Existentialism Philosophy

Alienation Inevitability

In a world where estrangement is prevalent, it is not unusual that the forces of cultural socialization will preach a doctrine that rejects the reality of this common condition. Refusal to acknowledge the systemic occurrence of social alienation is the sign of the success that conditioning has achieved. Institutions, organizations and bureaucratic organisms all share a mutual root tenet - they are the embodiment of the social order. If one is to believe in their correctness, then conflict should be minimal. Just look around, the planet is hardly a friendly social environment. Maybe, all is not well in paradise . . .

The typical person avoids philosophical inquiry, not due to it’s difficulty in comprehension, but because it requires self reflection. Since it is easier to accept the cultural creed - conform and cooperate - becomes the normal course for conduct. Yet, turmoil is rampant and individuals are detached from the whole, as they go through the motives of belonging.

Serious subjects can be explained in clear terms. Any mystery need not be in the analysis, even when it applies to sober topics. So excuses to dodge the ascetic pursuit, may reinforce a false comfort of ignorance, but it can never justify an earnest esteem for your own self. Dignity requires honesty. Political allegiance demands truth of a cause. Philosophy and religion are not irrelevant, even when some experience discomfort in their respected substance.

The insights of Karl Barth speaks to a universal theme of life. Arguments based upon a religious context, frequently are ignored or dismissed, based upon the orientation or attitude that is brought to the thesis. Citing scripture has little weight with the non believer. Even with the faithful, such methods are usually unconvincing. When Barth faces the nature of man, his Existential convictions demonstrate a theological view of our condition. Karl Barth stated: "Sin is man as we now know him." This assessment from, Man In Adam And In Christ, by Arthur Custance sets the context: “ And all that we know of history forces us to assent to his judgment. So deeply ingrained is this natural bent for destruction of himself and society that we have to conclude with Augustine that man was free to choose to do either good or evil until he fell, thereafter he had freedom only to choose the kind of evil he would do.”

Theodicy, a vindication of divine justice in the face of the existence of evil, can be problematic. “Sin is "detrimental", and harmful to the extent of disturbing, injuring and destroying "the creature and its nature" (CD, III.3, 310). Barth speaks of it as a "denaturalizing" and "self-alienation" (Barth, 1981, 213).” Barth sees evil being, “sin as the enemy, and that sin best named as the evil action of pride (IV.1), the evil inaction of sloth (IV.2), and falsehood (IV.3).”

From, Barth’s Moral Theology: Human Action in Barth’s Thought, by J Webster, we get this summary: “Barth’s theology takes with great seriousness the command for rebellion against sin: the defeat of sin is not merely a vicarious achievement, passively received from the hands of an omnipotent Lord, but a summons to us to recover our agency and assume the liberty in which we stand. (Webster, 1998, 76) What we obtain from Barth is a call to arms to seek and overcome a corrupt nature, while fighting a battle that always is imperfect.

The alienation that we all endure may be unconscious to the uninformed, but it is present in every social experience. The disaffection may not seem obvious in the gregarious, but the actions of the individuals trump the style of the appearance. Some critics of the Karl Barth sagacity stresses "angst" - a feeling of anxiety that seems to pervade an irrational world, absent of absolutes. Critiques from Jon Zens: “When applied to the discipline of theology, the exegesis of Scripture and content of faith ultimately arise out of an existential foundation "derived from the tradition of secular thought", fail to understand that all thought is non-religious, even when conclusions accept a divine hand. Believers arrive at their trust, beyond thought, through Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith”. Basing a social system on pedantic dogma is just as absurd as a society ruled by absolute moral relativism.

Any and all viewpoints must become internalized before they are willingly recognized. While truth exists as an external reality, our personal consciousness is the vehicle we use to reach that destination. Our modern world has committed the global sin of arrogance, as society buried God as the source of our existence. Animosity is a direct result of rejecting a permanent purpose. Since individualism is an inescapable uniqueness, relativists reason that ethical behavior evolves to accommodate the circumstance. Society arbitrates the inevitable conflicts, with the “common good” being the favored standard to achieve. Thus, sin is the worst of all possible concepts, it must be relegated to the trash bin of burnt ashes.

Intuition beats our brains telling that this way is NOT SO . . . The enmity that people exhibit is directly just as much on ourselves and to those that irritate and annoy. No placebo brings relief or provides a remedy, but often wears the vespers for the dead. The deceased still walk and talk, but have no life within their souls. The alienation continues, because hubris grows. Evil is explained away as a fault in others, as denial in our own nature increases. The secular society becomes more ludicrous, as the political establishment institutionalizes corruption and perfects depravity. All the time we are told we should be happy.

Does this way of life make sense? If you are sane, you must acknowledge the alienation. The Existential Theologian accepts reality, while operating under faith. That essence is a hard swallow for some, while others are able to embrace the expectation. A Christian Existentialist believes in a revealed HOPE. His alienation is temporal and temporary. The skeptic may be an agnostic, and a work in progress. But the atheist is a relativist of the highest order. The ultimate evil results of a political system based upon such a philosophy is the supreme inevitability.

SARTRE - July 20, 2003

posted by SARTRE at 7/20/2003 |

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