When an Existentialist Meets a Rationalist (?)


Well..I finally got my full-fledged internet in place.

And after all those offline drafts I had carefully preserved, I felt the need to write on a topic that’s been dominant in my head from 2 days now.

I have been reading philosophy in a much more systematic manner from a couple of days or so. Till now, I had subconsciously followed an approach known as the Great Man theory while reading a topic. For the first time, I read it from an epistemology perspective – broken into branches such as metaphysics, ethics etc. My favorite for now, is definitely ethics.

Sorry digressed from the point quite a bit, So I was saying reading all these great theories and thinking about the milestones in my life from the perspective of these theories, I always felt a smile twitching in a corner.

An important milestone kept coming back to my mind. I remember the time, while I was graduating – I felt I had it all pretty figured out. Having admired Ayn Rand – justified realism, individualism, capitalism without so much as spending time time reading marxism, utilitarianism. Today, as I begin to temper my admiration, I’m not sure if its due to working in public policy or is it just aging or is it becoming more objective? If its the last option, the trigger for that is not hard to imagine.

It all began with those innocuous walks in the streets of Mumbai – I still remember those 4 hour long discussions where my view point from anti-sports to a champion of them, from being quite rightist to a moderate one changed bi-weekly. And in all those 4 hours, every line of reasoning as original as you, every point of rebuttal seeking clarity not vengeance. How unlike me I thought. Being well read seems so futile, when you are in the presence of those select few. But the true gem always comes in the end. Despite reasoning your point of view better than me, ending it with – “But, Hey, I don’t know.” You never knew the impact those 5 words had on me. Yes, they were more impactful than the line of reasoning itself. You can’t teach a fundamentalist moderation by being a moderate yourself, you have to teach him that by being a lover.Changing my perspective was probably the last goal in your mind. But, it happened nevertheless. I became objective, I started thinking instead of reading. I still haven’t lost the child like zest when I see a great quote, but it’s stopped giving me mid-life crisis a day later. Your views didn’t become my views.  just learnt to refute my views, in my own way..

Over time, I have seen the impact of the clarity I effused back then on you. With “I don’t know’s”  gone, I see the quest for the truth. Yes, you started believing in right and wrong. In ethics and what not. Albeit a slower journey spanning years. But you are finally there, where I can write about it, without feeling smitten.

Isn’t this what love is about, an intervention in spaces which you thought were beyond the reach of anyone. For me those spaces were – Principles I uphold. They are unreachable still, but there numbers, there conflicts are fewer and their enunciation louder.

They say gifting someone a great book, is the greatest gift of all. But, nudging them to critically test their principles so they could be proud of the person they are is the debt I owe you for a lifetime.

Remembering you.

Photo Credits: Arti Agarwal Photography


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