The Soldier and the Hunchback



Shall we get on any better if we investigate this Est — Something is — Existence is — אהיה אשר אהיה‎ ?
What is Existence? The question is so fundamental that it finds no answer. The most profound meditation only leads to an exasperating sense of impotence. There is, it seems, no simple rational idea in the mind which corresponds to the word.
It is easy of course to drown the question in definitions, leading us to further complexity — but
"Existence is the gift of Divine Providence,"
"Existence is the opposite of Non-Existence,"

do not help us much!

The plain Existence is Existence of the Hebrews goes farther. It is the most sceptical of statements, in spite of its form. Existence is just existence, and there's no more to be said about it; don't worry! Ah, but there is more to be said about it! Though we search ourselves for a thought to match the word, and fail, yet we have Berkeley's perfectly convincing argument that (so far as we know it) existence must mean thinking existence or spiritual existence.
Here then we find our Est to imply Cogitatur; and Berkeley's arguments are "irrefragable, yet fail to produce conviction" (Hume) because the Cogitatur; as we have shown, implies Est.
Neither of these ideas is simple; each involves the other. Is the division between them in our brain a proof of the total incapacity of that organ, or is there some flaw in our logic? For all depends upon our logic; not upon the simple identity A is A only, but upon its whole structure from the question of simple propositions, enormously difficult from the moment when it occurred to the detestable genius that invented "existential import" to consider the matter, to that further complexity and contradiction, the syllogism.

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