My name is Iva Paska. I was always drawn to existential questions such as
Why all of this?
What is the meaning of life…(considering that…)?How to live in contemporary society?
What is the meaning of certain hard experiences in life? …The question which over time evolved into – Should all experiences be standardized or are they forced to be? What about the interpretation of those experiences society feels are not standardized?
In the meantime, I have started to look at this as a call and started seeking answers. This web-page is the result of my now already 15-year long search. I am passing on only the content that I found useful. I am trying to stay away from cliche new-age ideas that promise instant happiness and seek instead meaningful knowledge coming from long-standing traditions of mankind, rooted in philosophical and scientific knowledge.
As for me, I hold a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences, the field of Sociology, finished at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. My sociological interests are intimate relationships from the sociological perspective, the epistemology of mental health and sociology of media. I also finished courses Transactional Analysis 101 in Zagreb and “Logotherapy in Upbringing and Education”, accredited by the Croatian Agency for Upbringing and Education, DBT Legacy course of the Behavioral Tech Institute and DBT Skills course. I have also organized my own Existential circles for a brief period of time, serving as places for existential givens we usually don’t have time or space to address in everyday life – such as meaning, hard experiences or death. I co-organized Feministic circle in Booksa in Zagreb. I worked for and participated in the work of various NGOs in Zagreb and Varaždin dealing with community development and mental health.
Meaning has been an actual topic since forever, but it seems that it has come to the forefront in contemporary society. Contemporary society has in its Heideggerian “instrumentalization” somehow forgot about the human being and his symbolic needs. Hence the contemporary pervasiveness of feelings of helplessness. Hence feelings of insecurity. Hence, this web-site, as an attempt to look at human beings contextually. I was always drawn to existentialism because it is related to issues every human being encounters in life, such as the experience of life, death, anxiety, suffering, yearning for meaning.
It is a social science that taught me how to think about human contextually. This is also a feature of existentialist tradition. For existentialist tradition, human beings are not just a fixed set of characteristics, but they are also dependent on the context, experience, intentionality. This is how I perceive human beings and this is important when linked to today prevalent epistemology of human beings. It is a de-contextualized one, often perceiving the human subject as existing in a void, contextual vacuum, as an isolated mind. This then translates to interpretations devoid of understanding of one’s existence “in-the-world”, to quote Heidegger and lack of understanding of certain issues from the subjective experience of their holder. This leads to mechanistic perspectives on human existence and mental health.
In my search various philosophical and social science traditions, psychological and other kinds of practices, including zen Buddhism and mindfulness. Mindfulness is extremely important in that that it teaches us how to be with experience, something we often forget as our monkey-mind of 70 000 thoughts daily (!) churns and takes us away from the immediate here and now. It is in line with the initial idea of the author of Buddhism himself – Buddha, and that is a very existentialist goal – how to tackle suffering that is inevitable in life.
Social sciences and humanities are my greatest love. I have never encountered anything that explained human existence so well as sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology. Being the source of many answers and new ways of approaching the world, they are unjustly overlooked in the age of mechanist science. It is worth remembering that they take into account what reductionistic theories overlook – context and history. And without these, there is no understanding of human being and there can only be lacking understanding of social practices and human behavior. We are, first and foremost, social beings and our meaning is found in this context.
Enjoy the webpage. I hope that it will help in your own quest for meaning.