Existentialist marginalia

Written in the margin of David Cooper’s Existentialism: A Reconstruction:

Uniting an agential plurality [intuitive swarm]…

  • self

…Within a transcendent, partially comprehended matrix

  • dialogical
  • social
  • worldly
  • cosmic
  • divine

…As a participant, participating in a transcendent whole [of some scope].

We know transcendence solely through our participation in transcendent matrices.

Some additional random comments:

  • Perplexity is participatory. The resolution of a perplexity is finding one’s mode of participation, then reflecting on that participation to produce knowledge helpful for guiding participation in the future. Reflection prior to participatory resolution renders the perplexity insoluble. All original philosophy is reflection on successful participation in what began as perplexity. Anyone who wishes to be a thinker, but who balks before perplexity and refuses to enter and participate are — whether they acknowledge it or nor — constrained to combinatory novelties.
  • Polycentric design (including service design) is design of participatory systems, and a participatory existentialism is the optimal philosophical approach to polycentric design praxis. Or to say it less opaquely: service designers are best served thinking and acting as existentialists. Sadly, I have met almost no young designers capable of Existential modes of thought. They are all, with few exceptions, naive-scientistic technocrats, who use ethical rationalizations to justify totalistic societal control. It is, in fact, very similar to the alienated mindset of the public that so alarmed the early Existentialists in the years preceding WWII, and set Existentialism in motion.
  • From a Gen X perspective, generations can be characterized by their relationship to Existentialism.
  • People are essentially how they think. Few people take responsibility for how they think, and therefore are accidents of society. These people, if they think at all, invariably insist that this is true for all people. This, however, is a transparent attempt to alleviate their shame by universalizing it. The shame and the pain of their failure to develop selfhood is their own responsibility. Refusal to bear responsibility for this failure intensifies the shame and pain, along with the inclination to blame others for it. The obvious anomie, distress, despair, disorientation and consequent self-harming behaviors of children is often interpreted by parents as caused by a doomed world full of oppression and hate, when in fact it is the very philosophy held by the parents, taught to the children through their own words and actions, that is the root cause of the pain.
  • Our culture is philosophically diseased. Behind our political conflicts, our mental health pandemics (many of which are “cured” through normalizing reclassification), and our incapacity to collaborate to solve problems together is philosophical dysfunction. But part of that dysfunction is the view that philosophy is speculative and irrelevant to practical life, which precludes the only cure. Existentialism (and Pragmatism) can help cure this disease.

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