What is existentialism and why does it matter?
- Existentialism can be seen as the response to the frightening loneliness that prompted Friedrich Nietzsche to pronounce in the 1880s that "God is dead."
Jun 08, 2018 · Existentialism is a philosophical approach that rejects the idea that the universe offers any clues about how humanity should live. A simplified understanding of this thought system can be found in Jean-Paul Sartre 's often-repeated dictum, "Existence precedes essence."
- Relation to Nihilism
- Influence Outside Philosophy
- See Also
Existentialism was foreshadowed by 19th century philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. In the 20th century, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (starting from Husserl‘s phenomenology) influenced other existentialist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and (absurdist) Albert Camus. Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Fr...
Existentialism refers to a set of ideas about human existence, beyond the terms used in ancient philosophy and objective science. The term “existentialism” is used both for philosophical concepts and for literary works,as well as being a label applied to various works by others. The exact meaning depends on the particular writer, and some writers o...
Focus on concrete existence
Existentialist thinkers focus on the question of concrete human existence and the conditions of this existence rather than hypothesizing a human essence, stressing that the human essence is determined through life choices. However, even though the concrete individual existence must have priority in existentialism, certain conditions are commonly held to be “endemic” to human existence. What these conditions are is better understood in light of the meaning of the word “existence,” which comes...
Existence precedes essence
A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called his or her “essence” instead of there being a predetermined essence that defines what it is to be a human. Thus, the human beings – through their own consciousness – create their own values and determine a meaning to their life.Although it was Sartre who explicitly coined the phrase, similar notions can be found in the thought...
“Existential” angst, sometimes called dread, anxiety or even anguishis a term that is common to many existentialist thinkers. It is generally held to be a negative feeling arising from the experience of human freedom and responsibility. The archetypal example is the experience one has when standing on a cliff where one not only fears falling off it, but also dreads the possibility of throwing oneself off. In this experience that “nothing is holding me back”, one senses the lack of anything th...
Though nihilism and existentialism are distinct philosophies, they are often confused with one another. A primary cause of confusion is that Friedrich Nietzsche is an important philosopher in both fields, but also the existentialist insistence on the absurd and the inherent meaninglessness of the world. Existentialist philosophers often stress the ...
Herbert Marcuse criticised Existentialism, especially Being and Nothingness (1943), by Jean-Paul Sartre, for projecting anxiety and meaninglessness onto the nature of existence itself: “Insofar as Existentialism is a philosophical doctrine, it remains an idealistic doctrine: it hypostatizes specific historical conditions of human existence into ont...
Cultural movement and influence
The term existentialism was first adopted as a self-reference in the 1940s and 1950s by Jean-Paul Sartre, and the widespread use of literature as a means of disseminating their ideas by Sartre and his associates (notably novelist Albert Camus) meant existentialism “was as much a literary phenomenon as a philosophical one.” Among existentialist writers were Parisians Jean Genet, André Gide, André Malraux, and playwright Samuel Beckett, the Norwegian Knut Hamsun, and the Romanian friends Eugène...
Existentialism and Christianity
Christ’s teachings had an indirect style, in which his point is often left unsaid for the purpose of letting the single individual confront the truth on their own. This is evident in his parables, which are a response to a question he is asked. After he tells the parable, he returns the question to the individual. An existentialist reading of the Bible would demand that the reader recognize that he is an existing subject studying the words more as a recollection of possible events. This is in...
Existentialist psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
A major offshoot of existentialism as a philosophy is existentialist psychology and psychoanalysis, which first crystallized in the work of Otto Rank, Freud’s closest associate for 20 years. Without awareness of the writings of Rank, Ludwig Binswanger was influenced by Freud, Edmund Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. A later figure was Viktor Frankl, who briefly met Freud and studied with Jung as a young man. His logotherapy can be regarded as a form of existentialist therapy. The existentialists...
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What is existentialism and why does it matter?
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Jan 27, 2022 · Existentialism is a concept that derives from theories about humans that their journey through life is based on their ability to make their own decisions and take responsibility for the things that happens to them. These focus on working with certain human functions, for example behavior and reaction patterns, being in one's .
Nov 20, 2015 · Third, the nature of life itself is a perennial existentialist concern and, more famously (in Heidegger and in Camus), also the significance of death. 2.Anxiety and Authenticity A key idea here is that human existence is in some way 'on its own'; anxiety (or anguish) is the recognition of this fact. Anxiety here has two important implications.
The first meaning implies that this is a unique person, one of a kind, a colorful individual whose special traits arouse curiosity. The second meaning suggests that this person can be recognized as a typical example of a familiar group or social category and reminds us of other individuals with similar values, behavior, style, and habits.