Here we have arrived at the point of the existentialist’s rejection of normative theories of human nature. In the existentialist’s opinion, there is no one model that specifies how all human beings ought to be.
Indeed there is no single way, in any sense, that each and every human being ought to be. There is only the way that each person is, and that finally comes down to the way he chooses to be. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: ” ‘This is my way; where is yours?’—thus I answered those who asked me ‘the way.’ For the way—that does not exist.”
For the existentialist, each person is unique. There is no model outside the person that tells him or her how to be. It is within himself or herself that the person must find the resources for making choices and for living. Clearly, this is asking a lot. Some people would say it is more than any human being can handle, since external guidance is necessary for human life.
Snyder, William S. and Eugene A. Troxell. Making Sense of Things: An Invitation to Philosophy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1976. 96-97. Print.
III. TRUE it is, indeed, and too true, that men generally abhor Death, sometimes because they look upon it as the Greatest of Pains, sometimes because they apprehend it as the cessations of all their enjoiments, or privation of all things that are dear to them in life; but in both these respects, altogether without cause: since this thing, Not-to-live, or Not-to-be, ought to be no occasion of Terror; because when once we come to that, we shall have no faculty left whereby to know, that Not-to-live hath any thing of Evil in it.
IV. HEREUPON, we may conclude that those are great Fools who abhor to think that after Death their Bodies should be torn by wild beasts, burned in the flame of the funeral pile, devoured by worms, etc. for, they do not consider, that then they shall not be, and so not feel, not complain, that they are torn, burned, devoured by corruption or worms. And that those are Greater Fools, who take it grievously that they shall no longer enjoy the conversation of their Wives, Children, Friends, no longer do them good offices, nor afford them their assistance; for these do not consider, that then they shall have no longer Relation to, nor Desire of Wife, Children, Friends, or any thing else.
V. WE said, that Death (accounted the King of Terrors, and most horrid of all Evils) doth nothing concern us, because, while we are, Death is not; and when Death is, we are not; so that he, who profoundly considers the matter, will soon conclude that Death doth not concern neither the Living, nor the Dead; not the living, because it yet toucheth them not, not the Dead, because they are not.
VI. AND, as the assurance of this, that Death nothing concerns us, doth exempt us from the greatest of Terrors, so also doth it make us to enjoy life to the most advantage of pleasure, not by adding thereunto any thing of uncertain Time, but by Detracting all desire of Immortality. For, in life there can be nothing Evil to him, who doth perfectly understand, that there can be nothing of Evil in the privation of life.
Charleton, Walter. Epicurus: His Morals. London: Peter Davies, 1926. 76-77. Print.
“Green Eyes (Aquellos Ojos Verdes).” English translation by Eddie Rivera and Eddie Woods.
To the former of these Sects we may justly annumerate all such, who conceived the soul of man to be only a certain harmony, not of Musical sounds, but a contemperation of parts, humours, and qualities; and consequently, that as of Musical Harmony, nothing can remain after the sounds are vanished, so of the soul nothing can remain, after death hath once destroyed that harmonious Contemperation of parts, humours, and qualities, from whence it did result.
And this purely was the opinion of not only those ancienter Greeks, Dicaearchus, Aristoxenus, Andraeas, and Asclepiades, all which are thereof strongly accused by Plato (in Phaed.) and Aristotle (Lib. I. de Anima. Cap. 5.) but also our Master Galen, who was positive an plain in his definition of the soul, to be a certain Temperament of Elementary Qualities.
Charleton, Walter. “An Apology for Epicurus.” Epicurus: His Morals. London: Peter Davies, 1926.
White shirts never really went away, of course—there has always been a certain kind of man (vigilant against trends and unbothered by boxier fits) who preferred them above all others—so it’s not like they’re coming back into style. Rather, we are the ones coming back to white shirts, rediscovering their virtues and remaking them in our own image.
Stein, Joshua David. “The Hunt For the Great White Shirt.” Esquire. 14 Jan. 2015.
The wisdom of marriage rests upon an extremely unsentimental view of lovers and their passions. Its assumptions, when they are frankly exposed, are horrifying to those who have been brought up in the popular romantic tradition of the Nineteenth Century. These assumptions are that, given an initial attraction, a common social background, common responsibilities, and the conviction that the relationship is permanent, compatibility in marriage can normally be achieved.
It is precisely this that the prevailing sentimentality about love denies. It assumes that marriages are made in heaven, that compatibility is instinctive, a mere coincidence, that happy unions are, in the last analysis, lucky accidents in which two people who happen to suit each other happen to have met.
The convention of marriage rests on an interpretation of human nature which does not confuse the subjective feeling of the lovers that their passion is unique, with the brutal but objective fact that, had they never met, each them would in all probability have found a lover who was just as unique.
“Love,” says Mr. [George] Santayana, “is indeed much less exacting than it thinks itself. Nine-tenths of its cause are in the lover, for one-tenth that may be in the object. Were the latter not accidentally at hand, an almost identical passion would probably have been felt for some one else; for, although with acquaintance the quality of an attachment naturally adapts itself to the person loved, and makes that person its standard ideal, the first assault and mysterious glow of the passion is much the same for every object.”
This is the reason why the popular conception of romantic love as the meeting of two affinities produces so much unhappiness. The mysterious glow of passion is accepted as a sign that the great coincidence has occurred; there is a wedding and soon, as the glow of passion cools, it is discovered that no instinctive and preordained affinity is present.
At this point the wisdom of popular romantic marriage is exhausted. For it proceeds on the assumption that love is a mysterious visitation. There is nothing left, then, but to grin and bear a miserably dull and nagging fate, or to break off and try again.
The deep fallacy of the conception is in the failure to realize that compatibility is a process and not an accident, that it depends on the maturing of instinctive desire by adaptation to the whole nature of the other person and to the common concerns of the pair of lovers.
Lippmann, Walter. A Preface to Morals. New York: Macmillan, 1929. 309-10. Print.