Since my library books and Amazon order haven’t arrived yet I started rereading David Cooper’s Existentialism last night. I picked this up at a table in the faculty building at Notre Dame many years ago. This was a very cool table. Profs would drop whatever books they no longer had a use for there for other profs [and piratical students like myself] to snatch. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about this table until my junior year, thereby missing two years of potentially awesome library building.
In any case, apart from a few copies of The New Yorker whose covers I coveted until I threw them out, this volume is the only one I can actually be certain came from the holy table. Coming as it did, post- my existentialist philosophy course, this book has served as a refresher since that day. Last night, the same section that always catches my eye caught my eye last night in the same section. If you use Amazon’s Search Inside This Book feature and go to page three you can read it for yourself and a bit more. I’ll still excerpt the critical point.
…to quote Kierkegaard again, ‘an existing individual is always in the process of becoming.’ …no complete account can be given of a human being without reference to what he is in the process of becoming. … “As Heidegger puts it, the human being is always ‘ahead of himself’, always unterwegs (“on the way”). …Unlike the stone, whose essence or nature is ‘given’, a person’s existence, writes Ortega y Gasset ‘consists not in what it is already, but what it is not yet…Existence…is the process of realizing…the aspiration we are.’
This is always a good reminder for me when I get frustrated about the difficulty in realizing my aspirations. As long as I exist, I’ll be in the process of becoming something new. Satisfaction and must arise from the journey while motivation must arise from the destination, even if never reached. That’s almost exactly the point of Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus.
My application and understanding of this idea doesn’t bind fully to a pure existentialism [which probably doesn’t exist], but it works well enough for me.