Limit Approaching Zero

I’m fair­ly well read in exis­ten­tial­ist lit­er­a­ture, I still buy into por­tions of it, for they allow great strength to be present with­in an indi­vid­ual, there­by strength­en­ing myself.

But as with all things in me, there is an inevitable back­lash. Although I am not quite sure this one is a true back­lash or mere­ly anoth­er spin.

Instead of free­dom of choice in the world, we are total­ly lim­it­ed by that very free­dom.

My under­stand­ing of exis­ten­tial­ism, is that, though the world is inher­ent­ly mean­ing­less, we as humans, have the abil­i­ty to cre­ate our own mean­ing for our­selves with­in the world, thus giv­ing our­selves con­trol over our lives.

But this series of choic­es has anoth­er side. If I make a choice, by its def­i­n­i­tion, I have also exclud­ed oth­er choic­es, there­by lim­it­ing my own exis­tence. How­ev­er, if I make no choice [in and of itself still a choice], I remain stag­nant and lim­it myself in that way.

An exam­ple:

You are in a room with two doors. You can go through one of them, or you can go through the oth­er [sound a bit like the Matrix: Reloaded, or the Lady and the Tiger?], or you can go through nei­ther and remain in the room. These are your choic­es.

If you choose to go through one door, you exclude going through the oth­er, and exclude choos­ing nei­ther, you have lim­it­ed your choic­es, and moved for­ward.

It works the same with the oth­er door.

If no choice is made, you just remain, and are lim­it­ed to the cur­rent set of choic­es.

So it should be unde­ni­able, if a per­son is con­cerned with progress mak­ing a deci­sion and mov­ing for­ward is prefer­able to remain­ing still.

Yet each deci­sion cuts off the pos­si­bil­i­ties that oth­er choic­es could have made. Thus, the abil­i­ty to choose the path you fol­low, the exis­ten­tial­ist free­dom of mean­ing, con­tains with­in it a para­dox. You choose what path not not to fol­low as well. This free­dom, con­sid­ered the ulti­mate free­dom [by me at least], is lim­it­ing.

In any case, we are bound by forces out­side of our con­trol. Since we all die, this lim­it­ing free­dom is only some­thing that is as extant as our mind.

Meta­physics is a whole dif­fer­ent ball­game.

c’est la vie.

2 Replies

  • you raise a good point, and i should clar­i­fy.
    for me “progress” does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean things are bet­ter than before. that def­i­n­i­tion seems to cre­ate more prob­lems than it solves. “mov­ing for­ward” is a bet­ter descrip­tion, but again some­times “mov­ing back­ward” could be an equal­ly appro­pri­ate phrase. “mov­ing” by itself does not suf­fice, because some­thing could move orbital­ly, and essen­tial­ly not change.

    change is the cri­te­ria for my kind of “progress” the idea that “things are dif­fer­ent now [not bet­ter or worse, just dif­fer­ent] because of my action/choice” is what i was try­ing to get at.

  • i think the “unde­ni­able” part of your argu­ment, the thing about “progress,” is a dif­fi­cult thing to grasp exact­ly. it’s maybe a bit “west­ern” to think that “mov­ing for­ward” equals “progress.” i may pre­fer action to inac­tion, but as you men­tion, inac­tion is also an action in a sense. per­haps action helps me believe i’m in charge and that i am mak­ing some kind of progress through delib­er­ate choic­es, but i don’t see any rea­son why there would be an auto­mat­ic guar­an­tee for progress in a mean­ing­ful sense sim­ply because i am mov­ing through a par­tic­u­lar door. or rather, maybe i am just won­der­ing if “progress” is a word describ­ing some­thing mov­ing for­ward, and ques­tion­ing whether the word means any­thing more than that (as in “bet­ter than before”).

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