Abhiram Lohit


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What is the difference between "To be" and "To exist"?

I'm looking for a variety of views and opinions. No restrictions whatsoever.

Although I have my own view, I will not provide them here in fear of biasing others' views.

Come on all you philosophy (and non-philosophy) majors, wreak your havoc here :)

  • Jul 12 2011: Being is the state that being aware of your existence...
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    Jun 30 2011: One can exist and be nothing.
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      Jun 30 2011: But if you "be" nothing, can you "exist" as something?

      Are you saying that even after all accomplishments that define your identity, you can still be empty inside?
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        Jul 1 2011: Sure, one can exist and be something. On my comment I was giving just one possibility that will show the difference between existing and being.
        So, here is what I think about existing and being. One cannot be anything without existing first; but the one who exists might be something or be nothing. When one stops existing, if he is something, he keeps being so.
        Simply saying, existence is prerequisite for being, but being is optional, and can carry on alone after existence is over.
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    Jun 30 2011: To exist sounds like to live at a survival level but to be means you become self-actualised?
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      Jun 30 2011: That's an interesting variation. Thanks, Amily!

      What exactly do you mean by self-actualized?
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        Jul 1 2011: to be who you want to be or some may say to be who you are intented to be.

        "to exist" is a descripition of state while" to be" there is an inclination.
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    Jun 29 2011: That brings to mind a book I read entitled "To Have or To Be" again by Erich Fromm. If your intention is primarily to have, then likely you are using external things to bolster status. Same sort of principle. But to be is to fully develope your powers to serve, including yourself.
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      Jun 30 2011: Your view has application to the way our modern society views success, I think.

      You're saying "to be" means to develop yourself fully, but not extend the boundaries of yourself to collide with the boundaries of others or the environment or external things. So "to exist" means "to exploit"?
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    Jun 29 2011: To exist implies a completeness of self, whereas to be implies a merger of yourself with an external identity.

    You can BE a doctor
    a danger to society
    a damage soul

    but it is awkward to say you EXIST as a doctor,
    as a danger to society
    as a damage soul

    Way to be an agitator of good conversation and not just exist.
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      Jun 30 2011: So "to be" is a partially-dissolved self, but "to exist" means to completely come unto your own self?

      Does that imply that if you "be", then it's easier for you to do evil in society, but if you "exist", then it's harder to do evil?

      "Ex"-ist = "Ex"-pression.

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        Jun 30 2011: Sure but it makes it easier to be good as well.
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    Jul 29 2011: Anything and everything can "exist" being nothing, only human can decide "to be" something.
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    Jul 29 2011: "To exist," Ek-sistere, latin, meaning to "stand apart" We are each an existent, a unit of life, of awareness and love. Existence manifests itself in a myriad of life forms, and can generally be thought of as the proof of life. Where as "to be" is ontological, we talk about the quality of consciousness determining the quality of our doing.
    Perhaps we can say, there is no doing without being and there is no being without existence. But it aint so simple as that, is it?
  • Jul 27 2011: To be is to be a conscious being that is aware of its own existence. Some animals like primates (can't say all as not all animals have been studied to show self awareness) and children after 2yrs or so(according to certain Psychological studies on the self awareness of children) recognize their own existence.

    To exist, is merely just that--to exist. A rock can exist and things that lie in the "to be" category such as some living beings(beings that are not self aware), exist as a direct consequence of the premise "to be". "To be" logically presupposes "to exist". Can something be without it existing first***? Existence can be irrespective of any conscious beings. A realist (one who says that there is a physical world out there irrespective of our existence), would say that "to exist" means that everything can exist, irrespective of any conscious "observer".

    ***the counter question: can something exist, without it first "being"? You can't ask that question, as being has already been established as presupposing existence. You can't conclude that if A is a cause and B is an effect, that B comes before A, that's illogical. If anyone finds a flaw in my logic, please feel free to correct me as I am keen on improving and learning.

    This is however, based on our current knowledge of the world and reality. If tomorrow, it is proved that a conscious being, such as a human directly affects the Quantum behavior of matter, then we will be forced to conclude that conscious beings are the reason of existence as the way it is, and the universe exists because of this ethereal force of consciousness. So, then only conscious beings will be in the "to be" category and will be able to influence the "to exist" category.
  • Jul 25 2011: to be = to live.
    to exist = to be alive.
  • Jul 23 2011: To exist is the consequence of being born but to be implies a search of oneself, to be capable of enjoying life and to mean something for at least one human being.
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    Jul 1 2011: I read a lot of the ideas below and it seems to me that there needs to be a strong and agreeable definition of "to be" and "to exist" before effectively discussing the difference in a way that doesn't lead to confusing and arbitrary answers.

    It's like watching a Deist, a Pantheist, and an Agnostic debating with each other, while an Ignostic in the background rolls his eyes.

    Over-analyzing concepts can be fun at times but it's not a good habit to get into.
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      Jul 1 2011: My intention here is to get a feel for what people spontaneously think about these words. If I gave a specific circumference for discussion, then it would not elicit these free-flowing responses that come out of people's most predominant viewpoint about life and experiences. It would be a thought-out procedural answer in opposition to, or in fortification of, the given statement.

      I want to get a "bouquet" of responses, not settle a debate. I hold on to the belief and hope that philosophical thinking is useful for everyday living.
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    Jun 30 2011: I exist to be the best I can be.
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      Jun 30 2011: So you see your "being" as a precursor to your "existence"?
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        Jun 30 2011: I'm a precious human being and I exist, just like you, just like any other human being.

        Some say I came from the stars, some say I am God's child. Either way I know that I'm a conscious human being who can be weak but can be powerful also.

        I have the power to love, hope and trust. I have the power to be the best I can be, however it is powered and whatever other people believe wherever I go or do not go after I die.

        What do you think?
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    Jun 30 2011: To exist is to be.
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      Jun 30 2011: My dear sir, you are a monist par excellence. Do you not see any differences in modes of being or existence?

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        Jul 1 2011: I'm young yet and not so set in my ways to call myself anything, but thanks for the link I'll check it out.

        I love a variety of words but in philosophical queries I think it is best to limit ourselves for the sake of simplicity (these are difficult concepts to grasp lets not use language to make it more difficult)

        To be should for all purpose also mean to exist
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          Jul 1 2011: the concepts are difficult to grasp because they are so comprehensive. For sure we should cut down on the non-essentials to make philosophy easier to comprehend, but not simpler. Although if someone had a strong and genuine interest on the topic, then a lot of big words shouldn't prove to be much of an obstacle. If anything it could broaden one's understanding by encouraging a wider mode of thinking?

          oh well, I guess there's a reason why there are people that write books on pop-philosophy (and unfortunately pseudo-philosophy).
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          Jul 1 2011: Well, I'm in the same decade of my life as you, so I consider myself not set in my ways yet.

          I do believe in simplicity in philosophy at the end, but this simplicity should not be construed by others as simple-mindedness. More importantly, analysis using lots of words will show us if there is some structure in reality. Also, even if everything is the same in the end, intermediate levels of truth or procession also reveal some beautiful truths that can be appreciated at that level before moving on ahead.