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Existential paradoxes, yes. Narcissistic contradictions, no.

Existential paradoxes have been part of humanity since humans become humans precisely because we, humans, are not yet totally sure of what or who alone really, much less of what our purpose or destiny is, here or in the most there (if there is one).

For that reason, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus asked us two and half millennia ago, "to expect the unexpected", an obvious contradiction, because if something is unexpected it cannot be expected. But there precisely lies the validity of the invitation to refuse to see reality as it appears to be. For many, that’s totally unexpected. 

In the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition, these paradoxes frequently occur. One of the main promoters of Christianity in its initial stage, Paul, affirmed that he did what he did not want and that he did not do what he wanted. And the unknown writer (perhaps a woman) of the so-called Epistle to the Hebrews (11: 7) speaks of living as "seeing the invisible."

Seeing the invisible is as contradictory as expecting the unexpected. And Paul's lament over internal contradictions is transformed into a celebration by Walt Whitman when in his Song to Myself (part 51) he declares "Do I contradict myself? Very well. Then I contradict myself," adding, "I contain multitudes."

These existential paradoxes and those essential contradictions to the human being have been known and masterfully expressed throughout history by philosophers, theologians, artists, poets and writers, and obviously by countless "ordinary" human beings, so to speak.

Maybe that's why, as the German philosopher Richard David Precht said in the title of one of his books, the question "Who am I?" should be followed by "How many am I?"

But, as Herbert Marcuse had already warned us, this paradoxical multidimensionality of the human being has been reduced in our social and cultural context to a one-dimensional human being, a caricature of what we really are or can be, and, in fact, a monstrosity condemned to be forgotten, as Nietzsche and Kafka, in different ways, indicated.

Perhaps for this reason, existential paradoxes have been transformed into narcissistic whims, in which the age of the capricious person is irrelevant and in which the existential paradox is no longer seen as such (because that would require recognizing the other and the other in one). same), but each one only sees himself/herself, in the best style of Narcissus contemplating ceaselessly his own image.

The ancient Greeks had a word to describe those narcissistic contradictions, the belief of being more than one really is, that wanting to modify the universe by whim. They called it hybris, something like “exaggerated pride” or “insolence.” And it is not just a mere attitude without consequences, but a "monstrous and implausible incongruity", as the French philosopher Luc Ferry says.

And why are these narcissistic contradictions dangerous for the community as a whole, including the global community? Because while paradoxes keep our minds and hearts alert, narcissism always leads to self-destruction and alienation by keeping our hearts and minds closed. 

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