Essay about Truly Living or Merely Existing

Essay about Truly Living or Merely Existing

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Truly Living or Merely Existing


The terms existing and living, as they apply to human beings, share some basic similarities; however, closer investigation philosophically reveals a very sharp contrast between the two. The American Heritage Dictionary, 6th ed., defines the word existing as "(1)to have actual being; to be real"; "(5) to be present under certain circumstances or in a specified place," and "to occur." Living, on the other hand, means "(5) to conduct one's life in a particular manner"; "(6) to pursue a positive, satisfying existence; to enjoy life." Men and women must be able to do certain things to exist as well as to live, but because they are endowed with the ability to reason, their individual choices ultimately determine whether they are truly living or merely existing.


To exist, a person depends physically on air, food, and protection from the elements (shelter and clothing). To live, a person must breathe, eat regularly, and sleep periodically in some sort of dwelling where he or she is not exposed to severe weather (wind, rain, and cold). These are basic to both existing and living.


A human being must, therefore, have the means both to exist and to live. If Joe Schmoe is said to exist, there must be some record of him in society such as a birth certificate, immigration papers, a social security number, and so forth. Most adults work in order to make the money necessary to pay the inevitable bills and buy the necessary food, shelter and clothing to survive. This "schedule for survival" is also paramount to anyone's being considered living in this world, but it is colored by people's choices. People must work or have some sort of income and pay taxes. As a ...

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...yed an aspiration to transcend his existence. Furthermore, Robert has had to apply his volition to reach the standard of living he is used to now. Every individual action, from choosing to work hard in school to working hard in his chosen profession, is in accord with his will to continue to achieve "greater heights." Robert has values; he believes in hard work, for example, so he may afford the means to get off the ground-literally. He is a thinking, feeling and growing human being with a spirit.


Finally, one might consider the following: it is necessary for a person to exist in order to live; in other words, existing is a part of living. However, it does not necessarily follow that existing is all there is to living. Living is one step beyond existing; those who are truly alive have used their reason to shape and direct their existence.


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