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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

To enable readers to understand her examination, Zito begins her essay by situating readers in a position to understand Miguel de Unamuno’s work, The Tragic Sense of Life. A man has no purpose in the world, but is a purpose in and of himself. An individual is his own objective, and this holds true for all individuals, for everyone seeks the same understanding of himself and of others. Meaning comes from the journey to understanding, rather than from understanding in itself, for once understanding is gained, there can be nothing after. Humans have a desire to exist, which is why they continue struggling, knowing there is no full understanding at the end of their search. This is where Unamuno introduces religion into his philosophy. Just as existence is the motive for humans to live and wonder, so too does existence promote the desire for closeness with God. As an ever-present being, immortal with the ability to prolong the journey as an objective, God’s existence is that which humans desire. Next, the essay progressed to Unamuno’s philosophy which rests on the need to feel and accept feelings as legitimate sources of understanding, rather than concentrating solely on scientific thought and objective facts. Those who feel and who pay attention to their feelings are those who are content to struggle in a quest with no possible victory. These are the people who think and feel with every part of themselves, mind and soul alike. “The tragic sense of life” comes into play in this essay when the discussion of feeling evolves into the common grief felt by all. The unreasonable grief evoked by the tragic sense of life is what binds all men together in their search to know themselves in a truer sense. Zito’s essay end with a plea to reengage with feelings of love and grief and imagination in order to reach a better, but never complete, understanding of God.

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