Monday, September 02, 2013

Feeling onself

"... although my body may fail the mind still is as fresh as since I was a child (or so I think)."

The idea that to life is to suffer has a subjective and a objective aspect. Whether my life is miserable or happy depends to a large extent also on the way I, the person who lives the life, see it. Some people are happy and optimistic by nature. Other people have a depressive and pessimistic character. Something can be done about this but not everything. On the other hand, according to Montaigne, whether a life was happy as a whole can be judged only once it has come to an end, for the final part of the drama of life can give yet a turn to the way we judge the life of the person concerned as a whole. The end of a life puts a life into perspective, as we can say. There is some truth in Montaigne’s view and maybe there is much truth in it, but is it the whole truth? I think it is the truth of history but it needs not to be the truth of the carrier of the life. To put it differently, we must make a distinction between the third person’s perspective or objective perspective of man and the first person’s perspective or subjective perspective. Despite what others say about me, during my life or after it, finally it is only the subjective perspective that counts for me. When I feel unhappy it is no help for me that other persons say that I am happy, how much truth there may be in it. And although other people may say that my life is happy as a whole, I (and any person whoever) live from moment to moment. I live in the now. With this I do not mean that I ramble from one subject to another and that I do not make any planning of my activities at all, like that I think only about getting food at the moment that I become hungry, so that I have no food at home just when I need it. But the way I feel, is always in the now. I can try to suppress my “true” feelings; I can try to cheer myself up, if necessary; good memories can make me happy and the future can make me worry; but all this takes always place in the now and is from the perspective of the now.
I wonder what these remarks have all to do with it, but I got these thoughts, when I read an observation by Schopenhauer, which says something that I had noticed already long ago: “… however old we become, we yet feel within that we are entirely the same as we were when we were young, nay, when we were still children”. This is typically a judgment from the first person’s perspective. For whatever other people say of me, and how much younger people (and older people, too) see me as “that old man” with his old-fashioned or weird ideas and habits, for me the present feeling of myself is and has already been during my whole life that I am the same person as I always was, at least mentally, for although my body may fail the mind still is as fresh as since I was a child (or so I think).

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