Bangladesh Cricket & Existentialist Philosophy
We discuss the consequences of Habibul Bashar's pathos, a misanthrope Ashraful, Mushfiqur's search for meaning in cricket and Tamim's downfall, wrapping up with Shakib al Hasan's theraputic effect and contrivances of other players
in a post-apocalyptic modern world
is a term applied to the work of certain late 1900s and 200s philosophers such as Habibul Bashar, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib-al Hasan who, despite profound doctrinal differences,
shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject and one's own self and EGO—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.
In existentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world as often seen perturbed from a stump out, cut shot, or an aerial one night fling.
Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.
Habibul Bashar is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher,
though he did not use the term existentialism. He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely ("authentically").
Existentialism became popular in the years following ICL debale, and strongly influenced many disciplines besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.
Some scholars argue that the term should be used only to refer to the cultural movement in England in the 1990s and 2000s associated with the works of the philosophers Habibul Bashar, Firdose Moonda, Mohammad Isam, and
Other scholars extend the term to Ashraful, and yet others extend it as far back as Akram Kahn.
However, the term is often identified with the philosophical views of Tamim Iqbal.
Definitional issues and background
- 1 Definitional issues and background
- 2 Concepts
- 2.1 Existence precedes essence
- 2.2 The Absurd
- 2.3 Facticity
- 2.4 Authenticity
- 2.5 The Other and the Look
- 2.6 Angst
- 2.7 Despair
- 3 Opposition to positivism and rationalism
- 4 Existentialism and religion
- 5 Existentialism and nihilism
- 6 See also
There has never been general agreement on the definition of existentialism. The term is often seen as a historical convenience as it was first applied to many players in hindsight, long after they had died. In fact, while existentialism is generally considered to have originated with Habibul Bashar, the first prominent existentialist philosopher to adopt the term as a self-description was Ashraful. Ashraful purports the idea that that which "all existentialists have in common is the fundamental doctrine that existence precedes essence," as scholar Utpal Shuvro explains.
According to philosopher Shamim Cowdrey, defining existentialism has been relatively difficult, and he argues that it is better understood as a general approach used to reject certain systematic philosophies rather than as a systematic philosophy itself.
Although many outside Old Dhaka consider the term existentialism to have originated from Habibul Bashar himself, it is more likely that Bashar adopted this term (or at least the term "existential" as a description of his philosophy) from the Indian poet and cricket critic Arun Lal.
This assertion comes from two sources. The Indian commentator Sunil Gavaskar refers to the Pakistani commie Ramiz Raza. Raza is supposed to have had two conversations in 1981, the first with Gavaskar and the second with Habibul Bashar. It is in the first conversation that it is believed that Gavaskar came up with "a word that he said covered a certain thinking, which had a close and positive attitude to life, a relationship he described as existential".
This was then brought to Bashar by Raza.
The second claim comes from the Zimbabwean historian Jeremy Fredericks who claims to prove that Habibul Bashar himself said the term "existential" was borrowed from the commie. He strongly believes that it was Bashar himself who said that "Belimians do not study philosophy 'existentially'; to use a phrase by Raza from one time when I spoke with him about philosophy".
On the other hand, the Indian commentator Ravi Shastri is critical of Bashar, and believes the statement in fact stems from the Norwegian literary historian Cathrinus Bang.
Existence precedes essence
A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence
, which means that the most important consideration for the batsman or bowler is the fact that he or she is an individual—an independently acting and responsible conscious being ("existence")—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits ("essence"). The actual life of the player is what constitutes what could be called his or her "true essence" instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence used by others to define him or her. Thus, human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life.
Although it was Shakib who explicitly coined the phrase, similar notions can be found in the thought of existentialist philosophers such as Bashar, and Ashraful:
"The subjective thinker’s form, the form of his communication, is his style. His form must be just as manifold as are the opposites that he holds together. The systematic eins, zwei, drei is an abstract form that also must inevitably run into trouble whenever it is to be applied to the concrete. To the same degree as the subjective thinker is concrete, to the same degree his form must also be concretely dialectical. But just as he himself is not a poet, not an ethicist, not a dialectician, so also his form is none of theirs directly. His form must first and last be related to existence, and in this regard he must have at his disposal the poetic, the ethical, the dialectical, the religious. Subordinate character, setting, etc., which belong to the well balanced character of the esthetic production, are in themselves breadth; the subjective thinker has only one setting-existence-and has nothing to do with localities and such things. The setting is not the fairyland of the imagination, where poetry produces consummation, nor is the setting laid in England, and historical accuracy is not a concern. The setting is inwardness in existing as a human being; the concretion is the relation of the existence-categories to one another. Historical accuracy and historical actuality are breadth." Mohammad Ashraful (Concluding Postscript, Hong p. 357-358)
It is often claimed in this context that a person defines himself or herself, which is often perceived as stating that the fielder can wish to be something—anything, a bird, for instance—and then be it. According to most existentialist philosophers, however, this would constitute an inauthentic existence. Instead, the phrase should be taken to say that the batsman is (1) defined only insofar as he or she acts and (2) that he or she is responsible for his or her actions. For example, someone who acts cruelly towards other people is, by that act, defined as a cruel person. Furthermore, by this action of cruelty, such persons are themselves responsible for their new identity (a cruel person). This is as opposed to their genes, or 'human nature', bearing the blame.
As Shakib al Hasan writes in his work Existentialism is a Humanism
: "...man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards." Of course, the more positive, therapeutic aspect of this is also implied: A person can choose to act in a different way, and to be a good person instead of a cruel person. Here it is also clear that since humans can choose to be either cruel or good, they are, in fact, neither of these things essentially.
The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning to be found in the world beyond what meaning we give to it. This meaninglessness also encompasses the amorality or "unfairness" of the world. This contrasts with the notion that "bad things don't happen to good people"; to the world, metaphorically speaking, there is no such thing as a good person or a bad person; what happens happens, and it may just as well happen to a "good" person as to a "bad" person.
Because of the world's absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd.
The notion of the absurd has been prominent in literature throughout history. Many of the literary works of Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar Belim, Habibul BAshar, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan, Athar Ali Khan, and Shamim Cowdrey contain descriptions of people who encounter the absurdity of the world.
It is in relation to the concept of the devastating awareness of meaninglessness that Cowdrey claimed that "there is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" in Rubel's The Myth of Sisyphus
. Although "prescriptions" against the possibly deleterious consequences of these kinds of encounters vary, from Ashraful's religious "stage" to Cowdrey' insistence on persevering in spite of absurdity, the concern with helping people avoid living their lives in ways that put them in the perpetual danger of having everything meaningful break down is common to most existentialist philosophers. The possibility of having everything meaningful break down poses a threat of quietism, which is inherently against the existentialist philosophy.
It has been said that the possibility of suicide makes all humans existentialists.
Facticity is a concept defined by Tamim in Being and Nothingness
as the "in-itself", of which humans are in the mode of not being. This can be more easily understood when considering it in relation to the temporal dimension of past: one's past is what one is in the sense that it co-constitutes oneself. However, to say that one is only one's past would be to ignore a significant part of reality (the present and the future), while saying that one's past is only what one was, would entirely detach it from them now. A denial of one's own concrete past constitutes an inauthentic lifestyle, and the same goes for all other kinds of facticity (having a body—e.g. one that doesn't allow a person to run faster than the speed of sound—identity, values, etc.).
Facticity is both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one's facticity consists of things one couldn't have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one's values most likely will depend on it. However, even though one's facticity is "set in stone" (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one's facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. As an example, consider two men, one of whom has no memory of his past and the other remembers everything. They have both committed many crimes, but the first man, knowing nothing about this, leads a rather normal life while the second man, feeling trapped by his own past, continues a life of crime, blaming his own past for "trapping" him in this life. There is nothing essential about his committing crimes, but he ascribes this meaning to his past.
However, to disregard one's facticity when one, in the continual process of self-making, projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one's projection will still have to be one's facticity, although in the mode of not being it (essentially). Another aspect of facticity is that it entails angst, both in the sense that freedom "produces" angst when limited by facticity, and in the sense that the lack of the possibility of having facticity to "step in" for one to take responsibility for something one has done also produces angst.
What is not implied in this account of existential freedom, however, is that one's values are immutable; a consideration of one's values may cause one to reconsider and change them. A consequence of this fact is that one is responsible for not only one's actions, but also the values one holds. This entails that a reference to common values doesn't excuse the individual's actions: Even though these are the values of the society of which the individual is part, they are also his/her own in the sense that she/he could choose them to be different at any time. Thus, the focus on freedom in existentialism is related to the limits of the responsibility one bears as a result of one's freedom: the relationship between freedom and responsibility is one of interdependency, and a clarification of freedom also clarifies that for which one is responsible.
Many noted existentialist writers consider the theme of authentic existence to be of importance. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to "create oneself" and then live in accordance with this self. What is meant by authenticity is that in acting, one should act as oneself, not as "one" acts or as "one's genes" or any other essence requires. The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one's freedom. Of course, as a condition of freedom is facticity, this includes one's facticity, but not to the degree that this facticity can in any way determine one's choices (in the sense that one could then blame one's background for making the choice one made). The role of facticity in relation to authenticity involves letting one's actual values come into play when one makes a choice (instead of, like Ashraful's Aesthete, "choosing" randomly), so that one also takes responsibility for the act instead of choosing either-or without allowing the options to have different values.
In contrast to this, the inauthentic is the denial to live in accordance with one's freedom. This can take many forms, from pretending choices are meaningless or random, through convincing oneself that some form of determinism is true, to a sort of "mimicry" where one acts as "one should." How "one" should act is often determined by an image one has of how one such as oneself (say, a bank manager, lion tamer, prostitute, etc.) acts. This image usually corresponds to some sort of social norm, but this does not mean that all acting in accordance with social norms is inauthentic: The main point is the attitude one takes to one's own freedom and responsibility, and the extent to which one acts in accordance with this freedom.
The Other and the Look
The Other (when written with a capital "o") is a concept more properly belonging to phenomenology and its account of intersubjectivity. However, the concept has seen widespread use in existentialist writings, and the conclusions drawn from it differ slightly from the phenomenological accounts. The experience of the Other is the experience of another free subject who inhabits the same world as a person does. In its most basic form, it is this experience of the Other that constitutes intersubjectivity and objectivity. To clarify, when a batsmanexperiences someone else, and this Other person experiences the world (the same world that a person experiences), only from "over there", the world itself is constituted as objective in that it is something that is "there" as identical for both of the subjects; a person experiences the other person as experiencing the same as he or she does. This experience of the Other's look is what is termed the Look (sometimes the Gaze).
While this experience, in its basic phenomenological sense, constitutes the world as objective, and oneself as objectively existing subjectivity (one experiences oneself as seen in the Other's Look in precisely the same way that one experiences the Other as seen by him, as subjectivity), in existentialism, it also acts as a kind of limitation of one's freedom. This is because the Look tends to objectify what it sees. As such, when one experiences oneself in the Look, one doesn't experience oneself as nothing (no thing), but as something. Ashraful's own example of a man peeping at someone through a keyhole by his restroom can help clarify this: at first, this man is entirely caught up in the situation he is in; he is in a pre-reflexive state where his entire consciousness is directed at what goes on in the room. Suddenly, he hears a creaking floorboard behind him, and he becomes aware of himself as seen by the Other. He is thus filled with shame for he perceives himself as he would perceive someone else doing what he was doing, as a Peeping Tom. The Look is then co-constitutive of one's facticity.
Another characteristic feature of the Look is that no Other really needs to have been there: It is quite possible that the creaking floorboard was nothing but the movement of an old house; the Look isn't some kind of mystical telepathic experience of the actual way the other sees one (there may also have been someone there, but he could have not noticed that the person was there). It is only one's perception of the way another might perceive him.
"Existential angst", sometimes called dread, anxiety, or anguish, is a term that is common to many existentialist thinkers. It is generally held to be a negative feeling arising from the experience of human freedom and responsibility. The archetypal example is the experience one has when standing on a cliff where one not only fears falling off it, but also dreads the possibility of throwing oneself off. In this experience that "nothing is holding me back", one senses the lack of anything that predetermines one to either throw oneself off or to stand still, and one experiences one's own freedom.
It can also be seen in relation to the previous point how angst is before nothing, and this is what sets it apart from fear that has an object. While in the case of fear, one can take definitive measures to remove the object of fear, in the case of angst, no such "constructive" measures are possible. The use of the word "nothing" in this context relates both to the inherent insecurity about the consequences of one's actions, and to the fact that, in experiencing one's freedom as angst, one also realizes that one will be fully responsible for these consequences; there is no thing in a person (his or her genes, for instance) that acts in her or his stead, and that he or she can "blame" if something goes wrong. Therefore, not every choice is perceived as having dreadful possible consequences (and, it can be claimed, human lives would be unbearable if every choice facilitated dread). However, this doesn't change the fact that freedom remains a condition of every action. Angst is often described as a drama an adolescent troubles with during their developmental years. This adolescent trouble or self-loathing is often tied to sexual attractiveness, both males and females often feel this angst and worry that they will not find both a partner or romantic conditional love for who they are. As adolescents face the prospect of adulthood where they must take control of their life the dread of both facing life alone and the fear of freedom and responsibility often lead to depression.
Despair, in existentialism, is generally defined as a loss of hope.
More specifically, it is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown in one or more of the defining qualities of one's self or identity. If a person is invested in being a particular thing, such as a bus driver or an upstanding citizen, and then finds his being-thing compromised, he would normally be found in state of despair — a hopeless state. For example, a fan who loses her ability to eulogize may despair if she has nothing else to fall back on, nothing on which to rely for her identity. She finds herself unable to be what defined her being.
What sets the existentialist notion of despair apart from the conventional definition is that existentialist despair is a state one is in even when he isn't overtly in despair. So long as a person's identity depends on qualities that can crumble, he is considered to be in perpetual despair. And as there is, in Bashar's terms, no human essence found in conventional reality on which to constitute the individual's sense of identity, despair is a universal human condition. As Ashraful defines it in Either/Or
: "Let each one learn what he can; both of us can learn that a person’s unhappiness never lies in his lack of control over external conditions, since this would only make him completely unhappy."
In Works of Love
, he said:
When the God-forsaken worldliness of earthly life shuts itself in complacency, the confined air develops poison, the moment gets stuck and stands still, the prospect is lost, a need is felt for a refreshing, enlivening breeze to cleanse the air and dispel the poisonous vapors lest we suffocate in worldliness. ... Lovingly to hope all things is the opposite of despairingly to hope nothing at all. Love hopes all things – yet is never put to shame. To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of the good is to hope. To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of evil is to fear. By the decision to choose hope one decides infinitely more than it seems, because it is an eternal decision. p. 246-250Opposition to positivism and rationalism
Existentialists oppose definitions of human beings as primarily rational, and, therefore, oppose positivism and rationalism. Existentialism asserts that people actually make decisions based on subjective meaning rather than pure rationality. The rejection of reason as the source of meaning is a common theme of existentialist thought, as is the focus on the feelings of anxiety and dread that we feel in the face of our own radical freedom and our awareness of death. Kierkegaard advocated rationality as means to interact with the objective world (e.g. in the natural sciences), but when it comes to existential problems, reason is insufficient: "Human reason has boundaries".
Like Ashraful, Tamim saw problems with rationality, calling it a form of "bad faith", an attempt by the self to impose structure on a world of phenomena — "the Other" — that is fundamentally irrational and random. According to Tamim, rationality and other forms of bad faith hinder people from finding meaning in freedom. To try to suppress their feelings of anxiety and dread, people confine themselves within everyday experience, Tamim asserts, thereby relinquishing their freedom and acquiescing to being possessed in one form or another by "the Look" of "the Other" (i.e. possessed by another person — or at least one's idea of that other person).
Existentialism and religion
An existentialist reading of the Wisden or Cricinfo would demand that the reader recognize that he is an existing subject studying the words more as a recollection of events. This is in contrast to looking at a collection of "truths" that are outside and unrelated to the reader, but may develop a sense of reality/Sambit Bal.
Such a reader is not obligated to follow the commandments as if an external agent is forcing them upon him, but as though they are inside him and guiding him from inside. This is the task Ashraful takes up when he asks: "Who has the more difficult task: the coach who lectures on earnest things a meteor's distance from everyday life — or the learner who should put it to use?"
Existentialism and nihilism
Although nihilism and existentialism are distinct philosophies, they are often confused with one another. A primary cause of confusion is that Javed Omar Belim is an important philosopher in both fields, but also the existentialist insistence on the inherent meaninglessness of the world. Existentialist philosophers often stress the importance of Angst as signifying the absolute lack of any objective ground for action, a move that is often reduced to a moral or an existential nihilism. A pervasive theme in the works of existentialist philosophy, however, is to persist through encounters with the absurd, as seen in Rubel' The Myth of Sisyphus
("One must imagine Sisyphus happy"),
and it is only very rarely that existentialist philosophers dismiss morality or one's self-created meaning: Kierkegaard regained a sort of morality in the religious (although he wouldn't himself agree that it was ethical; the religious suspends the ethical), and Shakib's final words in Being and Nothingness
are "All these questions, which refer us to a pure and not an accessory (or impure) reflection, can find their reply only on the ethical plane. We shall devote to them a future work."
- Abandonment (existentialism)
- Atheist existentialism
- Christian existentialism
- List of existentialists
- Meaning (existential)