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Michael Loughlin , Ross E. Upshur , Maya J. No Exit? Stuart J. Narrative and Meaning in Science and Religion. John A. Teske - - Zygon 45 1 The Philosophy of Existentialism. Kile Jones - - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 22 1 Of Human Freedom. Apostles of Sartre: Existentialism in America, Ann Fulton - - Northwestern University Press.
Existentialism and Humanism.
Jean-Paul Sartre - - Haskell House. Sartre a Collection of Critical Essays. Edith Kern - - Prentice-Hall. In the first decades of the 20th century, a number of philosophers and writers explored existentialist ideas. The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo , in his book The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations , emphasized the life of "flesh and bone" as opposed to that of abstract rationalism.
Jean-Paul Sartre (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Unamuno rejected systematic philosophy in favor of the individual's quest for faith. He retained a sense of the tragic, even absurd nature of the quest, symbolized by his enduring interest in Cervantes ' fictional character Don Quixote. A novelist, poet and dramatist as well as philosophy professor at the University of Salamanca, Unamuno wrote a short story about a priest's crisis of faith, Saint Manuel the Good, Martyr , which has been collected in anthologies of existentialist fiction.
Another Spanish thinker, Ortega y Gasset , writing in , held that human existence must always be defined as the individual person combined with the concrete circumstances of his life: " Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia " "I am myself and my circumstances". Sartre likewise believed that human existence is not an abstract matter, but is always situated " en situation ".
Although Martin Buber wrote his major philosophical works in German, and studied and taught at the Universities of Berlin and Frankfurt , he stands apart from the mainstream of German philosophy. Born into a Jewish family in Vienna in , he was also a scholar of Jewish culture and involved at various times in Zionism and Hasidism. In , he moved permanently to Jerusalem.
His best-known philosophical work was the short book I and Thou , published in For Buber, the fundamental fact of human existence, too readily overlooked by scientific rationalism and abstract philosophical thought, is "man with man", a dialogue that takes place in the so-called "sphere of between" "das Zwischenmenschliche". Two Russian thinkers, Lev Shestov and Nikolai Berdyaev , became well known as existentialist thinkers during their post-Revolutionary exiles in Paris.
Shestov, born into a Ukrainian-Jewish family in Kiev, had launched an attack on rationalism and systematization in philosophy as early as in his book of aphorisms All Things Are Possible. Berdyaev, also from Kiev but with a background in the Eastern Orthodox Church, drew a radical distinction between the world of spirit and the everyday world of objects. Human freedom, for Berdyaev, is rooted in the realm of spirit, a realm independent of scientific notions of causation. To the extent the individual human being lives in the objective world, he is estranged from authentic spiritual freedom.
Gabriel Marcel , long before coining the term "existentialism", introduced important existentialist themes to a French audience in his early essay "Existence and Objectivity" and in his Metaphysical Journal Harmony, for Marcel, was to be sought through "secondary reflection", a "dialogical" rather than "dialectical" approach to the world, characterized by "wonder and astonishment" and open to the "presence" of other people and of God rather than merely to "information" about them. For Marcel, such presence implied more than simply being there as one thing might be in the presence of another thing ; it connoted "extravagant" availability, and the willingness to put oneself at the disposal of the other.
Marcel contrasted secondary reflection with abstract, scientific-technical primary reflection , which he associated with the activity of the abstract Cartesian ego. For Marcel, philosophy was a concrete activity undertaken by a sensing, feeling human being incarnate—embodied—in a concrete world. In Germany, the psychologist and philosopher Karl Jaspers —who later described existentialism as a "phantom" created by the public  —called his own thought, heavily influenced by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, Existenzphilosophie.
For Jaspers, " Existenz -philosophy is the way of thought by means of which man seeks to become himself This way of thought does not cognize objects, but elucidates and makes actual the being of the thinker". Jaspers, a professor at the University of Heidelberg , was acquainted with Martin Heidegger , who held a professorship at Marburg before acceding to Husserl's chair at Freiburg in They held many philosophical discussions, but later became estranged over Heidegger's support of National Socialism Nazism.
They shared an admiration for Kierkegaard,  and in the s, Heidegger lectured extensively on Nietzsche. Nevertheless, the extent to which Heidegger should be considered an existentialist is debatable. In Being and Time he presented a method of rooting philosophical explanations in human existence Dasein to be analysed in terms of existential categories existentiale ; and this has led many commentators to treat him as an important figure in the existentialist movement.
Following the Second World War, existentialism became a well-known and significant philosophical and cultural movement, mainly through the public prominence of two French writers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus , who wrote best-selling novels, plays and widely read journalism as well as theoretical texts. Sartre dealt with existentialist themes in his novel Nausea and the short stories in his collection The Wall , and had published his treatise on existentialism, Being and Nothingness , in , but it was in the two years following the liberation of Paris from the German occupying forces that he and his close associates—Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and others—became internationally famous as the leading figures of a movement known as existentialism.
Beauvoir wrote that "not a week passed without the newspapers discussing us";  existentialism became "the first media craze of the postwar era. By the end of , Camus' earlier fiction and plays had been reprinted, his new play Caligula had been performed and his novel The Plague published; the first two novels of Sartre's The Roads to Freedom trilogy had appeared, as had Beauvoir's novel The Blood of Others.
Works by Camus and Sartre were already appearing in foreign editions. The Paris-based existentialists had become famous. Sartre had traveled to Germany in to study the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger ,  and he included critical comments on their work in his major treatise Being and Nothingness. Heidegger read Sartre's work and was initially impressed, commenting: "Here for the first time I encountered an independent thinker who, from the foundations up, has experienced the area out of which I think.
Your work shows such an immediate comprehension of my philosophy as I have never before encountered. In the s, Sartre attempted to reconcile existentialism and Marxism in his work Critique of Dialectical Reason. A major theme throughout his writings was freedom and responsibility. Camus was a friend of Sartre, until their falling-out, and wrote several works with existential themes including The Rebel , Summer in Algiers , The Myth of Sisyphus , and The Stranger , the latter being "considered—to what would have been Camus's irritation—the exemplary existentialist novel.
In the titular book, Camus uses the analogy of the Greek myth of Sisyphus to demonstrate the futility of existence. In the myth, Sisyphus is condemned for eternity to roll a rock up a hill, but when he reaches the summit, the rock will roll to the bottom again. Camus believes that this existence is pointless but that Sisyphus ultimately finds meaning and purpose in his task, simply by continually applying himself to it. The first half of the book contains an extended rebuttal of what Camus took to be existentialist philosophy in the works of Kierkegaard, Shestov, Heidegger, and Jaspers.
Simone de Beauvoir , an important existentialist who spent much of her life as Sartre's partner, wrote about feminist and existentialist ethics in her works, including The Second Sex and The Ethics of Ambiguity. Although often overlooked due to her relationship with Sartre,  de Beauvoir integrated existentialism with other forms of thinking such as feminism, unheard of at the time, resulting in alienation from fellow writers such as Camus.
Paul Tillich , an important existentialist theologian following Kierkegaard and Karl Barth , applied existentialist concepts to Christian theology , and helped introduce existential theology to the general public. His seminal work The Courage to Be follows Kierkegaard's analysis of anxiety and life's absurdity, but puts forward the thesis that modern humans must, via God, achieve selfhood in spite of life's absurdity. Rudolf Bultmann used Kierkegaard's and Heidegger's philosophy of existence to demythologize Christianity by interpreting Christian mythical concepts into existentialist concepts.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty , an existential phenomenologist , was for a time a companion of Sartre. Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception was recognized as a major statement of French existentialism. However, in later years they were to disagree irreparably, dividing many existentialists such as de Beauvoir,  who sided with Sartre. Colin Wilson , an English writer, published his study The Outsider in , initially to critical acclaim.
In this book and others e. Introduction to the New Existentialism , he attempted to reinvigorate what he perceived as a pessimistic philosophy and bring it to a wider audience.
Similar books and articles
He was not, however, academically trained, and his work was attacked by professional philosophers for lack of rigor and critical standards. Stanley Kubrick 's anti-war film Paths of Glory "illustrates, and even illuminates The film examines existentialist ethics, such as the issue of whether objectivity is possible and the "problem of authenticity ". Neon Genesis Evangelion is a Japanese science fiction animation series created by the anime studio Gainax and was both directed and written by Hideaki Anno.
This, in turn, leads him to a better understanding of humanity. Existential perspectives are also found in modern literature to varying degrees, especially since the s. Jean-Paul Sartre's novel Nausea  was "steeped in Existential ideas", and is considered an accessible way of grasping his philosophical stance. Eliot , Herman Hesse , Luigi Pirandello ,       Ralph Ellison ,     and Jack Kerouac , composed literature or poetry that contained, to varying degrees, elements of existential or proto-existential thought.
The philosophy's influence even reached pulp literature shortly after the turn of the 20th century, as seen in the existential disparity witnessed in Man's lack of control of his fate in the works of H. Dick , Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut , Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and Formless Meanderings by Bharath Srinivasan  all distort the line between reality and appearance while simultaneously espousing existential themes. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote No Exit in , an existentialist play originally published in French as Huis Clos meaning In Camera or "behind closed doors" , which is the source of the popular quote, "Hell is other people.
The play begins with a Valet leading a man into a room that the audience soon realizes is in hell. Eventually he is joined by two women. After their entry, the Valet leaves and the door is shut and locked. All three expect to be tortured, but no torturer arrives. Instead, they realize they are there to torture each other, which they do effectively by probing each other's sins, desires, and unpleasant memories.
Existentialist themes are displayed in the Theatre of the Absurd , notably in Samuel Beckett 's Waiting for Godot , in which two men divert themselves while they wait expectantly for someone or something named Godot who never arrives. They claim Godot is an acquaintance, but in fact, hardly know him, admitting they would not recognize him if they saw him.
Samuel Beckett, once asked who or what Godot is, replied, "If I knew, I would have said so in the play. The play examines questions such as death, the meaning of human existence and the place of God in human existence. Comparisons have also been drawn to Samuel Beckett 's Waiting For Godot , for the presence of two central characters who appear almost as two halves of a single character.
Many plot features are similar as well: the characters pass time by playing Questions , impersonating other characters, and interrupting each other or remaining silent for long periods of time. The two characters are portrayed as two clowns or fools in a world beyond their understanding. They stumble through philosophical arguments while not realizing the implications, and muse on the irrationality and randomness of the world. Jean Anouilh 's Antigone also presents arguments founded on existentialist ideas.
Produced under Nazi censorship, the play is purposefully ambiguous with regards to the rejection of authority represented by Antigone and the acceptance of it represented by Creon. The parallels to the French Resistance and the Nazi occupation have been drawn. Antigone rejects life as desperately meaningless but without affirmatively choosing a noble death. The crux of the play is the lengthy dialogue concerning the nature of power, fate, and choice, during which Antigone says that she is, " Esslin noted that many of these playwrights demonstrated the philosophy better than did the plays by Sartre and Camus.
Though most of such playwrights, subsequently labeled "Absurdist" based on Esslin's book , denied affiliations with existentialism and were often staunchly anti-philosophical for example Ionesco often claimed he identified more with 'Pataphysics or with Surrealism than with existentialism , the playwrights are often linked to existentialism based on Esslin's observation. 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.
A later figure was Viktor Frankl , who briefly met Freud as a young man. The existentialists would also influence social psychology , antipositivist micro- sociology , symbolic interactionism , and post-structuralism , with the work of thinkers such as Georg Simmel  and Michel Foucault. Foucault was a great reader of Kierkegaard even though he almost never refers this author, who nonetheless had for him an importance as secret as it was decisive.
An early contributor to existentialist psychology in the United States was Rollo May , who was strongly influenced by Kierkegaard and Otto Rank. One of the most prolific writers on techniques and theory of existentialist psychology in the USA is Irvin D. Yalom states that. Aside from their reaction against Freud's mechanistic, deterministic model of the mind and their assumption of a phenomenological approach in therapy, the existentialist analysts have little in common and have never been regarded as a cohesive ideological school.
Gebsattel, Roland Kuhn, G. Caruso, F. Buytendijk, G. Bally and Victor Frankl—were almost entirely unknown to the American psychotherapeutic community until Rollo May's highly influential book Existence —and especially his introductory essay—introduced their work into this country. A more recent contributor to the development of a European version of existentialist psychotherapy is the British-based Emmy van Deurzen. Anxiety's importance in existentialism makes it a popular topic in psychotherapy.
Therapists often offer existentialist philosophy as an explanation for anxiety. The assertion is that anxiety is manifested of an individual's complete freedom to decide, and complete responsibility for the outcome of such decisions. Psychotherapists using an existentialist approach believe that a patient can harness his anxiety and use it constructively. Instead of suppressing anxiety, patients are advised to use it as grounds for change. By embracing anxiety as inevitable, a person can use it to achieve his full potential in life.
Humanistic psychology also had major impetus from existentialist psychology and shares many of the fundamental tenets. Terror management theory , based on the writings of Ernest Becker and Otto Rank , is a developing area of study within the academic study of psychology. It looks at what researchers claim are implicit emotional reactions of people confronted with the knowledge that they will eventually die. Also, Gerd B. Achenbach has refreshed the Socratic tradition with his own blend of philosophical counseling. Walter Kaufmann criticized 'the profoundly unsound methods and the dangerous contempt for reason that have been so prominent in existentialism.
Ayer , assert that existentialists are often confused about the verb "to be" in their analyses of "being". Colin Wilson has stated in his book The Angry Years that existentialism has created many of its own difficulties: "we can see how this question of freedom of the will has been vitiated by post-romantic philosophy, with its inbuilt tendency to laziness and boredom , we can also see how it came about that existentialism found itself in a hole of its own digging, and how the philosophical developments since then have amounted to walking in circles round that hole".
Many critics argue Jean-Paul Sartre 's philosophy is contradictory. Specifically, they argue that Sartre makes metaphysical arguments despite his claiming that his philosophical views ignore metaphysics. Herbert Marcuse criticized Sartre's Being and Nothingness 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 ontological and metaphysical characteristics.
Existentialism thus becomes part of the very ideology which it attacks, and its radicalism is illusory". Existentialism says existence precedes essence. In this statement he is taking existentia and essentia according to their metaphysical meaning, which, from Plato's time on, has said that essentia precedes existentia.
Sartre reverses this statement. But the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical statement. With it, he stays with metaphysics, in oblivion of the truth of Being. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Philosophical study that begins with the acting, feeling, living human individual.
For the logical sense of the term, see Existential quantification. For other uses, see Existence disambiguation. Not to be confused with Essentialism. Main article: Existence precedes essence. Main article: Absurdism. Main article: Facticity. Main article: Authenticity.
Main article: Other philosophy. Main article: Angst. See also: Living educational theory. Main article: Despair. See also: Existential crisis. See also: Positivism and Rationalism. See also: Atheistic existentialism , Christian existentialism , and Jewish existentialism. See also: Existential nihilism. See also: Martin Heidegger. Main article: Existential therapy. Abandonment existentialism Disenchantment Existential phenomenology Existential therapy Existentiell List of existentialists Meaning existential Meaning-making.
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