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EXISTENTIALISM A Major Philosophical Movement of the Twentieth Century.

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Presentation on theme: "EXISTENTIALISM A Major Philosophical Movement of the Twentieth Century."— Presentation transcript:

1 EXISTENTIALISM A Major Philosophical Movement of the Twentieth Century

2 Albert Camus ( ) Philosopher, writer Considered existentialist, but denied it; rejected labels Born in Algeria to Alsatian Father and Spanish mother Came to literature by interest in theater first as actor and then playwright Philosopher, writer Considered existentialist, but denied it; rejected labels Born in Algeria to Alsatian Father and Spanish mother Came to literature by interest in theater first as actor and then playwright Albert Camus Jean-Paul Sartre

3 Albert Camus ( ) In 1940 went to Paris as a journalist, fled before the Nazi occupation Member of French resistance movement during WWII where he edited a newspaper for the movement; philosophically opposed to totalitarianism Meets Jean-Paul Sartre in 1941 In later years became more optimistic about man’s destiny In 1940 went to Paris as a journalist, fled before the Nazi occupation Member of French resistance movement during WWII where he edited a newspaper for the movement; philosophically opposed to totalitarianism Meets Jean-Paul Sartre in 1941 In later years became more optimistic about man’s destiny

4 Albert Camus ( ) Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957 for “his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates his problems of the human conscience of our time.”

5 General Information of Existentialism Popularized in France in the 1940s and 1950s by Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher, playwright, and novelist. A major influence on the interpretation and analysis of western literature. Popularized in France in the 1940s and 1950s by Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher, playwright, and novelist. A major influence on the interpretation and analysis of western literature.

6 Basic Tenets of Existentialism 1.Existence precedes essence. a.) No pre-determined meaning to life or worth of human beings. b.) Existence is nothing except what one chooses to make of it. c.) People determine their own essence (who they are; what they stand for; depths of their character and integrity) through living. 1.Existence precedes essence. a.) No pre-determined meaning to life or worth of human beings. b.) Existence is nothing except what one chooses to make of it. c.) People determine their own essence (who they are; what they stand for; depths of their character and integrity) through living.

7 Basic Tenets of Existentialism 2.People may only be judged or defined by their actions. 3.People are responsible for their actions. 4.Individual action, freedom, and decision are fundamental to human existence. 5.Honesty with oneself is paramount. 2.People may only be judged or defined by their actions. 3.People are responsible for their actions. 4.Individual action, freedom, and decision are fundamental to human existence. 5.Honesty with oneself is paramount.

8 Atheistic Existentialism 1.Does not acknowledge existence of a god. 2. Human beings are born into a meaningless, indifferent, silent universe. 3.Individuals are alone and alienated. Each is responsible for the actions of himself/herself alone. 4.Each individual has the responsibility to create his/her own meaning or essence. 5. Because human beings are born into “nothing,” each has complete freedom to act as he or she chooses. 1.Does not acknowledge existence of a god. 2. Human beings are born into a meaningless, indifferent, silent universe. 3.Individuals are alone and alienated. Each is responsible for the actions of himself/herself alone. 4.Each individual has the responsibility to create his/her own meaning or essence. 5. Because human beings are born into “nothing,” each has complete freedom to act as he or she chooses.

9 Atheistic Existentialism 6.One must be a person of “good faith.” In other words, one must accept responsibility for one’s actions and freedom of choice, with the recognition that everyone might not agree with the choices made or the actions taken by an individual. 7.A person of “bad faith” is one who is deliberately hypocritical. Uses the excuse of “good intentions” to escape responsibility. 8.A person of “good faith” judges potential actions by the following way of thinking: “What would happen if everyone did this/behaved this way?” He/She also actively engages in living and interacting with others. 6.One must be a person of “good faith.” In other words, one must accept responsibility for one’s actions and freedom of choice, with the recognition that everyone might not agree with the choices made or the actions taken by an individual. 7.A person of “bad faith” is one who is deliberately hypocritical. Uses the excuse of “good intentions” to escape responsibility. 8.A person of “good faith” judges potential actions by the following way of thinking: “What would happen if everyone did this/behaved this way?” He/She also actively engages in living and interacting with others.

10 Christian Existentialism 1.God exists. Although humans cannot understand God’s purpose, they must take a “leap of faith” and establish values in accordance with the belief in God. 2.Emphasizes anguish of making right choices and the responsibility of honest action. 1.God exists. Although humans cannot understand God’s purpose, they must take a “leap of faith” and establish values in accordance with the belief in God. 2.Emphasizes anguish of making right choices and the responsibility of honest action.

11 Common to Both Atheistic and Christian Existentialism All existentialists agree that an individual must reject despair and commit to accepting responsibility to live as best as one can.

12 Camus’ Paradox of the Absurd According to atheistic existentialists, life is absurd because it has no meaning. Camus’ work emphasizes that life and happiness are only temporary, as the human condition is one of mortality. Camus, however, is emphasizing these ideas as a means of promoting that we need to value and appreciate our lives and existence while we have them, not as a reason to dwell on our mortality. According to atheistic existentialists, life is absurd because it has no meaning. Camus’ work emphasizes that life and happiness are only temporary, as the human condition is one of mortality. Camus, however, is emphasizing these ideas as a means of promoting that we need to value and appreciate our lives and existence while we have them, not as a reason to dwell on our mortality.

13 Camus’ Paradox of the Absurd Thus, the paradox: We value our lives and strive to be happy. Eventually we will die. Therefore, our efforts will be meaningless. Thus, the paradox: We value our lives and strive to be happy. Eventually we will die. Therefore, our efforts will be meaningless.


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