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Re-living

Written by Raymond Santos Estrella on Monday, 28 June 2004. Posted in 2004

You see things; and you say,“Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

—George Bernard Shaw

One of the reasons why Albert Einstein was against time travel into the future was the Chaos Theory. This theory postulates that as you go further into the future, the certainty of where you are and the circumstances you will find yourself diminishes the farther you go into the future. This is caused by the increasing multitude of possibilities that could occur along the way, as the millions upon billions of choices that make up each person’s choices are so variable that a particular future might very well not exist if one or another choice were to differ. If you watched Back to the Future, you’ll notice that traveling to the future is quite easy because they didn’t take into account the other possibilities that might happen along the way to that future. All the what ifs and what if nots here become a paramount concern because predestination might not actually exist and therefore the freedom of action of each and every person might very well have incredibly vast effects on the future.

Same goes with this so-called life of mine. A few months ago, I had planned on moving this site onto a new webhost and continuing the PHP-MySQL-Flash 7 site I had previously left unfinished. As you can see, it remains that same way I had left it: unfinished. Herein lies the problem of planning for the future and lacking counterpart contingency planning. I guess you’ll have to bear with this 2 year old layout for quite a while. Sorry.

* * * * *

Midterms are in two weeks. I’ve been feeling quite anxious about it for the past month now. It feels quite odd to be in this position again after not having to go through any major tests in a long time. Its scary and at the same time exhilarating. To tell you honestly, I’m quite confused about how I feel. Oh well.

* * * * *

After two years of beating it into submission, I thought that I had my messianic complex eradicated or, at the very least, tamed it down to the point of controllability. This is what I get from watching too much Braveheart and The Matrix. I thought I had outgrown, for lack of better words, the desire to save the world. I guess I was wrong.

But I have to tell you that it didn’t come about spontaneously of my own free volition and I have this girl to thank for it. You see, it started quite innocently with her wanting to go to the World Youth Festival in Barcelona, Spain. She didn’t want to ask her parents for the full amount so she asked that 100 brave and considerate souls to each give her P300 to add to her funds in return for one good deed of the donor’s choice and posted this call to the internet here. I must say that when I read it, it seemed like an absolutely preposterous and crazy idea which, by the dictates of logic, was bound to fail. It was so crazy that I absolutely loved the idea.

Lo and behold, she has already raised over P30,000 as of this writing. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

I met her last week, July 22, to give her my contribution and got to talk to her for a while. She’s every bit as intelligent and quirky as I thought she would be, my assumptions being based on how she wrote on her blog. Talking to her made me remember how much I loved this country, how much I love the Filipino people and how much I’d like to change this stagnating society we live in today. It made me remember all about Kierkegaard and Sartre and Marcel, of all the wonderful things I learned in Philosophy and Theology classes in the Ateneo. It made me remember all about our responsibilities as humans in directing the currents of the future and the endlessly potential that we, as a people, can hope to attain.

For this, I thank you Pia Faustino.

* * * * *

I’m definitely not a Philo major. I’ve only read a handful of books on philosophy and understood even less. However, all this excitement has made me remember existentialist philosophy, most notably those reflections done by Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard, the former more than the latter. I will try to discuss this to the best of my ability so please bear with me if I’m a bit off with their doctrines.

Existentialism is based on the premise that existence precedes essence. Sounds simple but its incredibly complex and that mere statement holds a great deal of ramifications. You see, old school Cartesian philosophies hold the contrary view that essence precedes existence. To put it one way, say I’m a carpenter and I’d like to make a chair. In my mind I know what a chair’s supposed to be, the factors involved which make it a chair such as sturdiness, its number of legs and so on before I actually build it. The same goes with humans and most Christian philosophers attribute the creation of our essence on God.

Existentialism, on the other hand, views things differently. They’re not atheists in the sense that they don’t believe in the existence of God, but rather, that the question of God’s existence is quite irrelevant. From their standpoint, existence precedes essence and that we’re created pretty much from thin air, so to speak, that we exist and throughout our lives we create ourselves, we define our essence.

Kierkegaard puts it best when he posed the question: what if there isn’t a God? What if there isn’t a superbeing who can save us? What are we to do then? How are we to go about defining ourselves?

Now comes the conundrum of existence preceding essence, that as we go about our lives, we feel the incredible weight of despair—pure, unadulterated despair in the loss of faith in something or someone that could very well save us. Herein lies the problem of how we should go about defining our own essence, that in order to define it we must make the right choices not only for ourselves but also for all men since we become responsible not only for our own actions but for all mankind as well to set a standard by which everyone is to go about their own lives.

This incredible weight of responsibility for the rest of our kind so marks this philosophy that its so humanistic in its approach to the mortal condition. The difference between Kierkegaard and Sartre is that where the latter relies merely on the responsibility on each human person to set a standard for others in the search for man’s essence, Kierkegaard makes the leap of faith by stating boldly that “faith is a leap into the absurd”. He does so in the belief that the weight of despair, of the feeling of nausea for the dismal human condition and the overwhelming weight of responsibility upon a human’s shoulders, one necessarily has to take that leap of faith in a God.

To believe in a God would, though seemingly absurd because of the difficulty in means by which God’s existence could be proved, be the most rational thing to do. Oddly paradoxical, its is but the only means by which man could hold on to his very sanity for to continue disbelieving would bring back the feeling of dread as well as break the path from the most rational means of salvation. This faith in God eventually makes the believer in the absurd a more rational thinker than his fellow unbelievers because his faith would, in a manner of speaking, “color” his whole perception of the rest of the world.

You won’t hear it from anyone else but if you dream of saving the world, of changing it because you see that its rotting and decayed, you really have to read some form of existential philosophy.

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About the Author

Raymond

Raymond Santos Estrella

I guess I should really make a proper writeup here. Something witty or maybe a joke to add some levity. I’ll come back to this when I have time. If you have any suggested copy that I can insert here, drop me a line.

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