inquiry into existence
Thinking a lot lately about existence.
I'm familiar with 'cogito, ergo sum' and how, after most philosophical queries, one necessarily ends up at Descartes' famous conclusion.
(Real quick-my math teacher in high school would refer to Descartes as "Dis-cartees". He was being serious.)
Indeed, it is tough for us to imagine a world in which we don't exist.
And I'm not ready to tackle whether or not we would 'exist' if we didn't think we did.
That being said, I am more interested right now in answering the question:
does our existence matter? Or, for all intents and purposes, does what we do matter?
I've always had a deeper feeling about my actions.
Liken it to Karma or the Golden Rule, whatever, but I can never escape that feeling of 'pay it forward.' And not only between other humans and myself, but also myself vis-a-vis all living creatures and our planet. I've always just tried to do 'good.'
Similarly, I tend to find 'good' in every situation.
Not Panglossian optimism, mind you, but more an appreciation for what 'life' brings. Indeed, everytime I learn something new, I label that as 'good,' and inside me arises a 'positive' feeling. This can get rather 'ridiculous' as I've even felt appreciation for the lessons learned by 'bad' things such as The Holocaust.
In a recent discussion, a question arose:
Could we have just made it all up based on the instinctually survivalist notion of self-preservation? Our religions, our jobs, our rules, even seemingly sincere things like heroism (underlying basic premise that the human race must survive) and love (need to feel complete rather than alone)?
Rationally speaking, yes. I can see this argument holding weight. Nothing can really be 'good' or 'bad' because it just 'is.' Also, according to this view, there is no such thing as 'good' or 'bad' ramifications of behavior. Karma doesn't exist and it doesn't matter if I drive a gas guzzler.
(I should point out that this possible reality isn't necessarily a 'bad' thing either.)
But how do I explain my feelings of 'good' mentioned above? If they don't really exist, how can I feel them? And, should I feel them and should I be doing things for the 'greater good'?
Or, rather, should I be living a life whose purpose may not actually be real?
(I'm sure there will be discussion of existentialism here, which is fine if it's not just based on nomenclature).
I'm careful not to enter a purely cynical camp of 'nothing matters.' At least not right now.
For starters, I can't change that I naturally feel these things. Indeed, I can say confidently that I'm a "hopeless romantic" of sorts and it wouldn't follow to simply shun my feelings.
Secondly, I'd rather explore further the origins and reasons for these feelings before I just conclude that they don't exist or matter.
Or, on the other hand, that they do exist or matter.
Of course, until then, I'll err on the side I've been living on.