Most of us live our lives, in this hectic modern world, as human DO-ings rather than human BE-ings. We are distracted, flitting from one sparkly thing to the next, like a bee moving urgently from flower to flower in search of pollen. The bee however has a bigger purpose, to return its food stash to the hive for the survival of its community. The bee has a purpose, a job to do. For the whole of its short life. the bee is paying attention; it is noticing, checking out every flower, intent on its goal.
We on the other hand, are so often channel surfing our way through life, flicking from one distraction to the next, the clock ticking, time passing as we fill it in, our finger busy on the remote. Have we forgotten our purpose? Forgotten how to BE?
According to Wikipedia [link to add https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being], “In philosophy, being means the existence of a thing….Being is a concept encompassing objective and subjective features of reality and existence.” My interest was piqued and down the rabbit hole I dove!
The question of BEing has been raised throughout the ages with many of the great minds in philosophy having something to say. When discussing BEing, Parmenides (1) said, “what is- is”. He then went on to describe that “nothing comes from nothing, therefore existence is eternal”. He believed that “change as perceived in everyday life is illusory”.
Heraclitus (2) continues this train of thought and wrote that reality does not exist, it flows, and BEings are an illusion upon the flow.
So what is, is an illusion, flowing eternally………..Then Aristotle (3) picks up the story when he describes BEing as “uniting what they actually are now with everything they might become”. This surely is about potential, the potential of an existence, the potential to evolve, grow or flow into something more than we once were?
So BEing is existence or essence; is-ness in space-time. BEing is described in the metaphysical, the transcendental; in Empiricism (4). The Rationalists (5) rank Beings into ‘the great chain of BEing; from God to dust’. The Idealists have a go at making sense of BEing, as do the Existentialists (6).
BEing, also described as ‘dasein’ links one’s sense of one’s body to one’s perception of the world. Surely our perception is shaped by our experience, our experience is our reality formed by the lenses we use by which to view the world. Experience is the reason two siblings, born and raised in the same family, barely a year apart, by the same parents, often recount a very different story of their childhood, one where you would swear, they simply couldn’t be siblings!
The lenses by which we view our experiences for the stories we tell, and from the stories grows our reality; and our perception of the world.
Plato (7), however, drags us up out of the philosophical rabbit-hole and states very simply that, “BEing is a form”.
Welcome to BEing!
- Parmenides https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmenides. Parmenides of Elea (/pɑːrˈmɛnɪdiːz … ˈɛliə/; Greek: Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; fl. late sixth or early fifth century BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia (Greater Greece, which included Southern Italy). Parmenides has been considered the founder of metaphysics or ontology and has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy.
- Heraclitus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus.Heraclitus of Ephesus (/ˌhɛrəˈklaɪtəs/; Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, translit. Hērákleitos ho Ephésios; (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus. Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice” (see panta rhei below). This is commonly considered to be a key contribution in the development of the philosophical concept of becoming, as contrasted with “being”, and has sometimes been seen in a dialectical relationship with Parmenides‘ statement that “whatever is, is, and what is not cannot be”.
- Aristotle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle.Aristotle (/ˈærɪˌstɒtəl/; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC)[A] was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the “Father of Western Philosophy“.
- Empiricism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism. In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. However, empiricists may argue that traditions (or customs) arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.[
- Rationalism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism.
- In the past, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, the term ‘rationalist’ was often used to refer to free thinkers of an anti-clerical and anti-religious outlook, and for a time the word acquired a distinctly pejorative force (thus in 1670 Sanderson spoke disparagingly of ‘a mere rationalist, that is to say in plain English an atheist of the late edition…’). The use of the label ‘rationalist’ to characterize a world outlook which has no place for the supernatural is becoming less popular today; terms like ‘humanist‘ or ‘materialist‘ seem largely to have taken its place. But the old usage still survives.
- Existentialists https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism.Existentialism (/ˌɛɡzɪˈstɛnʃəlɪzəm/) is the philosophical study that begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. While the predominant value of existentialist thought is commonly acknowledged to be freedom, its primary virtue is authenticity.[
- Plato https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato.Plato (/ˈpleɪtoʊ/; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] PLAH-tone in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle.[a] Plato has also often been cited as one of the founders of Western religion and spirituality.