“Here’s something that my Mom said to me and I think it’s very true, in terms of happiness: ‘You have to always have something to look forward to.’ And it can be a very minor thing, and it can be a major thing. But you always have to have something you’re looking forward to next.”
—Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actress
“The chess game was a game that Zarathustra invented to entertain the king. And it’s called The Game of Kings. And each piece on that board represents life. The king, the queen, the pawn, the bishop… an element of life. And the two knights represent love and work. Because love and work is the only piece that can jump over other obstacles. So, you should have some love for some of your work that you do.”
—Diane Ladd, actress
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.