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Existentialism Genealogy and Themes (Gill & Sherman, 1973)

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Presentation on theme: "Existentialism Genealogy and Themes (Gill & Sherman, 1973)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Existentialism Genealogy and Themes (Gill & Sherman, 1973)

2 It is not simply… A formal philosophy Located in France or 20 th Century Europe Atheistic Anarchistic Nihilistic Pessimistic

3 What it is… A revolt against classical philosophy New Metaphysics New Epistemology New Axiology A response to 20 th Century turmoil A hybrid of ancient and modern perspective Humanistic

4 Genealogy: Plato’s Essentialism Reason is our vehicle to the Truth. The individual disciplined intellect is the Way. We live in a world of Appearances. Opinion is unreliable. The human microcosm is a mirror of the unified macrocosm.

5 Transition: Bacon’s Renaissance “Knowledge is power.” The data of human experience can eventually discover the controlling principles of the universe.

6 Transition: Newton’s Enlightenment Nature (i.e. human nature) can be interpreted and enclosed in a tight mechanistic scheme. A Science of Man is therefore possible. John Locke David Hume Immanuel Kant

7 Utopianism Possible Reason’s ‘natural light’ would guide man’s progress ‘onward and upward’ endlessly. Human enlightenment and happiness was progressively more inevitable. Expanding mastery of facts would lead to a growing ‘adjustment’ of man to his world. The best of all possible worlds is near.

8 Transition: Kierkegaard’s Subjectivity The individual is more than the sum of his parts. “Truth is subjectivity.” ‘Inwardness’ needs to be addressed The Absurd, not the rational, defines man. The Paradox of the Incarnation challenges us. The ‘leap of faith’ is required. “God is love.”

9 The Individual Condition To be unique, we must accept That we are free That we are unique That we are alone In return, we must accept Alienation Anxiety Despair (Kafka, Sartre, Camus)

10 Existential Leaps: Either/Or Ethical life (first stage) Accept responsibility for action. Danger of self-idolatry Religious life Making a ‘Leap of faith’ in spite of the absurd Accepting ‘fear and trembling’ of the choice. Kierkegaard

11 Themes Primacy of the Individual The Critique of Reason Authentic vs. Inauthentic Life The Boundary Situation Alienation The Encounter With Nothingness Dread Freedom, Choice, Commitment and Community

12 I: The Primacy of the Individual The existing self is the only category, the unique self. All experience is subjective. Truth is for me, an idea to live for.

13 II: The Critique of Reason Reason is not fully adequate in defining man. Man is too complex to explain with reason. Man is a whole of reason and passion. Man is a balance of his whole selves.

14 III: Authentic vs. Inauthentic Life Authentic: when man is truly himself. Socrates, Antigone Inauthentic: detached from self and others. Gregor Samsa, Willy Loman Authentic: freely choosing self at all times. Inauthentic: a creature of mindless habit.

15 IV: The Boundary Situation A moment when a person must decide what to be. A turning point when one must choose to be self-defining. Confrontation with the absurd and the choice to act or not. Hamlet

16 V: Alienation Sense of aloneness in the universe. Anguish of separation from others. Despair of separation from God. Confrontation with free choice.

17 VI: Encounter with Nothingness Confrontation with the ‘death of God.’ The experience associated with dread. The response to the feeling of ‘angst.’

18 VII: Dread (angst) No identifiable object. Being in the world, but without a sense of its purpose. Passive joylessness, dejection, melancholy Profound boredom.

19 VIII: Freedom, Choice, Commitment, and Community Humanistic choices available to us. We are free to be responsible. We can decide how we want to commit ourselves to others. Life is a quest.

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