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Tag: Existentialism

Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Wilson’s book is almost complete, but there are few more thinkers he wants to discuss, one of the most important being the great Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist, George Bernard Shaw. Wilson explains that, for himself, Shaw’s reputation will increase with time, until it is seen that his position in relation to Western thought is as important as that of Augustine or Aquinas to mediaeval thought. For me, the Outsider is the symbol of the whole problem of Western civilisation…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 14

Religion and the Rebel, Part 14

I began reading Søren Kierkegaard around 1990. I was part of the online community called GEnie back then, GE’s answer to Compuserve. We had a good group of thinkers there and we discussed philosophy and religion constantly. I had just recovered from two very painful back surgeries; I was on disability at the time, so I had plenty of time to read and write online. This is really where I fell in love with philosophy, and ultimately where I discovered…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 12

Religion and the Rebel, Part 12

Continuing with chapter three, Wilson makes a claim I don’t think I’ve ever heard before: All man’s experience is emotional experience. Even the mathematician, plunged in his calculations, is undergoing emotional experience. His intellectual activity is accompanied by a pleasure and an excitement that is emotional, and it is this that makes him pursue mathematics. An electronic brain takes no pleasure in its calculating. All life is continual emotional experience.1 I tend to think this energy we experience when we…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 11

Religion and the Rebel, Part 11

In his chapter on Blaise Pascal, Wilson begins describing the Outsider as “the obsessed man — obsessed with the problem of where he is going and who he is.” 1 Many geniuses begin as mediocre and banal individuals. Wilson offers the example of Gaugin: “Gaugin’s painting is great, not because Gaugin is a talented painter, but because he cared so much about painting that his comparative lack of talent (in the sense that Ingres had talent) is unimportant.” 2 The…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 9

Religion and the Rebel, Part 9

In the next section of Religion and Rebel, Wilson begins examining several important Outsiders, beginning with Jacob Boehme. I will not give lengthy biographical sketches of any of these men, as Wilson does. I am more interested in his presentation of the Outsider psychology, which begins with Boehme. With the mystic, Jacob Boehme, Wilson begins to dig into the material I am interested in: Boehme’s inner journeys. He begins by saying, “Boehme was one of the earliest psychologists.” 1 He…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 7

Religion and the Rebel, Part 7

Part Two of Religion and the Rebel begins with a crucial lesson we have learned concerning history: “Society must be held together by a discipline…” but “What discipline?” 1 Wilson believes that society should have a strong foundation of discipline that keeps things functioning smoothly, but yet allows room for the views of the Outsider. In fact, in such a society, there are no Outsiders, since the society is open enough to allow the views of all. The ones who…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 4

Religion and the Rebel, Part 4

  It is the moral question that becomes an existentialist question only by the depth of the attempt to answer it: What shall we do with our lives? The Outsider’s standards are unusually high. For him, ‘success’ and ‘failure’ have a completely new meaning. Ordinary ‘success’ seems particularly poisonous to him: the success of a film star or businessman or the author of a best seller. That is only a way of wading out into the world’s stupidity and losing…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 3

Religion and the Rebel, Part 3

The concept of hell is only important in so far as it points to a concept of heaven. The concept of insanity only matters because it is a step toward supersanity (48). In Religion and the Rebel, Wilson wants to define what he means by “heaven” and “supersanity,” but first he wants to get at the true meaning of Existenzphilosophie, or at least “the meaning that the Outsider attaches to it” (ibid.). This is a German word that means “the…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 2

Religion and the Rebel, Part 2

In the final two chapters of The Outsider, Wilson outlined several attempts at a positive solution to the Outsider’s problem. It is his plan in Religion and the Rebel to present a more complete answer. Just as a reminder, Wilson’s use of “religious” is not the typical dogmatic idea we have of the word. It is more akin to contacting the source of the sacred within oneself. The key to all religion, Wilson says, is “increased intensity of mind” (40)….

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 1

Religion and the Rebel, Part 1

Colin Wilson’s sequel to The Outsider, Religion and the Rebel, was published one year after his initial success. He lets us know immediately, in the opening sentence of the introduction, what his intentions are for this work: “The Outsider was an incomplete book” (1). Wilson says there were other ideas he wanted to deal with in Religion and the Rebel that he did not have the space for in The Outsider. He intends to “probe deeper into the Outsider himself,…

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