Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hyperexistentialism: Clearing a Path to Conscious Living

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Hyperexistentialism: Clearing a Path to Conscious Living.

Existentialism: I exist and my mind is responsible for my experience of living.
Hyperexistentialism: I can make an effort to be responsible for my mind.

Obviously these two definitions are generalizations, reduced to their basest ideas. Anyone with even the most minimal understanding of existentialism knows it's a complicated matter to understand, or explain. Part of the goal of this piece, as with most of my work, will be to simplify the definition to a tidy, modern interpretation that will expose what was previously believed to be a lack of utilitarian meaning and purpose. Existentialism need not be confusing. 

To begin with, existentialism, at its root, should be wholly concerned with existence. The existentialist argues simply that "I exist and create all meaning for myself." This is an important sentence in our understanding of existentialism, whether it be classic or modern, or carried over into hyperexistentialism. The first part of the sentence, "I exist," is a mathematical proof expressed in the simplest form: (I) a Philosopher would say, "There exists such a thing as I." I am real. I am here. I am aware of these facts. You reading these words also helps prove that I exist, for if I didn't, neither would these words. (There is a very valid argument against any existential proof of my reality, but let's start out slow by simply presuming that I am and you are, in fact, real.)

The second part of the existentialists claim is that "I create all meaning for myself." This is an extremely complex statement. Reduced into Philosopher speak it would sound something like "All meaning is created by the individual." By "meaning" we can discern "value, importance, relevance." It is not a concept unlike my own Assignee's Prerogative, whereby we acknowledge that we assign some quantifiable weight to our paradigm. (See Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self.) Also, an equally important concern for the existentialist should be that we, as beings capable of philosophy in the first place, have as at least part of our purposes the doing of philosophy, about our existences. As such, while a tree or a cow exists, it cannot be existentialist. By taking action we are changing the world, we have the opportunity to plan our escapades, it would be a shame to squander such gifts for mere immediate concerns. Thus, even traditional existentialists agree that philosophical thinking begins and ends with the human being, an acting, feeling, product of the past, present and future. We are solely responsible for giving meaning to our lives, not society, not religion, not even other people. Our minds are responsible for our the experience of our lives and we can make an effort to be responsible for our minds.

This is not to say that an existentialist cannot love, for instance, or believe in God, or find meaning in Religion or even social norms, but rather that the existentialist understands that I create this meaning for myself, stemming from these notions. These concerns, however, are not truly existential, as they are part of our essences. I am, I exist, and while the notion of a belief in God is no less existential, it only exists because I accept it as existing. Here now we speak of only the idea of the belief, not the belief itself. God is part of my essence, should I choose, for whatever reason to believe in God. Existence precedes essence. We become existential when we are born a blank slate, we fill up that slate with associations that build into paradigm and "the markings" on that slate become our essence. An existentialist is simply able to see the slate laid bare, or at least understands that it was life that made the indelible marks, whatever those marks might be. 

This brings us to the apparent meaninglessness of life, for if we give all meaning to our lives and to the world, does that not mean that life has no inherent meaning? A classic existentialist would answer, "Yes, life is a void that we attempt to fill," thus, existential angst. For instance, in the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus describes the ancient tale of Sisyphus, apparently doomed to push a boulder up a hill, just to have it roll down the other side. He then attempts to push it back up, just to have it roll down the original side and on it goes, forever. Camus claims much in life is represented by this absurdity. However there is hope, if Sisyphus can find meaning and value in the act of pushing the boulder perhaps we too can find the same in our lives. 

Existentialism emphasizes the individual as a free and responsible agent, doing the best possible work in a meaningless world, (or at least, this is the goal.) There are some who would argue that there is no "work" to be done if the world is meaningless. To me this seems to render the idea of existentialism out of the arena of actionable philosophy into pure nihilism. Nihilism expounds that existence is meaningless, substance-less, senseless and useless. A nihilist believes that there are only the things there are and there aren't even any possibilities beyond that. An existentialist and nihilist are looking at the same phenomenon, "life" as the amount of existence we are understood to have. Where an existentialist can shrug off the unknowable and speak only to that which is known, a nihilist insists that what we know is all there is to know. (Which seems pretty arrogant, considering how often humans have been extremely wrong about our ideas in the past.) 

While modern existentialists need not concern themselves with nihilism, they can also avoid the humanist movement. Unlike nihilism, humanism does allow for us to value the talents we have over other creatures. Humanists too fall into the arrogant category of believing that humans are the pinnacle of experience. A humanist claims that there is an explanation for everything and that anything beyond our explanation is discoverable or it doesn't exist. Humanists insist that what humans can be, is all there is to find. While an existentialist would agree that humans seem to have an unique ability to philosophize, perhaps even a duty to do so to serve an apparent purpose, he or she would also leave open the opportunity for the unknown to exist. There is no room for faith in nihilism or humanism, also no room for mystery and there is plenty of mystery in the universe. An existentialist accepts the reality of chaos, the reality of there being truths that we haven't yet come to understand.

Existentialism asks us to be who we are and work from within the world's absurd meaninglessness. Herein lay the value of the philosophy as a life path as well as its pitfall. We can have any beliefs we want, we can believe any nonsense we like, but we must do so from within the existentialist framework, which states that we must detach ourselves from any essential beliefs. (Essential beliefs are things that I must believe exist in order for them to become part of my essence, the markings on my slate.) This often delineates pure existentialism from things such as, for instance, a personality of taciturn complacency. It is often the case that a person just "is" an existentialist. He or she did not set out to become one, but rather had been one their entire life and it wasn't until he or she read Camus that they realize the underlying philosophy of their lives. Hyperexistentialism exists to bring existentialism to the masses by spreading into a social norm that can only help our faltering, absurd world. Hyperexistentialism creates existentialists. 

Where it is possible for a existentialist to just be, and do, without any particular forethought, the hyperexistentialist cannot. Hyperexistentialism separates the existentialist from my freedom to "just be" and my responsibility from that "being" by way of appreciating the constituents of my essence, (the marks I have made on my blank slate, my paradigmatic associations, my "self.") Where an existentialist claims that the associations I have made over the years of my life, the things that produce my Ego, are the very things that stand in the way of my authenticity, the hyperexistentialist accepts the markings on the slate as understood, having already been discovered, sourced and authenticated. (The process of doing so involves discovering the discrepancies between assignee's prerogative and hyper-manipulation by using what I call the philosophy generator, see: Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self.) For our purposes today, simply consider hyperexistentialism as the use of your already authenticated self, existentially. The hyperexistentialist takes the utmost self-responsibility and lives the most conscious life.

Hyperexistentialism creates in the bearer a desire to actively think existentially. Where the existentialist understand his or her freedom and responsibility, where they come from, what that means, the hyperexistentialist uses that freedom and responsibility prudently. Thus, the "hyper" takes the bearer from mere being to truly doing. Hyperexistentialists, have as part of their essence a philosophy that takes an consciously active role in their lives, they are not be-ers as much as they are doers. All the "being" is already existential, but the existentialist doesn't need to use existentialism, in any fashion at all, he or she already does by merely existing, enlightened or not. The hyperexistentialist uses existential freedom and responsibility actively, in day to day life, by way of both an unparalleled understanding of his or her authentic self and a commitment to direct the absurdity of the world into something virtuous and prudential. This is the hallmark of all real responsibility. If you take it upon yourself to do the thinking and choosing, particularly about the actions you take, you are ultimately responsible. No more will you be able to say, "I don't know what I was thinking." 

How is hyperexistentialism going to help? Simply put, it's going to help by instilling an outward looking existentialism. Existentialism will help by creating objectivity in lives that are entirely subjective. (Knowing that life has only the meaning we give it, we can make an effort to give meaning to the things that matter in our lives.) Hyperexistentialism promises to take this prerogative to an altruistic level, assigning importance to the things that not only matter to ourselves, but matter to all, across the totality of the human experience. As such, hyperexistentialism must take into account the role of societal programming of the individual, by doing so we are not only addressing ourselves we are addressing society. Just like there can be no "right or wrong" answers beyond that which we create as individuals, the same can be said about societies. As we are, at least in part, socially engineered beings, hyperexistentialism is not possible without first anti-social engineering. Anti-social engineering is the most modern and thorough pathway to the authentic self. By definition hyperexistentialism is not possible without anti-social engineering the hyper-manipulated self. 

What would a hyperexistential society look like? For starters, it would make sense, above all else. It would illustrate and demonstrate the differences between who we consider ourselves to be and what we do in the world. Keeping our action in line with that which is consciously prudential can only benefit ourselves and our world. Such a society, as would be the case for such an individual, wouldn't have to waste any time on matters that didn't make sense, or worse yet, were counterproductive. Such a society would be living in an actual reality, accountable to truth, logic and promotive virtue. (The discussion of virtue is a complicated matter, in and of itself, again, please read Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self.) Such a society would be working toward goals that would counter everything that is wrong with the world today: Wilful ignorance, short-sightedness, greed, racism, sexism, in short the rampant ineptitude of modernity. 

Hyperexistentialism will save the human species, not because it's the greatest idea ever, but because ultimately humanity will come to this discovery on their own. There's really no choice in the matter. (I've just given it a name.) We, in our limited vision and wisdom, have been trying to live up to a particular standard of society, since it was invented by the Romans, that can't be achieved. The people who live a pure, real life today are the folks that take no part, (or a very limited part,) in such societies. These people are outcasts in western societies, they are the folks living off the grid, providing for themselves, living a life based on survival and nature. This is a healthy life, but it is not human kind living up to its potential. Of course, you will find people like this all over the world, but the African tribe living in straw huts is not part of the western paradigm and therefore not part of the problem. All of the problems facing the world today are the result of a disinterest in the future, for the sake of present. Hyperexistentialism takes future concerns and places them in our forethought. It is planning for the best possible existence, not only for ourselves, but for everyone. It is a reparation to the individual and society that we give to ourselves, that exponentially changes what we give to others. 

Hyperexistentialism will ultimately lead our amalgam intellect to the pinnacle of our species potential, equitably, prudently and favourably.

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