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EXISTENTIALISM. What is Existentialism? zPhilosophical and literary movement zelements date back to Socrates and the Bible zpeak was 19th and 20th centuries.

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Presentation on theme: "EXISTENTIALISM. What is Existentialism? zPhilosophical and literary movement zelements date back to Socrates and the Bible zpeak was 19th and 20th centuries."— Presentation transcript:

1 EXISTENTIALISM

2 What is Existentialism? zPhilosophical and literary movement zelements date back to Socrates and the Bible zpeak was 19th and 20th centuries zdeveloped in reaction to civil unrest especially WWII

3 MAJOR EXISTENTIALIST THEMES zMoral Individualism zChoice & Commitment  Dread & Anxiety

4 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM zMORAL INDIVIDUALISM zA. Choose your own way w/o the help of universal/objective standards zB. 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*** zA. Choices create our essence or nature

6 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. zB. choice is central to human existence zC. even choosing not to choose is a choice zD. death is the ultimate choice zE. with choice/free will comes responsibility zF. decisions are not right or wrong only better or worse: choose then ACT

7 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. zG. The number of people affected by the decision determines its importance zH. part of the responsibility of choice is the acceptance of the consequences that accompany the choice zDREAD & ANXIETY zA. dread= a feeling of apprehension

8 MAIN TENETS OF EXISTENTIALISM Cont. zB. total freedom of choice leads to anguish or dread. zEx. In “The Guest” Daru is stressed about the necessity of making a decision about the Arab’s future. zC. Human life is full of ambiguity

9 EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS zDeath zthe meaning of human existence zthe place of God in human existence zthe meaning of value zinterpersonal relationship zplace of self-reflective conscious knowledge of one’s self in existing

10 A POINT OF CLARIFICATION ON EXISTENTIALISM zExistentialists do not recognize any human or immortal authority BUT most Existentialists ARE NOT atheists. zMany 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 zSoren Kierkeggard  founder of modern Existentialism  Jean Paul Sartre zexistence precedes essence

12 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. zFriedrich Nietzsche zThe individual must decide which situations count as moral situations. zMartin Heidegger zAnxiety leads to individual’s confrontation with nothingness & impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he/she makes.

13 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. zFyodor Dostoyevsky zRussian novelist zgreatest existentialist literary figure zFranz Kafka zAustrian Jewish writer  emphasis on individual’s isolation & man’s confrontation with elusive, menacing bureaucracies

14 MAJOR FIGURES CONT. zAlbert Camus zAlgerian writer zmajor themes: absurdity and futility of life & the indifference of the universe zTheatre of the Absurd zPlaywrights: Eugene Ionesco & Samuel Beckett zMajor themes: absurdity & futility of existence

15 KEY EXISTENTIAL QUOTES z“we are condemned to be free.” ~Sartre z“life is absurd.” ~Camus zHuman beings require a rational basis for their existence, but unable to find one, human life is a “futile passion.” ~Sartre

16 KEY EXISTENTIAL QUOTES zHeidegger 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 z“We must love life more than the meaning of it.” ~Dostoyevsky zSartre 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 z“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! zAccept/Embrace the meaninglessness of existence/ Stop trying to find meaning b/c there isn’t any zMake “better” choices and act on them  Understand that decision-making is a stressful, solitary act, even when in a group, but it is necessary to existence zsocietal structures are the result of men & women attempting to limit their choices


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