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EXISTENTIALISM. Religion vs. Philosophy Religion Religion –Can be philosophical but doesn’t need to be –Has rituals/ceremonies –Makes use of reason (sometimes),

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Presentation on theme: "EXISTENTIALISM. Religion vs. Philosophy Religion Religion –Can be philosophical but doesn’t need to be –Has rituals/ceremonies –Makes use of reason (sometimes),"— Presentation transcript:

1 EXISTENTIALISM

2 Religion vs. Philosophy Religion Religion –Can be philosophical but doesn’t need to be –Has rituals/ceremonies –Makes use of reason (sometimes), but relies mostly or entirely on faith –Based on faith in God, gods, or religious principles –Often includes miracles or miraculous events

3 Religion vs. Philosophy Philosophy Philosophy –Can be religious but does not need to be –No rituals –Emphasizes the use of reason and critical thinking –Based on rational arguments –No miracles

4 Religion vs. Philosophy Common Ground Common Ground –Both wrestle with problems like: What is good? What is good? What does it mean to live a good life? What does it mean to live a good life? What is the nature of reality? What is the nature of reality? Why are we here and what should we be doing? Why are we here and what should we be doing? How should we treat each other? How should we treat each other? What is really most important in life? What is really most important in life?

5 World War II  Germany started World War II by invading Poland on Sept. 1, 1939  Britain and France responded by declaring war on Germany – Sept. 3  Within a month, Poland was defeated and divided between Germany and Russia  Germany then invaded Norway and Denmark

6 World War II  May 10, 1940 – Germany began its assault on western Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France)  Germany attacked France from the north – Italy attacked from the south – Germans closed in on Paris  June 17, 1940 – Marshal Henri Petain (French military commander) told his country “we must stop fighting”

7 World War II  Four days later, Hitler handed French officers his terms of surrender – Germans would occupy the northern part of France, and a Nazi-controlled puppet government would be set up at Vichy in southern France  Dec. 11, 1941 – U.S. declared war on Italy and Germany  In late 1942, Germany took over all of France

8 Europe – 1942

9 World War II  May 7, 1945 – Germany signs unconditional surrender  Sept. 2, 1945 – Japan signs unconditional surrender  During World War II, French people were under control of the Nazis and feared that they had lost their country and their heritage forever.

10 Jean-Paul Sartre Nobel Prize for literature in 1964 “for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom, and the quest for truth, has exerted a far- reaching influence on our age”

11 Biography Born in Paris – June 21, 1905 Born in Paris – June 21, 1905 Grew up in the home of his maternal grandfather Grew up in the home of his maternal grandfather Educated in Paris Educated in Paris Inducted into the French military following the outbreak of European war in 1939 (World War II) Inducted into the French military following the outbreak of European war in 1939 (World War II)

12 Biography Captured in June, 1940 and imprisoned into 1941 by the Germans Captured in June, 1940 and imprisoned into 1941 by the Germans Germans released him on the grounds that he was not physically fit for military service Germans released him on the grounds that he was not physically fit for military service Taught philosophy Taught philosophy Active in the French Resistance Active in the French Resistance Developed existentialism (a philosophy) during Nazi occupation of France Developed existentialism (a philosophy) during Nazi occupation of France

13 Biography Existentialism gained a large following Existentialism gained a large following Sartre gave up teaching in 1945 and founded a political and literary magazine Sartre gave up teaching in 1945 and founded a political and literary magazine Existentialism maintained an enormous following even after World War II Existentialism maintained an enormous following even after World War II After World War II, Sartre moved away from existentialism and became more involved with Marxism After World War II, Sartre moved away from existentialism and became more involved with Marxism

14 Biography Rejected the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature, explaining that to accept such an award would compromise his integrity as a writer Rejected the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature, explaining that to accept such an award would compromise his integrity as a writer Died April 15, 1980 Died April 15, 1980 More than 25,000 people lined the streets of Paris for his funeral procession More than 25,000 people lined the streets of Paris for his funeral procession

15 Existentialism A philosophy developed by Sartre during the Nazi occupation of France The philosophy makes sense in the time frame –Consider the lack of freedom in France –Think about how the French felt, thinking their freedom and heritage had been taken forever –They had a feeling of hopelessness –Existentialism gained popularity because it gave the people a feeling of power over their lives and their world –Existentialism also gave people a feeling of individuality against the conformity of Nazism –The Nazi occupation could also explain Sartre’s atheism – how could God allow this to happen?

16 The Principles of Existentialism Existence Precedes Essence –The prevailing philosophical view of human beings is that they have a “nature” or “essence from birth” Christianity – we are created by God for a reason Sartre himself denies the existence of God, and believes there is no human essence (no reason for being) –Sartre argues, however, that there are also Christian existentialists

17 The Principles of Existentialism Existence Precedes Essence (cont.) –First we exist, then we create ourselves through our actions and decisions –We are nothing more than a collection of acts that make up our lives –When a paper cutter is made, it is made with a purpose – the person who makes it knows that it is a paper cutter and that will be its function –Humans are not made like this – there is no reason for our existence – we are not made for a specific reason or purpose

18 The Principles of Existentialism Existence Precedes Essence (cont.) –There is no meaning for our existence –But we do exist This is absurd –Man is thrown into a meaningless world without his permission –My essence, the person I am now, is the product of the free choices I have made in the course of my life so far

19 The Principles of Existentialism Existence Precedes Essence (cont.) I am NOT who I was in the past I am NOT who I will be in the future Every decision I make changes who I am

20 The Principles of Existentialism Consciousness –Consciousness always refers beyond itself to an object “ Unreflected consciousness” – consciousness before it is reflected on/thought about –No “I” –Running to catch a bus – unreflected consciousness – “bus-to-be-caught”

21 The Principles of Existentialism Consciousness (cont.) –“Reflective consciousness” – when you actually think about/reflect on something You understand your relationship to something This is where the “I” is found Once you missed the bus – “I missed the bus; I’m going to be late for school” Focus is internalized Suddenly consciousness is self-directed and self- aware, not just observing outwardly

22 The Principles of Existentialism I Create Myself –My “self” is not a stable, solid entity – it is a creation that I must make and remake from moment to moment –Every decision I make or do not make creates me (it makes me who I am)

23 The Principles of Existentialism I Create Myself (cont.) –I must also create my world –In choosing for myself, I am also choosing for the world –Every time I make a decision, I am putting values into the world –If I choose to cheat on a test, then I am saying it is ok to cheat. I am putting that value into the world

24 The Principles of Existentialism I Create Myself (cont.) –If I choose to get married and have children, then I am choosing the value of monogamy for the world –I am not only responsible for myself, I am responsible for the world –Every time I make a decision, I must think “What would happen if everyone looked at things this way?”

25 The Principles of Existentialism Condemned to be Free –We are free –Freedom is not absolute – if a boulder falls in my way, I cannot change the fact that it is there and I cannot get through it, but I am free to interpret the meaning of the boulder It may mean an obstacle to be conquered It may mean that I cannot reach my goal of getting to the top of the mountain

26 The Principles of Existentialism Condemned to be Free (cont.) –We are always making decisions and creating ourselves and our world Even choosing not to decide is a decision –We are always free because there are always alternative choices – the ultimate alternative is death – If I do not shoot myself, then I have chosen whatever is the alternative to death –We are condemned to be free – we cannot escape this freedom as long as we are alive

27 The Principles of Existentialism Condemned to be Free (cont.) –“If God doesn’t exist, everything would be possible” –Fyodor Dostoevsky –This is true –Because there is no God, there are no excuses –There are no values except those that we create

28 The Principles of Existentialism Bad Faith vs. Good Faith –Most people create themselves and their world in “bad faith” Rather than facing up to their responsibility and freedom, they flee from it by blaming others or fate –We should act in “good faith” We should accept responsibility for our actions without blaming other things

29 The Principles of Existentialism Bad Faith vs. Good Faith –Examples I didn’t do well on that test because the teacher doesn’t like me and we didn’t go over the homework enough – BAD FAITH I didn’t do well on that test because I didn’t study or ask for help – GOOD FAITH I am never going to be successful because I come from a poor family and my parents don’t care about me – BAD FAITH I can be successful if I make choices that lead me in the direction I choose – GOOD FAITH

30 The Principles of Existentialism The Gaze –The main complication in all of this is that we must encounter other beings When someone else looks at me, I become the object of his gaze I am transformed into object This is not a good feeling because we have no control over it “Hell is other people” – Sartre

31 The Principles of Existentialism The Gaze –Imagine that you are looking through a key hole into someone else’s house. You are spying on them. –The people you are looking at are purely object. You are watching them and seeing what they are doing. They do not know you are there.

32 The Principles of Existentialism The Gaze (cont.) –As you are watching them, you become aware that someone is behind you – someone has caught you peeping. –You have now become the object to that person. –You have become the “other” – you are now an object to someone else. –You now see yourself as object – as the other person sees you.

33 Criticism of Existentialism It is pessimistic –Sartre denied this, saying that we are all heroes in existentialism because we persevere Sartre ignores the lower classes –It is difficult to focus on the issues of existentialism when you are worried about feeding your children and having a place to live Sartre does not mention or deal with politics or government –These two reasons may explain why Sartre later became a Marxist (Marxism focuses on these two issues)


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