Scandal of Existence / Existentialism

No one has ever resisted the beginning of his own existence; indeed, it is impossible to imagine how such a thing would be possible. It is only possible to wish that one had never been once it is too late for the wish to come true. But a certain metaphysical scandal inheres, nonetheless, in the existence of every human being: namely, in the fact that he did not begin to exist autonomously. With the rise of Existentialism there emerges a philosophical tendency which attempts to draw our attention fraudulently away from this scandal inherent in our own existence by declaring the individual to be essentially a product of his own freedom. But even >Sartre’s famous phrase “we are condemned to be free” faintly betrays the underlying truth that we did not choose our own existence: we are only unfreely free.  

In this regard Hans Blumenberg succeeds in bringing out the fact that “human self-experience of our own facticity shows that it is – or could be, indeed must be – a fundamental vexation to every one of us that he was never consulted in this most important matter of his own self-determination. Existentialism has tried to remedy this problem by declaring each individual to be the product of his own freedom. Existence (so it is claimed) means: to be causa sui ipsius. But what is being raised here to the status of a form of human dignity is, in reality, no more than a renunciation, a passive acceptance of the inevitable.” (Blumenberg, Ein mögliches Selbstverständnis) Existentialism, then, generates its notion of human dignity only by devious and illegitimate means. If one traces out the logic of Blumenberg’s argument, then it is seen that human dignity, instead of being something sacrosanct and inalienable, is rather undermined from the very start by reason alone of human existence’s always being heteronomously brought about. Without himself being an antinatalist, Blumenberg promotes with this argument a certain existential >Disobedience.

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