Existentialism

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An overview of the philosophy of Existentialism as it applies to education

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Existentialism

  1. 1. Existentialism The Courage to Be
  2. 2. Existentialism <ul><li>As a philosophical movement Existentialism emphasizes- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual existence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal freedom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authentic choice </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Existentialism <ul><li>Ontology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reality is subjective, Truth is relative </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Epistemology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We learn by making authentic choices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anxiety comes with the total freedom of choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To refuse to choose authentically is to live in “bad faith.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Axiology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>no universal, rational judgment between right and wrong. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To do good is to act in good faith </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To do bad is to act in bad faith </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Philosophers described as Existentialists <ul><li>Soren Kierkegaard </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1813-1855 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Friedrich Nietzsche </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1843-1900 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Jean-PaulSartre </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1905-1980 </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Soren Kierkegaard Religious Existentialism <ul><li>Kierkegaard stressed the ambiguity and absurdity of the human situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An individual must live a totally committed life, which is only understood by the individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He advocated a “leap of faith” into Christianity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Although Christianity is incomprehensible, it is the only commitment that will save an individual from complete and utter despair. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Friedrich Nietzsche Atheistic Existentialism <ul><li>God is Dead </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All external authority blinds the individual to authentic choice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Judeo-Christian moral code keeps the individual from assuming full responsibility for his or her decisions </li></ul><ul><li>The Scientific assumption of an orderly universe is a useful fiction that hides the meaninglessness of existence </li></ul>
  7. 8. John-Paul Sartre Existentialism as a Philosophy <ul><ul><li>He wrote the first work that attempted to make Existentialism into a coherent philosophy in 1943 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It was written in response to the absurdity of World War II </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>He argued that humans beings need a rational basis for their lives so they developed systematic philosophies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but this is impossible to achieve. The human life is a “futile passion”. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 9. John-Paul Sartre “existence precedes essence” <ul><ul><li>We exist first and then we need to create our essential being </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Existential dread- “the cry in the night” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By refusing to accept full responsibility for who we are and the decisions we make, we act in bad faith </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. Living an Authentic Life <ul><li>Authentic existence (essence) can only be achieved by those who actively seek to discover purposefulness for their existence </li></ul><ul><li>This happens by making independent choices and assuming responsibility for consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is not a natural flow; is easily stifled by outside influences </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Obstacles to Authenticity <ul><li>1) Unawareness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness can be stifled through conformity during the formative years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Students not allowed to make choices are denied the opportunity to accept responsibility for their choices </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>2) Fear </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual fear of accepting the burden of responsibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To refuse to choose is to make a choice </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Implications for Education <ul><li>The learner should feel valued as an individual and encouraged to develop his or her personal style and creativity. </li></ul><ul><li>Existentialist educators are generally against the concept of teaching as showing, guiding, or directing </li></ul><ul><li>Rather, the teacher should ‘prize’ the learner and make the learner feel worthwhile. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Teacher Contamination <ul><li>Teachers who fail to recognize that reality is experienced subjectively will likely impose on their students an external reality, one contaminated by personal and societal biases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>-Gary Hunter </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Encouraging the Pursuit of Authenticity <ul><li>Teachers must celebrate student authenticity and what existentialists call “the courage to be” </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers should help students internalize the world and make it their own </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers must strive to reach each student individually, although each comes from different backgrounds and experiences </li></ul>
  14. 15. Cultivating Creativity <ul><li>Allow students to make their own choices about individual projects </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest projects that encourage the imagination </li></ul><ul><li>Put student work on display for other students and teachers to see </li></ul>
  15. 16. Addressing the “courage to be” <ul><li>Make students responsible for completing their work on time- use contracts </li></ul><ul><li>Have students decide classroom rules with the understanding they will be responsible for following them </li></ul><ul><li>Let students choose personal ways to express themselves </li></ul>
  16. 17. Why Should We Encourage Students to Follow Lead Authentic Lives? <ul><li>“ How many times have we read or heard about successful writers, athletes, musicians, or artists who rejected attempts by parents, teachers, counselors, and peers to dictate and control their destinies by insisting that they pursue a more conventional line of work? What would the destinies of these successful people have been had they succumbed to these external influences?” (Hunter) . </li></ul>
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