• People have complete
freedom to determine your
own fate and through that,
a potential identity comes
into being through a
series of conscious
choices or actions
inaction) that determine
the person we are/will be.
Therefore, the self is
always in process.
• With no absolute right or wrong there is no business
telling others how to behave or imposing standards from
the outside that the individual should develop himself.
• The practice of marketing the self and the self’s career as
brands with the focus on the “customer purchasing
• So personal branding then is the “process by which we
market ourselves to others” (Schawbel 2009).
• No grand scheme in which we all play a part. No ultimate
meaning, instead, each person has to forge meaning for
themselves and therefore no ones decisions have any
interrelationship with another’s.
• Existence itself is difficult, confusing, frustrating and even
at its very end refuses to divulge any meaning other than
what the individual has created for him or herself.
• Since approaching and grappling with life’s problems
would be done in an individualized way.
• Skill is repetitive, and no two problems are exactly alike,
this repetition would be ineffective.
• Since there is no absolute standards of morality where
people can turn.
• No explanation of why we are alive
instead, we are “abandoned” with
nothing more than an awareness of
our surroundings and a need to
cope with surroundings in order to
• Focuses on limitless capacity for
ethically and intellectually engaging
people to enact change in the
• Positive change is imperative for
the true existentialist otherwise
existence is a complete void- Be
something or else life lacks
• Perspectives, aesthetics, and approaches to dealing with
the world and its inherent difficulties
• Deals with the recurring problem of finding meaning in
• The individual must create meaning for him/her self.
• Gets a reputation for being pessimistic and meaningless
or absurd and is associated with things like angst,
boredom, fear and again- pessimism.
• Rejection of Authority is prevalent.
• The only authority a person has is himself- answerable to
• It makes people responsible for their own actions. Only
through self-actualization and self-determination can a
problem be viewed realistically to get solutions that work
• People are also required to put thought into personal
• This gives people more personal responsibility but
ultimately gives people a sense of positivity and freedom
as they see more control over their circumstances.
• Søren Kierkegaard
• Martin Heidegger
• Friedrich Nietzsche
• 1813-1855, Danish
• Considered to be the first Existential Philosopher
• Insisted on the distinctiveness of personal
experience/subjectivity. He argues, “subjectivity is truth, truth is
subjectivity.” Since how one acts is, from the ethical
perspective, more important than any matter of fact, truth is to
be found in subjectivity rather than objectivity.
• Kierkegaard was discussing the Christian who wants to be a
Christian living in a world that has abandoned Christianity.
• Kierkegaard expressly discusses alienation- that human
beings are alienated from God because they are living too
much in the world. Individuals need to gain their souls from the
world because it actually belongs to God. His concern is about
the inner fight for faith.
• German philosopher known for his existential and
phenomenological explorations of the "question
• Maintained that our way of questioning defines
• As with Kierkegaard and Sartre, Heidegger
believed the existence of a physical body
preceded the essence of self. At some point in
the development process, a being becomes
aware that it exists. This pivotal point in time is
when essence begins to form; the individual
decides to acknowledge and embrace an
essence at this moment.
• Heidegger is a controversial figure, largely for his
affiliation with Nazism prior to 1934, for which he
neither apologized nor expressed regret, except
in private when he called it "the biggest stupidity
of his life- this calls to question Heidegger's
thought and his connection to National Socialism.
Dasien Sorge was Heidegger's term for concern and caring about
the self and its existence. When confronted with the world and
other beings, the individual feels anxiety and dread. The world
appears complex and unsafe -- which it is. As a result, the
human being, Dasien, must care for itself as no one else can
• Concern, or Sorge, is the ability to care about the self, in relation
to phenomena. This belief that death defines life complements
Søren Kierkegaard's thought that God does not exist, but is real.
• Existence, or Existenz, represents knowing one is and is
• Finally, moods, or Stimmungen, are reactions to other beings,
• The five modes of Dasein described by Heidegger are:
authenticity, inauthenticity, everydayness, averageness,
and publicness. Authentic being represents a choice of
self and achievement. All other modes represent a failing
to embrace the individuality available to all people.
• A theory of knowledge that had a keen
interest in the problems of perception.
• The study of structures of experience or
consciousness (as experienced from
the first-person point of view).
• The study in phenomena-the
appearances of things or things AS they
appear in our experience or the way we
experience things, therefore the
meanings things have in OUR
• Studies conscious experience
experienced from the first person point
• Nilhism- belief that
values, ideas, etc.
have no worth or
• The denial of
existence as any
basis for knowledge or
• There is no meaning
or purpose to
• So in saying “God is dead” this was what he really meant:
• Nietzsche sought to draw the consequences of the death
of God, the collapse of any theistic support for morality
• In such a situation the individual is forced back upon
AKA. Personal responsibility
• On the one hand, if he is weakly
constituted he may fall victim to despair
in the face of nihilism, the recognition
that life has no instrinsic meaning.
• On the other hand, for a “strong” or
creative individual nihilism presents a
liberating opportunity to take
responsibility for meaning, to exercise
creativity by “transvaluing” her values,
establishing a new “order of rank.”
• (This is essential in a WW1-2 society
that desires a totally clean slate. Nihilism
gave people a blank page to create
Alienation- each individual is fundamentally alone
Individual and personal relations
Anxiety (life, death, extreme situations)
Meaning and absurdity
Social criticism- unmasking convention and social
• Religion and atheism
• Characters have specific dilemmas that speak to shared
problems of all humans
• Individuals get caught up in systems and bureaucracies
that were beyond understanding/beyond their control.
• Existence becoming a kind of control over personal
• Inherent terror of existence, embraces the absurdity of
• Life as ultimately absurd and as meaningful or
meaningless as one chose to make it.
• Spare, minimalist settings
• Stories are peopled by beings that seem incomplete and
• conflict – are sometimes so obfuscating as to frustrate
and distort meaning entirely. Characters do not know
where they are or what their purpose is or their purpose
lacks discernible meaning.
• Settings: A mirror is held up to the insanity of modern
existence. Seemingly fantastic and meaningless settings
mimic those same settings which people inhabit daily,
from the office to the mall to the subway train. Anyone
who has stopped in the middle of their daily routine and
realized, “This is crazy,” is a co-conspirator with Samuel
• Audiences often find some existentialists like Beckett
extremely frustrating and inaccessible, but one could
argue that inaccessibility is precisely the point.
20th century’s greatest existential thinker
“Existence precedes essence”• What makes you who you are by what you make
• Only person to ever decline the Nobel Prize in Literature
• We are all “condemned to be free” Believed that there is
no authority that defines freedom or provides rules or
guarantees decisions. Meaning there is total
responsibility on the individual for all actions.
• Life commitment to activism and advancement of social
• Sartre took existentialism in a very positive direction. He
advocated for the downtrodden, and continually struggled for a
more egalitarian society based on the worth of each individual.
• “Existentialism is a Humanism” article:
• Background on Sartre, Existentialism and Humanism:
• In The Nausea, Sartre tells that
story of an academic who becomes
aware of the intense singularity of
his own existence.
• Objects and people outside
personal experience- even if
attempting to provide meaning.
• The realization of complete
freedom, but also complete
• The title explains perfectly the
feelings of the protagonist when
confronted with his own essential
• This an imperative towards action.
Humans had ultimate responsibility
for their own actions.
• 1913-1960, born in French Algeria
• French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist,
• Awarded in 1957
• His views contributed to the rise of Absurdism
• Opposed Nihilism, believed in individual freedom
• The point of philosophy is life: “The preceding merely
defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.”
• In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the
human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life
and the human inability to find any.
• He emphasizes the fact that happiness is fleeting and that the
human condition is one of mortality; for Camus, this is cause
for a greater appreciation for life and happiness.
• In particular it is the confrontation between our longing or
nostalgia for order, meaning, and clarity on the one hand with
the chaos, confusion, and irrationality of the world on the other
hand; between the human longing for happiness and the evil
in the world. The absurd is not in man alone nor in the world
alone, but only in the juxtaposition of the two: “The world in
itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is
absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild
longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart.”
• Suicide is not a logical consequence of the absurd. It attempts
to escape the absurd by removing one of its elements: the
human longing for order (philosophical) or the unbearable,
unintelligible world (physical). One must live with the absurd,
not try to escape it.
1. Philosophical Suicide. The existential leap of faith to believe
in an ultimate order and intelligibility, but one inaccessible to
man, is philosophical suicide. It kills the human longing for an
order and clarity it can understand.
2. Physical Suicide. Killing oneself is an attempt to escape the
absurd rather than facing it. One cannot accept the world, so
one ends their existence in it. This is not a consequence of
the absurd, but an escape from it.
1. Revolt. This is a refusal to accept the
absurd without trying to escape it and
without renouncing either the world or our
desire for happiness and order.
2. Freedom. In a world devoid of external
significance and meaning, man is free to
create his own happiness. The loss of
external values is also a liberation from
our dependence on them.
3. Passion. Recognizing and living with the
absurd entails a passionate
consciousness of each moment of
experience. What we lose in quality of
experience derived from external values
we gain in quantity of consciousness and
passion derived from our awareness and
• The absurd man must find himself happy. The human will
to happiness is frustrated by the world as long as we
make our happiness dependent on the world by seeking
to escape the absurd. Once we revolt and freely create
our own happiness, we find the only real happiness
appropriate to the human condition. We find a human
• The Plague, a novel recounting an outbreak of the
bubonic plague in a small port city. Those trapped within
the city walls with the disease are forced to summon
inner reserves of strength and determination in the face
of the ultimate negative force – death.
• His narrator emphasizes the ideas that we ultimately
have no control, and irrationality of life is inevitable.
Additionally, he further illustrates the human reaction
towards the "absurd"; The Plague represents how the
world deals with the philosophical notion of the Absurd, a
theory which Camus himself helped to define.