terça-feira, 5 de maio de 2015

Existentialist Values (by Robert Goodwin Olson)

“... Almost without exception the biographies of the great philosophers of the past reveal poignant personal tragedies. At an early age Plato was forced to abandon the political career for which he was by birth and social status destined, to sustain the loss through execution of his master and friend Socrates, and to go into exile from his beloved Athens. Later, his one practical political adventure, an effort to establish a sound and stable government in Syracuse, was a dismal failure. Epictetus was not only a slave by birth but was also lame. Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam where he had passed his early life, was obliged to earn his living in the tedious occupation of lens grinder, and died relatively young of consumption. Hegel was slow to mature as a philosopher, and although he finally achieved great popularity, his climb up the academic ladder was extremely laborious and frustrating. In his student days he was even subjected to the indignity of being told that he had no aptitude for philosophy.

Each of these men had strong personal reasons for doubting the possibility of self-fulfillment through wealth, fame and pleasure; and behind an often cold and impersonal mask traces of disappointment and bitterness are clearly discernible. If the die-hard ordinary man so choose, he could perhaps make out a plausible interpretation of the traditional philosophers’ value orientations as so many instances of sour grapes. The fact remains, however, that in the official expression of their ideas traditional philosophers tended to regard the values which they substituted for those of the ordinary man as sufficient to a complete and fully satisfying life. The sense of tragedy haunts their systems, but it does not ordinarily enter into them.”

(OLSON, Robert Goodwin. An introduction to existentialism. New York: Dover Publications, 1962, p. 13)