The Will To Power – a concept devised by Friedrich Nietzsche that says that everything is just seeking power (in the vague sense of development and progression, not necessarily material / societal power), and pleasure is merely the product of fulfilling the will to power. The parts of the brain associated with desiring and striving actually take up more space than the areas associated with pleasure. We must understand that suffering can thrust the will to power, and so to live a fulfilling life it is required that we affirm the duality between suffering and pleasure, and understand that they both require each other to form beauty. Art would be miserably empty without the inspiration of suffering. So to reiterate: all inherited moral structures & power structures must be transvaluated by the individual to fit his own unique being. Principles must be seen as mere personal maxims that further ones motives, not extendable to others, as life is meaningless and the consequence of this is the collapse of moral objectivity. To see the logical impossibility of acting morally to begin with, refer to my previous article on Egoism VS. Altruism.
Following the transvaluation of moral structures & power structures comes the transvaluation of identity. When we’re thrown into this machine, we’re given a shoebox full of things to identify with, and because our minds are so vulnerable while developing we passively except it. To except arbitrary things such as ones country, socioeconomic status, possessions, job, sexuality / gender, etc. as a meaningful part of oneself is often just mere existential sedation. For whatever reason, people think their value increases the more they identify with things. The big problem with identity is that it causes unnecessary suffering and can stifle academic progression. When we start to identify with the positions we hold or the things we do, we start to develop an ego with it and interpret attacks on our positions as personal attacks. A socialist having his ideology questioned will feel as though he / she is being personally attacked, and will not be as open to genuinely considering the possibility that they are wrong. It is best to deconstruct your identity to only include basic psychological traits and passions, not abstract things such as nationality or social status. The other thing about identity is that we should not completely see ourselves as an independent entity abstracted from the universe and others – we should see ourselves as interconnected in the process of experience and flux that is the universe. In my previous article where I formulate my Psychological Universalism, I discuss the relational interconnectivity of nature and the self, albeit briefly. We currently operate in a mode of perception where we see ourselves as an entity disjointed from the environment around us. We artificially carve out the geometrical fields of our perception into concepts for practicality, but the reality is that everything is connected and to entirely separate ourselves from the environment is folly. If nothing interacted, nothing would exist. With anything we analyze, it becomes clear that the entirety of its identity is composed of relations, and if you deprave it of these relations, it ceases to be what it is. The self cannot be conceived of without these relations – these relations that, when analyzed, appear to span the depths of the universe. So, at our depths, we are the chaotic process of the universe.
Transvaluation on its own is not an instant jump to a state of fulfillment. You can transvaluate your values yet still be in a state of mediocrity. A creative outlet, a sense of wonder, exploration, healthy relationships, and compassion are still necessary of course. A big problem in modern society is this imbalance between creativity and consumption. Humans like to create. We are a creative species, so when we are in a state of constant consumption void of creation, existence becomes dull. Now, I won’t just regurgitate specific things you should be doing to live meaningfully, but rather I will finish off on the note of self exploration & philosophical exploration. Nobody has the same path, so nobody can tell you what your path is, but I will say that you have to dig into the depths of your psyche and introspect upon your life. Find your path. Our current education systems have a lack of focus on the general science of being in control of your consciousness and happiness. As a result of this, the common way of thinking for many people is that the mind is this untameable force that controls your fate. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” ~ Carl Jung. We need to have classes that teach people to mold their mind and access unconscious tensions. Take your path of progression and inner exploration, and see how far the rabbit hole can take you.
In summary, one must affirm the meaninglessness of life and transvaluate everything they have come to know – smashing to bits the relics of arbitrary values merely utilized by society for power; moralities, religions, law, government, consumerism, social status – whatever it may be for the individual. Through this process of transvaluation, man will come to know himself better, and thus know his neighbour better, forming a genuine compassion through mutual understanding. It is rather a sad reflection that mankind requires these floating abstractions of “right” and “wrong” to be kind, instead of forming peace through mutual understanding and genuine compassion. With the collapse of morality, we will no longer think in the mode of “us vs. them”. Racism and Nationalism will have no foundation to build itself upon, and mass shooters will have no moral ideology to inspire their violence. Arguably, much of societies problems stem from the inability to affirm meaninglessness, suffering, and the absence of moral truths. To live a fulfilling life, you cannot just go about your day and ignore everything, you must take a journey of introspection and philosophical reflection; this way you will come to know yourself and the nature of life, fulfillment, and psyche.
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche