Existentialism A Philosophy

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  • 1. Existentialism: A Philosophy English 11 (Honors) April 29, 2008 Mr. K. Smith
  • 2. So, what is Existentialism?
    • Existentialism is a philosophical movement that posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to deities or authorities creating it for them.
  • 3. So, what is Existentialism?
    • It emerged as a movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, though it had forerunners in earlier centuries. Existentialism generally postulates that the absence of a transcendent force (such as God) means that the individual is entirely free, and, therefore, ultimately responsible. It is up to humans to create an ethos of personal responsibility outside any branded belief system. In existentialist views, personal articulation of being is the only way to rise above humanity's absurd condition of much suffering and inevitable death.
  • 4. How can Existentialism be defined?
    • As a kind of philosophizing that emphasizes the uniqueness and freedom of the individual person against the herd, the crowd, or the mass society.
    • Emphasizes individual responsibility, individual personality, individual existence, and individual freedom and choice.
    • Existentialists hold the belief that life’s most important questions are not accessible to reason or science.
    • The only certainty for existentialists is death.
    • In the existentialist world, each person is born, lives, chooses his or her course, and creates the meaning of his or her own existence.
    • The basic thrust of the existentialist philosophizing is to portray the human struggle to achieve self-definition through choice.
  • 5. How can Existentialism be defined?
    • All people are fully responsible for the meaning of their own existence and creating their own essence of self-definition.
    • Existentialist involvement calls for individual philosophizing about the persistent human consensus of life, love, death, and meaning.
    • Knowledge of existentialist originates in and is composed of what exists in an individual’s consciousness and feelings as a result of one’s experiences; the validity of knowledge is determined.
  • 6. Basic Tenets of Existentialism
    • Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries
    • Became prominent after World War II
    • Existentialism is a philosophical perspective or inclination rather than a complete system of thought
    • Existentialism is not a uniform body of philosophical thought
    • * Existentialists have raised similar questions but have differed on the answers to those questions
  • 7. 6 Basic Themes of Existentialism
    • 1. Man is conscious subject rather than a thing to be predicted or manipulated.
    • 2. Anxiety -- a generalized uneasiness. The dread of the nothingness of human existence. This dark picture of human life leads existentialists to reject ideas such as happiness and a sense of well being.
    • 3. Absurdity -- Each of us is simply here, having been thrown into this time and place, but why now?
  • 8. 6 Basic Themes of Existentialism
    • 4. Nothingness -- "I am my own existence, but my existence is nothingness."
    • 5. Death -- The only certainty of life which hangs over existentialist head at each moment of life.
    • 6. Alienation -- apart from the existentialists own conscious being, everything else is "otherness", from which he or she estranged.
  • 9. Criticisms
    • Carried to extremes, existentialism is a companion of anarchy . Furthermore, modern education is a mass enterprise. It is not possible to individualize the work of the school to provide specifics for each student. Moreover, we live in society. Students are living and will continue to live in society. External controls must exist of necessity. They are part of the socializing process through which all must go through.