Conference

The Quest for Life

Part III. The Anatomy of Loss

We are born to die; human existence is therefore marked by loss. This knowledge and this experience confront us with the incompleteness of our existence, whose reason and significance we question for that very reason. The answers we find are principally determined by the myths, symbols, ideas, and ideals of our time. What idiom and what notions are typical for our time? When it comes to our experience of loss, what answers do they provide to the questions which torment us? Are old ideas still meaningful in a new world? Or have we lost the past forever, and will any attempt at regaining it only lead to nostalgia?

There is probably no greater fear than the fear of loss, the fear of naked existence, of the sheer unfathomable loneliness of an existence which has lost all meaning. It is the experience of being displaced, deprived of identity, of losing yourself. What are the consequences of such loss?

It is a thought which has been expressed many times: life’s secrets can be discovered only through loss. So what is the secret of our experience of loss? What sort of existential  knowledge is it that only this experience can impart? What is the relationship between mortality and morality? What secret does sacrifice, the loss of oneself, hold? These are indeed trying questions, painful questions. They are also questions none of us can escape.