Justifying Our Existence

Justifying Our Existence: An Essay in Applied Phenomenology

GRAEME NICHOLSON
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442688421
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  • Book Info
    Justifying Our Existence
    Book Description:

    Justifying Our Existenceexamines the ways in which human beings attempt to calm their existential concerns by magnifying and proving their existence through phenomena such as self-righteousness, careerism, nationalism, and religion.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8842-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    Although we pursue many goals during our lifetime, life itself is not one of our goals. It is something that we care about, but not in the sense that we try to bring it about. It is because we already care about our lives that we make the plans and accomplish the goals that we do, and the plans and actions do not produce this care: they proceed from it. We need to recognize, then, that what we care about is not only that which we plan and accomplish. Another example: because we care about our health, we pay heed...

  5. 2 The Ability to Be
    (pp. 19-49)

    Being and Time(SZ) is above all else an inquiry, the pursuit of a question.¹ The opening quotation from Plato and the eight-section Introduction lead the reader into the pursuit of the question: they awaken the spirit of inquiry, which is something more than the mere repetition of interrogative words. ‘What do we mean by “being”?’ This pursuit is a very long one, longer thanSZitself, and can only be begun by way of a lengthy preparation that is offered us by the text’s first division, a fundamental analysis that is ‘preparatory’ to the posing and the treatment of...

  6. 3 Magnifying the Self
    (pp. 50-74)

    In our age, there is a dream of success disseminated through the media, the cinema, print, and the educational system. Nobody can escape its allure. On television and in popular magazines the pre-eminent person of our age,thesuccess, is the celebrity. Business newspapers report on successful corporations, successful businessmen and businesswomen, and successful nations. In earlier times, we would read about ‘powerful’ corporations and ‘wealthy’ investors, but now a premium seems to be placed upon those who have succeeded in the struggles of the marketplace. And present-day discourse about education shares in this. In primary school as in graduate...

  7. 4 Justifying the Self
    (pp. 75-110)

    In this chapter, it is not the individual’s worldly interests that concern us but the interior self-consciousness, where factors such as the moral law and moral guilt are at play. Certainly these are items of intense concern to every individual. The point of this study will not be to develop a moral theory, i.e., promote one kind of moral theory over others. My philosophical references will be to Kant, but his theory is not really under discussion.¹ Our topic is a difficulty that arises from putting morality into practice in existence, a difficulty that is not theoretical. So, even while...

  8. 5 Magnifying the Community
    (pp. 111-124)

    Social and political thought studies the many forms of community. Our inquiry into existence is not concerned with this variety, but with the character of our attachment itself, the ways in which we belong to a community, be the latter what it may. What is important to everyone, ancient or modern, is an identification with one group and a separation from other ones. Is it too much to say that belonging in a community affords a ‘justification’ for our life or existence? When we consider it, not from the viewpoint of reason but from the viewpoint of care, this is...

  9. 6 Justifying the Community
    (pp. 125-140)

    It is not only in moral situations that the issue arises of justifying oneself as a whole, or one’s life as a whole. One can find one’s justification through one’s community (national, religious, or whatever). This depends upon the prospect of justifying that community itself – this is the moral society, a society endowed with a great culture, with a historic mission, and so on. On that assumption, the leaders of the community can appeal to youth to dedicate their lives to the service of the community – this is a promise of justifying one’s life, leading a worthwhile life. But how...

  10. 7 A Spiritual Existence
    (pp. 141-168)

    It is now one kind of existence that we shall look into – existence as spirit. The general points that we established about existence in chapter 2 will remain in place: it is the ability to be, marked by the possibility of being a self, and a possibility of not being itself, marked by being-with, and by temporality. We shall certainly need to explain the term ‘spirit,’ but thereupon succeeds the main task, to fill in the general concept by showing how spirit is realized within existence. This will then bring us to some questions about God and theology, in particular...

  11. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 169-172)

    Our presentation has begun, in each case, from the existing self and then proceeded to the community – a procedure that is suitable for a discussion of the spirit as well. And we have in each case begun with magnification and then proceeded to justification, for the latter must in some way encompass the former. It is not merely the self, and the community, that are to become magnified and justified: in all cases, the analysis showed that it is ourbeingthat we seek to magnify and justify. The vulnerable self that seeks to magnify itself begins from some intimation...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 173-188)
  13. Index
    (pp. 189-192)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-193)