The two world wars in the 20th century were a hyper realistic shock to humanity, in general, and to philosophy – particularly.
Until then, philosophy was mainly divorced from its being and mission: which is finding the truth about human existence. It was locked in the prison of the abstract and intellectualism.
The hyper realistic shock of the 2 world wars and the demonic forces that gushed out during it – were so shocking that philosophy (by being responsible for the understanding of life at a given time) could not go on as before. At the meeting point of this wars and philosophy, existentialism (which could be called, also; radical individualism) was born.
Philosophy got connected again to reality (by the hyper realistic shock of the world wars) through concepts of existentialism, such as; the absurd, angst, being towards death, Existence precedes essence, The Übermensch, The death of God, Meaning of life, Social alienation, Emptiness, Importance of the individual, Importance of choice, Importance of personal relations, contingencies, being unauthentic and social criticism. But not like philosophy – life carried on as though the wars did not happen.
And great thinkers were born: Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard (a forerunner of existentialism), Friedrich Nietzsche (also a forerunner of existentialism), Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus‘ Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida. Martin Buber, Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
This existential philosophy was a blessing and revitalization of philosophy so far. But what happens to it today? It is almost gone. This stream in philosophy got categorized, and then was left outside our real personal life.
Now days, philosophy is stuck in the deadlock, of intellectualism.
So far about philosophy, but what about life? What kind of life people are living? Well, as was written, they repressed the issue of the world wars, and continuing further in their decline, namely: alienation and escapism.
Alienation: It is the lack of empathy and human warmth between people. The concept of alienation identifies a distinct kind of psychological or social ill; namely, one involving a problematic separation between a self and other that properly belong together. It is a great disease for individual human life. Human could not exist emotionally and psychologically – without the real care of the other, it cause one great pain, loneliness and depression. This illness is hidden, even from the closest soul. For It seems (in the collective mind) that if one feels alienated – than it is his own fault; something that he is not doing right. Alienation ‘protects’ us from being hurt by others, Sartre said that “Hell is Other People.” From his play, “No Exit.”, and this is exactly the reality (caused by alienation) we don’t want to face.
Escapism: A definition of it could be: the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.
From what does one escapes? From reality; from the way things really are, especially from the emotional dissonance that one feels when he meets realty – for this is not what we are being told life is like.
So, this two, alienation and escapism are the symptoms of being divorces from life’s reality.
So, in order to come back to reality – the only way is to use a hyper realistic shock; the double shock of the hyper realism – will bring those who received it back to the signal shock of realty. If a culture or society or an individual – are deep in escapist or alienated mentality – only a double shock might do the work of returning them to reality, meaning: the truth of one’s life and life in general.
When does the horror of the bursting out of demonic forces from the depth of the subconscious – happens, usually? It happens in a low point of humanity, at the time – It is the combination of two things: technological overall ruler ship and being stuck in combination of: intellectualism, alienation and escapism. And this were the catalysts for the demons to be bursting out.
Most of the dark forces came out of Germany. But this nation has got some of the greatest thinkers and composers of all times:
- Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) …
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) …
- Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) …
- Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) …
- Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) …
- Robert Schumann (1810-1856) …
- Richard Wagner (1813-1883) …
- Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).
1 Kant, the very first one. One of the greatest of all time.
2 Nietzsche, original, strong, influent thinker. A top writer on his own right.
3 Hegel, his philosophical reached the ultimate limits of thought.
4 Husserl, a mathematician, developed almost from scratch the phenomenology, one of the most influential philosophical schools in the last century.
5 Marx, changed forever the face of philosophy, and of the world.
6 Leibniz, universal sage, jurist, mathematician, philosopher, wrote in Latin, French, and German.
7 Eckhart, philosopher, theologian, mystic, founder of the German language.
8 Schopenhauer, idiosyncratic and powerful thinker.
9 Schelling, a philosophical genius; created five different philosophical systems.
10 Habermas, most influential postwar philosopher.
11 Martin Heidegger – probobly the greatest existential philosophere.
Surely, one could easily add another 10 names to this list. Just to mention a few: Cassirer, Fichte, Jaspers, Gadamer, Horkheimer, Dilthey, Cohen, Scheler, Gehlen, Natorp..
And what is the explanation for this? – Well, the greater is the talent and potential and even genius – the stronger and more powerful, the demons would get. A great person has an equally great demons or weaknesses, because both- greatness and the demons (or his weaknesses) – exist on the two ends of the same bar. When one end is dominant (greatness, also the demons or weakness grow in strength.
The shift from the high end to the low end – happens when technology takes over human life and the lowering of standards (that keeps the low at bay) – give way to alienation and escapism.
It is much easier to switch from the thesis (high end) to anti thesis (the shadow, the low end) – then from one of this two extremes to the sane middle. Extreme ends in one’s being are much closer to each other than any of them to the neutral middle.
A person with high or great potential must watch that he does not adopt the view of his demons/weaknesses, by the lowering of his standards, melting the boundaries (between high and low, in him) and not feeding your demons (and not feeding your shadows). he needs to keep his demons on low fire, not allowing them to take over. for then, his decline would be fast and disastrous.
And that is what happened to the German nation at World War 2.
What is perceived in German philosophers and composers – as a powerful penetration into, and revelations, about life – gave way to a horrifying and aggressive outbursts of the worst demons ever – the both world wars.
A link to the first part of this essay: