Existentialism 3: Being Alone

Existentialism 3: Being Alone

Robleh Wais 11/21/09

Previously we discussed the absurd as a conception in Existentialism and the nature of consciousness, and how that defines us as individuals. Now, I'd like to go further and examine how, not only our minds prevent us from identifying with anyone other than ourselves, but how our physical states of being make it impossible to know or be another person as we are to ourselves. I will start with sex to illustrate what I mean by it being impossible to know or be another as we are to ourselves.

I am a man. I have physical experiences like any other man or woman. I feel pain when hurt, or fear when threatened, and sorrow when grieved. But, there are, a host of physical experiences as a man that are closed to me and open to a woman. Specifically, I can't know personally what it feels like to have a menstrual period. I can't know what a vaginal organ feels like as a part of my body constitute. I can't know what an orgasmic experience feels like to a woman in passion. And why can't I? I can't simply because of my physical structure. I have no ovary organs, and thus can't know what discharge from them can mean periodically. The same can be said for the succeeding statements. On the flip side, no woman can know what it feels like to a man to ejaculate sperm, or sense an erection of his penis, or the prostate pain for a man afflicted with prostate cancer. We as sexes are separated by our physical state of being. Yet, we can mentally understand these experiences if they are explained to us. But, we NEVER really know through the most certain way; the bodily sensation as the subject does. This is not surprising, we all tacitly know what I've described is true. But, what should be revealing is our being in sexually differing bodies, absolutely separates us from each as conscious beings. Here are more sexual differences to see how we are alone in physical experience. Similarly, I can't know what it feels like to place breasts in a bra as most women never know what it feels like for a man to touch his chin feel the facial hair growth and shave it. I know some women do have secondary male genetic characteristics but that's very rare. I can't know what it feels like to urinate through a urinary canal above a vaginal orifice and women can't feel the sensation of urinating through the urethra of a penis. I am not making these points to be vulgar, but to illustrate the necessary state of being that the differing sexes are trapped in as human beings. These physical states of being separate us as persons.

When a person is dying, we the living can never know what that person is feeling. We will never know until we ourselves die. And this experience is most telling of all about our limited nature as beings. For even in our passage to death we never finally know how we died, just as we never knew how we came to be alive. Death separates us by definition from life. This experience is paradoxical because it is undefined for the person experiencing it.He or she can never wake back up and say: Well you know it was damn painful as Hell, but then well then I was what? Even with this rather bizarre snippet I can't describe what the end of life is like. What does this mean, I ask rhetorically? Of course it means yet another physical experience is close to us as we transit through our lives. It is also the most alone experience we will ever have.No one can get inside your body and die with you. You do this last act solo for sure.

Then the deep thinkers among us might ask: why can't we be in a human union that would be able to transcend our physical natures? Wouldn't this bring us closer as a species and allow us to achieve a sense of totality as conscious beings?Yet, we can't--which plays right into the Existentialists hands.It's another exemplification of the absurdity of evolutionary development of life forms on this planet. We have diverged in our physical constitutions over many hundreds of millions of years. Conversely, we have converged in our mental capacities as different sexes over this period. So, we can conceptually understand one another but not experience one another's bodies.

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