Mike Anyayahan Level 03
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Posts by Mike Anyayahan

    I don't think essence here is Platonic. It's CREATIVE. In other words, what's being said here is that first we have our material / social conditions (existence), and then we develop our characters and choices over those conditions as we gain responsibility for creating ourselves and our lives (essence, which is our creation to a great extent).

    Hiram Yes. Essence here in the core statement (Existence precedes essence) is not Platonic since the word has already been demoted from being the subject to becoming the object in the sentence. It is superfluous to bother ourselves extracting the metaphysical essence of "essence." The statement only asserts the primacy of existence over essence. Therefore, the Platonic concept of essence has been broken here.

    Although "illusion" probably works, would it be also proper to say that "essence" is simply a construct of the human mind, and has no independent existence apart from being a human construction?

    Cassius That's exactly how existentialists understand it since "essence" has already been demoted in the core statement. And this is also the reason why I mentioned that existentialism is sitting on the shoulder of a giant. That giant is none other than Epicurus who had already taught such idea long long long before existentialism (as we now know it) ever existed.

    Cassius The definition makes sense. The main idea that describes "essence" is that it is prior to existence. Perhaps, the only way for existentialists to reject it is to say that "essence" is posterior, and "existence" prior. It is because redefining it would only mean the posterior is a different concept, not the one they are rejecting and putting behind.


    You're right in your observation that Aristotle merely transferred the location. For Plato, there is essence of something before it exists. For Aristotle, you will know that essence when you sense two or more of such things. Voila! It's the same essence. For Plato, it is abstract. For Aristotle, it is objectified.


    However, existentialists reject abstraction and objectification. They are highly relativist and subjectivist. Therefore, essence in existentialism is nothing but a metaphorical representation of such rejection.


    The statement that "existence precedes essence" was coined by Jean Paul Sartre. If you get used to his style of writing, you will notice he loves turning statement upside down like "I am what I am not," "I am not what I am."


    By rejecting the essentialist position that "essence precedes existence," it's no surprise that Sartre's response is to turn the statement upside down, thus he says "existence precedes essence."


    He is not like the conventional philosophers who are taking time abstracting and objectifying the meaning of every word since he doesn't believe in abstraction and objectification.


    I think it's enough to say that existence precedes essence to reject the primacy of essence. As I understood it, the primacy of existence only means that every essence is just an illusion.

    I guess there are some considerations we should take when comparing Epicureanism and existentialism in order to avoid confusion as existentialism is not a philosophical system but a movement - movement not in the "organizational sense" but "in the sense that there is a revolution of thought against something". The latter is what I refer to being in comparison with Epicureanism.


    Existentialism does not necessarily mean nihilism. However, there are nihilists that are existentialists. There are also nihilists that are not existentialists.. Example of them is Michel Focault. He is not an existentialist as he doesn't believe that we have a freedom of choice. However, he is a nihilist as he rejects not only the value of history but also the role of science along with morality and knowledge. The known existentialist-nihilist is Albert Camus whose presentation of the Myth of Sisyphus tells us that everything is nothing and we can't do anything about it.


    Contrary to what many believe, Nietzsche is not a nihilist. He only rejects slave morality and the superstition of Christianity, yet he clearly expresses the importance of will.


    Nihilism is the rejection of will. Existentialism emphasizes it.


    Among the existentialists, Nietzsche, Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir are the ones that give emphasis on free will. De Beauvoir said that we are condemned to make choices.


    In the case of Epicureanism, free will is expressed in the theory of the Swerve and in the rejection of the fear of God and worries about death. Hadn't Epicurus believed in free will, he wouldn't have probably introduced the importance of prudence.


    The core philosophy of existentialism is that "existence precedes essence". I don't think Epicurus would reject such statement. In fact (whether we like it or not) Epicurus was the first to have told the world about that idea.

    Cassius Thanks for a warm welcome. Let me introduce myself then.


    I'm Mike Anyayahan from the Philippines. I'm a freelance writer and a blogger. I studied Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.


    I currently live in Iloilo City, just south of the Philippines. I'm married and a father of two lovely girls.


    My background in Epicurean philosophy is a product of my complex intellectual development from being a hard-line Marxist communist, to being a Socratic skeptic, then to becoming a Sartrean post-modern existentialist. I did not get into Epicureanism out of nothing. (Well, nothing comes out of nothing. :) ) It was my existentialist distaste of absolutism that led me to dig more on the question of free will.


    As a result, I re-evaluated all my ideological inclinations and questioned my own mode of thoughts. Along the way when I re-examined Marx's doctoral dissertation on Epicurus, I suddenly became curious about Epicurean philosophy.


    While studying Epicurus, I came across Stoicism and entertained the Stoic philosophy in my thoughts for a while. Then I found myself in a dialectic process between Epicureanism and Stoicism.


    But in the end, Epicurenism won my mind and my heart as I found Stoicism lacking in terms of authenticity (I do not say they are hypocrites ;)).


    I became a self-declared Epicurean just a month ago.


    So far, the Epicurean texts I have read are the Letter to Menoeceus, The Principal Doctrines, The Vatican Sayings, and the Book 1 of On Ends by Cicero. I am still in the process of reading Lucretius' On the Nature of Things.


    I am thankful you provided me a list of works to read. I have not yet read some of them so the above list is truly of great help.


    I found the group Epicurean philosophy because it appeared on the sidebar of my FB news feed as suggested group. Perhaps, the algorithm has recognized me as Epicurean based on my posts. Through this, we met, and I became a member here. It's my pleasure to be here.


    I m looking forward to becoming Epicurean friends with you guys. Thanks a lot. :)