As we have been discussing Metaphysics, I have continually returned to Jean Paul Sartre’s invocation of the meeting of Existence and Essence:
“What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be.”
Now, Sartre was talking about people through an existential lens; but the concept may come to bear on what we’ve learned this week about learning and knowledge. Whether existence precedes essence, or the other way around, we have been engaged in activities and discussions this week that support either hypothesis.
Some of what we have learned has resolutely existed before we have put it into context for ourselves as essential. And some of what we are learning about existed in our minds as essences before it came into being on the board or the class blog.
Which makes me wonder:
- What is the essence of your knowledge about metaphysics? What have you discovered, learned or uncovered about the topic? And,
- How and where does it exist?
In short, these are the two questions of Metaphysics: What is…? And what is it like?
I look forward to hearing your responses, and continuing this discussion into Epistemology.