Monday, October 22, 2012

Philosophical Gumbo a la Sean

It's not gumbo -- it's yumbo!
I've long held that I'm a self-professed postmodern existentialist christian mystic believer in absolute truth. Now, if you've studied philosophy at all, you'll know immediately that those are the kind of ingredients that make one strange and confusing soup in which the flavors don't actually complement each other.
If Descartes is seen as the father of modernism, then postmodernism is a variety of cultural positions which reject major features ... modern (the philosophical concept of modern, not the chronological necessarily) thought. Hence, views which, for example, stress the priority of the social to the individual; which reject the universalizing tendencies of philosophy; which prize irony over knowledge; and which give the irrational equal footing with the rational in our decision procedures all fall under the postmodern umbrella.

A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Christian Mysticism:
Mysticism is the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. In the Christian context this is usually practiced through prayer, meditation and contemplation. Christian mysticism aspires to apprehend spiritual truths inaccessible through intellectual means, typically by emulation of Christ. "If you're a Christian, you're on a tightrope. If you see yourself more as a "Christian mystic" you're on the tightrope but juggling bowling balls." -- from

Absolute Truth:
In general, absolute truth is whatever is always valid, regardless of parameters or context. The absolute in the term connotes one or more of: a quality of truth that cannot be exceeded; complete truth; unvarying and permanent truth. It can be contrasted to relative truth or truth in a more ordinary sense in which a degree of relativity is implied.

How can I believe and hold to all these conflicting tenets? Well, I guess it's that struggle that helps to make me who I am. 

All I know is that the postmodern in me rejects easy answers and attempts to deconstruct everything to find the "truth" beneath the composition (even though typically postmoderns reject the notion of truth with a capital "T." 

The existentialist in me acknowledges the isolation of the individuals and places great importance on living well in a world that seems to ignore us (at best) or downright antagonistic toward us (at worst). The living heroically in that world is the greatest human achievement, seeking to be responsible for standing up in the face of that isolation. 

The Christian mystic in me attempts to makes sense of this all through a relationship with God, and sees that those my existentialism makes the world seem apart and distant and uncaring, the God who created it isn't, that the postmodern who has become jaded and skeptical can ultimately find something solid and real once everything has been deconstructed and laid bare apart from all it's cultural context. 

And the believer in absolute truth in me gives me hope that there is something real, something firm that holds true, period, and that if I search for it, regardless of its name or what faith has tried to co-opt it, it will be there just as real for me as for everyone else who has the guts to put everything they believe at risk just to find it.

So, beneath the surface of my skin and psyche, all that mixture of philosophical gumbo is going on. And now you know me, the real me. The definition of me, at least in terms of my philosophical understanding of myself, the world, and my place in it. But, in spite of all the heady, self-important crap that is me, I like to watch TV, movies and read books and comics and play (I call it work most of the time) on my computer.

All this heady stuff, and I'm still a shallow wack job, huh? But you have to love me for it, right?

(Wait, don't leave. Please...)

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