• Wallows
    9.3k
    This isn't a question many people are going to ask. Yet, I feel compelled to ask this question. Schopenhauer states the following;

    When you consider how great and how immediate is the problem of existence, this ambiguous, tormented, fleeting, dreamlike existence - so great and so immediate that as soon as you are aware of it overshadows and obscures all other problems and aims; and when you then see how men, with a few rare exceptions, have no clear awareness of this problem, indeed seem not to be conscious of it all, but concern themselves with anything rather than with this problem and live on taking thought only for the day and for the hardly longer span of their own individual future, either expressly refusing to consider this problem or contenting themselves with some system of popular metaphysics; when, I say, you consider this, you may come to the opinion that man can be called a thinkking being only in a very broad sense of that term and no longer feel very much surpise at any thoughtlessness or silliness whatever, but will realize, rather, that while the intellectual horizon of the normal man is wider than that of the animal - whose whole existence is, as it were, one continual present, with no consciousness of past or future - it is not so immeasurably wider as is generally supposed. — Aphorisms, On Thinking for Yourself, 12

    With the above in mind, and such, do you feel as if the question itself is overwhelming or doesn't make sense? One might just as well ask what would a universe without anything in it be like? A nonsensical question, I suppose...

    What is your reaction to this question, and if anyone could point me out where Wittgenstein addresses the problem of existence, then please let me know?

    Thanks.
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    We’re feathers on the wind, whirls in a pool, a table, a chair, another echoed of a wall, the hollowed shape that carries a sound, we’re doubters.

    Existence is doubting. What doubting is, or if we can call ‘doubting’ an ‘is’ kinda thing, is - as Schoopoopoo says - an easy semantic out.

    What overwhelms forces us to commit to curious investigation and fear - often cloaked by the pretense of something that is easier to swallow (ie. ‘to dismiss’ or ‘to hoodwink’). Dismissing, or looking away, is far more palatable than framing our good selves as abject cowards quivering under various strains of ignorance.

    There is also self-preservation (the irony of ironies when contemplating ‘existence’!) haha!
  • uncanni
    338
    the question itself is overwhelmingWallows

    What is the question? Do you mean what he refers to as the problem of existence?

    In one sense, Schopenhauer is being a bit like the fox with his tail cut off: he wants everyone to experience the angst of examining the meaning of one's own existence. And, of course, he's correct: the vast majority of folks are content eating their tv dinner in front of the tv, or thinking, I'm saved; I have nothing to worry about.

    Not everyone is capable of contemplating the problem that Schope lays out. My reaction: he's right. To contemplate the problem of existence is not fun or mind-numbing.
  • litewave
    422
    I used to be amazed by the question of why there exists something rather than nothing. I am still amazed by it but I experienced some resolution when I asked myself what "existence" actually means. What does it mean that something "exists"?

    My answer is that "existence" in the most general sense is logical consistency: something "exists" if it is logically consistent; or in other words, if it is what it is and is not what it is not; or if it is identical to itself and different from what it is not. This is the most general definition of existence because anything that exists must satisfy this condition of logical consistency or identity. It is actually the definition of existence in mathematics.

    You may agree that anything that exists must be identical to itself and still disagree that anything that is identical to itself exists. But that would just narrow the definition of existence: you would pick a subset of objects from the set of all objects that exist under the most general definition of existence. The reason why the objects of this particular subset exist is the same reason why all objects exist (logical consistency); the objects in this particular subset just have some particular interesting property, for example they are part of an object that in physics is called "spacetime" and thus they are subject to laws of physics and can be interacted with. We could also say that the objects of the particular subset exist in a particular way.
  • Pantagruel
    262
    I would characterize this as the challenge of uncertainty. How is it that what is presentationally and logically most given is reflectively most elusive?
  • Banno
    6.5k
    ...so great and so immediate that as soon as you are aware of it overshadows and obscures all other problems and aims; — Aphorisms, On Thinking for Yourself, 12

    Until you get hungry.
  • PoeticUniverse
    781
    You may agree that anything that exists must be identical to itself and still disagree that anything that is identical to itself exists.litewave

    Yes, for while there isn't anything as temporary that is identical to itself over time, there needs to be a Permanence to make the events possible.

    I have to go to lunch.
  • Punshhh
    887
    I find it comforting. I know that there is something, that's good enough for me and if there's one something, then there must be many others, the world/universe is my oyster.
  • Janus
    8.6k
    And, of course, he's correct: the vast majority of folks are content eating their tv dinner in front of the tv, or thinking, I'm saved; I have nothing to worry about.uncanni

    More important than the general question of existence is the question of what the implications for the general well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants are, that you can sit comfortably in front of your TV eating a TV dinner.

    It is only when a certain level of prosperity is reached that individuals have the luxury of kicking back and asking the so-called "existential "questions at all. Schopenhauer never had to work a day in his life, and his philosophy shows the careless arrogance that comes with such privilege.
  • litewave
    422
    Yes, for while there isn't anything as temporary that is identical to itself over time, there needs to be a Permanence to make the events possible.PoeticUniverse

    In a sense, everything is permanent, because its existence is logical consistency and logical consistency is timeless; a logically consistent object cannot not be logically consistent and thus it cannot not exist; time just falls out of the picture. But how do we reconcile this timeless permanence of all objects with our experience of the passage of time and the evolution of our identity over time?

    Well, theory of relativity describes time as a special kind of space: in addition to the three "normal" spatial dimensions there is a fourth spatial dimension that is mathematically a bit different and can be usefully regarded as time. A spacetime, then, is a kind of 4-dimensional geometrical object that exists timelessly and this object has a certain structure that constitutes objects in spacetime and has regularities that we know as laws of physics.

    Our conscious selves are some of the objects in spacetime which are extended not only in the three "normal" spatial dimensions but also in the time dimension; their extension in the time dimension measures on the order of tens of milliseconds (that's the temporal span of human conscious experience). My conscious self at this moment and my conscious self a few tens of milliseconds further are different objects in spacetime which are however closely connected through laws of physics and their character is such that a certain representation of a prior self is contained in the later self and the later self experiences this representation as a memory. The later self also contains a certain representation of an even later self and this representation is usually less specified than a memory and is experienced as an anticipation. The experience of memories and anticipations together with the overall experience of the self that contains them seems to constitute the experience of the passage of time.
  • PoeticUniverse
    781
    A spacetime, then, is a kind of 4-dimensional geometrical object that exists timelessly and this object has a certain structure that constitutes objects in spacetime and has regularities that we know as laws of physics.litewave

    I've been trying resolve presentism versus eternalism without complete success, but the indication of permanence is a great clue for eternalism and the relativity of simultaneity is a downfall to presentism.

    The experience of memories and anticipations together with the overall experience of the self that contains them seems to constitute the experience of the passage of time.litewave

    Memory’s ideas recall the last heard tone;
    Sensation savors what is presently known;
    Imagination anticipates coming sounds;
    The delight is such that none could produce alone.
  • litewave
    422
    Memory’s ideas recall the last heard tone;
    Sensation savors what is presently known;
    Imagination anticipates coming sounds;
    The delight is such that none could produce alone.
    PoeticUniverse

    Nicely put. Unfortunately, delights are sometimes replaced by horrors. My comforting hope is that the horrors as a learning experience will facilitate prevention of future horrors.
  • uncanni
    338
    It is only when a certain level of prosperity is reached that individuals have the luxury of kicking back and asking the so-called "existential "questions at all. Schopenhauer never had to work a day in his life, and his philosophy shows the careless arrogance that comes with such privilege.Janus

    That's pretty much the history of western philosophy, a leisure activity for sure. Philosophers have for the most part traditionally suffered from the scourge of white male privilege.
  • Coben
    1k
    One reaction I have this time, is that on some level it seems to me it is not taking responsibility for being a part of this universe. Yes, it is bewildering and strange, but I do not simply find myself in it, I am a part of it. I am like it. I don't just experience the mystery, I am the mystery.
  • fresco
    558

    Yes, the 'problem' (if any) might be equivalent to asking 'could a piece on a chess board have a conception of the game of chess' ?
    IMO, only Heidegger's analysis of 'being' goes anywhere near 'the problem' by pointing out that 'things' and awareness of 'self' are co-evoked over what we called 'time'. This led me to the pragmatist position that that we can only deal with the idea of 'existence of a thing' in terms of 'human utility'. But 'the problem' of general 'existence' per se is like Kant's noumena inaccessible, and therefore potentially meaningless.
  • Wallows
    9.3k
    This topic has been bittersweet to me.

    At once I agree with ol Schopenhauer and at the same time want to disagree.

    Banno's comment is elucidating, in that philosophy becomes redundant and worthless frankly. What takes supreme importance is to appreciate life.
  • NilsArnold
    19
    the problem of existence is addressed by Sartre in the introduction of Being and Nothingness
    what is it? it's a God-given feeling that comes from acting in accordance with the phenomenon which is to ensure that you always check in series what you are doing so that you can be sure that you are in no way the object of your perception
    then you get existence - "concrete, individual being, here and now"
  • NilsArnold
    19
    apparently that is not true
  • fresco
    558

    What is 'not true' ?
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    With the above in mind, and such, do you feel as if the question itself is overwhelming or doesn't make sense? One might just as well ask what would a universe without anything in it be like? A nonsensical question, I suppose...

    What is your reaction to this question, and if anyone could point me out where Wittgenstein addresses the problem of existence, then please let me know?

    This might sound too simple, but I think these sorts of problems typically arise when we turn adjectives and verbs into nouns via nominalization. So instead of the problem of existing, we get the problem of existence. The problem of being conscious turns into the problem of consciousness, and so on. I believe if we refuse to nominalize verbs and adjectives these questions become more simple to answer.
  • Inyenzi
    56
    One reaction I have this time, is that on some level it seems to me it is not taking responsibility for being a part of this universe. Yes, it is bewildering and strange, but I do not simply find myself in it, I am a part of it. I am like it. I don't just experience the mystery, I am the mystery.Coben

    Yes, exactly. Life appears absurd and bizarre only when one takes a derealized/depersonalized stance towards it - when you intellectually look at existence from the point of view of someone that is other/outside the world. But we are caught up within, and as part of the world - there is nothing other than it.
  • Coben
    1k
    That's close, I think, to what I meant. I am still groping towards what my reaction was even in my own head. One way to put it is that S seems to be treating himself as a stranger here. But he's not. He's part of the universe. He is as strange and likely as problematic as the rest of it.
  • god must be atheist
    1k
    S seems to be treating himself as a stranger here. But he's not. He's part of the universe. He is as strange and likely as problematic as the rest of it.Coben

    I don't get this. Is one part of the universe, no matter how you do the division into parts, and how large or small, how complex or simplex, or how fat or how hungry, that part is compared to another, different part, they are equally problematic and strange?

    How so? Different things are different, and their problematicness and strangety should file rank as well in the diffferentness.
  • Coben
    1k
    There were two things I said: 1) that it seemed to me he was saying he was a stranger here and that's he's not. We are not strangers here. We are part of here. We are small parts of the universe. This is where we belong. (I mean, unless it is a prison or foreign place to us and we are really from somewhere else.)

    Then the second thing which it seems to me you responded to. That we are as strange. This is more tricky yes. We are a part, it is the whole. Perhaps it is more problematic than us, perhaps it is stranger. I am not sure how much my making the two strangenesses equivalent is hyperbole or to be taken directly, but I will defend the latter.

    Why is there something rather than nothing? This question is often asked about the universe and it strikes people as odd that there is something all.

    I think this holds just as much for us. That size makes no difference or even complexity. That there is anything is odd.

    Then as sentient beings, I think we have many of the same contradictions in us that we feel are present in the whole. We seem to be organized, but also really at times rather random. We can be beautiful and yet can be cruel and utterly uncaring.

    I think if each of us were to do a real honest introspective inventory, we would find that most of what is strange about the universe, is also strange about us.
    When you consider how great and how immediate is the problem of existence, this ambiguous, tormented, fleeting, dreamlike existence — Aphorisms, On Thinking for Yourself, 12
    Now here he is talking about Existence which is not quite the same as the universe. He is talking about it as, more or less, something that we experience, not as us. But not only is existance ambigious, but we are ambiguous, even with each other. We are not clear, so often, we give double messages, hide things, have body language that says one thing and words that say another. Tormented, sure, but also tormenting.

    I see us as participating in whatever accusation of oddness or 'problem of evilness' that the whole shebang is.

    Like a piece of a fractal saying the whole fractal is weird. When that piece of the fractal is the same as the whole.

    A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.

    Now I don't feel like I have to hang on to the level of degree of strangeness, but I do think that most any j'accuse or strangeness we can point at when pointing at the unverse we have and not only that we actively participate in it.

    The universe isn't happening to us. We are part of the happening that is the universe.
  • Magnus Anderson
    336
    What does Schopenhauer mean when he says "the problem of existence"? Can someone help me understand the problem he's speaking of?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    It was never clear to me why existence is supposed to be a "problem" in the first place.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    We’re feathers on the wind,I like sushi

    I think Kansas wrote a song about that.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    We’re feathers on the wind,
    — I like sushi

    I think Kansas wrote a song about that.
    Terrapin Station
    That was Dust in the Wind.

    With the above in mind, and such, do you feel as if the question itself is overwhelming or doesn't make sense? One might just as well ask what would a universe without anything in it be like? A nonsensical question, I suppose...Wallows
    I don't understand the problem.

    What would be the purpose of asking what a universe without anything would be like? What questions would you be trying to answer?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    That was Dust in the Wind.Harry Hindu

    But that's not funny.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be funny.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k

    Yeah, it was a jokey comment. Normally I joke around a lot.
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