2 What is Existentialism? Philosophical and literary movementelements date back to Socrates and the Biblepeak was 19th and 20th centuriesdeveloped in reaction to civil unrest especially WWII
3 MAJOR EXISTENTIALIST THEMES Moral IndividualismChoice & CommitmentDread & Anxiety
4 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM MORAL INDIVIDUALISMA. Choose your own way w/o the help of universal/objective standardsB. personal experience and acting on one’s own convictions lead to the truth
5 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. C. The most important ques. in life are not accessible to reason or science***CHOICE & COMMITMENT***A. Choices create our essence or nature
6 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. B. choice is central to human existenceC. even choosing not to choose is a choiceD. death is the ultimate choiceE. with choice/free will comes responsibilityF. decisions are not right or wrong only better or worse: choose then ACT
7 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. G. The number of people affected by the decision determines its importanceH. part of the responsibility of choice is the acceptance of the consequences that accompany the choiceDREAD & ANXIETYA. dread= a feeling of apprehension
8 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. B. total freedom of choice leads to anguish or dread.Ex. In “The Guest” Daru is stressed about the necessity of making a decision about the Arab’s future.C. Human life is full of ambiguity
9 EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS Deaththe meaning of human existencethe place of God in human existencethe meaning of valueinterpersonal relationshipplace of self-reflective conscious knowledge of one’s self in existing
10 A POINT OF CLARIFICATION ON EXISTENTIALISM Existentialists do not recognize any human or immortal authority BUT most Existentialists ARE NOT atheists.Many of them are religious, but God gave humanity free will and therefore does not play an active role in our decision making.
11 MAJOR FIGURES Soren Kierkeggard founder of modern Existentialism Jean Paul Sartreexistence precedes essence
12 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. Friedrich Nietzsche The individual must decide which situations count as moral situations.Martin HeideggerAnxiety leads to individual’s confrontation with nothingness & impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he/she makes.
13 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian novelist Franz KafkaAustrian Jewish writeremphasis on individual’s isolation & man’s confrontation with elusive, menacing bureaucraciesFyodor DostoyevskyRussian novelistgreatest existentialist literary figure
14 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. Albert Camus Algerian writer major themes: absurdity and futility of life & the indifference of the universeTheatre of the AbsurdPlaywrights: Eugene Ionesco & Samuel BeckettMajor themes: absurdity & futility of existence
15 KEY EXISTENTIAL QUOTES “we are condemned to be free.” ~Sartre“life is absurd.” ~CamusHuman beings require a rational basis for their existence, but unable to find one, human life is a “futile passion.” ~Sartre
16 KEY EXISTENTIAL QUOTES Heidegger argued that humanity finds itself in an incomprehensible, indifferent world. Human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and the ultimate meaninglessness of one’s life.
17 KEY EXISTENTIAL QUOTES “We must love life more than the meaning of it.” ~DostoyevskySartre reminds us that actions and statements, most choices, are made within the view of others---and others will determine if we are liars or being authentic.
18 KEY EXISTENTIALIST QUOTES “If you are born cowards, you can be quite content, you can do nothing about it and you can be cowards all your life whatever you do; and if you are born heroes you can again be quite content; you will be heroes all your life, eating and drinking heroically. Whereas the existentialist says that the coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is the possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being heroic.” ~Sartre
19 How to be Happy in an Existentialist world! Accept/Embrace the meaninglessness of existence/ Stop trying to find meaning b/c there isn’t anyMake “better” choices and act on themUnderstand that decision-making is a stressful, solitary act, even when in a group, but it is necessary to existencesocietal structures are the result of men & women attempting to limit their choices