Existentialism and positivism Cathy Atuhaire BNS,PPM
Definition• Existentialism is a philosophical movement which claims that individual human beings have full responsibility for creating the meanings of their own lives .
THEMES• Dread.• Boredom• Alienation.• The absurd.• Freedom.• Commitment.• Nothingness".
MAJOR CONCEPTS• Descartes believed humans could doubt all existence, but could not will away or doubt the thinking consciousness, whose reality is therefore more certain than any other reality.• Existentialism decisively rejects this argument, asserting instead that as conscious beings, humans would always find themselves already in a world, a prior context and a history that is given to consciousness, and that humans cannot think away that world. It is inherent and indubitably linked to consciousness.• In other words, the ultimate and unquestionable reality is not thinking consciousness but, according to Heidegger, "being in the world".
CONCEPTS CONT.• Existence precedes essence• That a human beings existence precedes and is more fundamental than any meaning which may be ascribed to human life: humans define their own reality.
cont• How did I get into the world?• Why was I not asked about it• why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings?• How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality?• Why should I be involved? ,Isnt it a matter of choice?• And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager I have something to say about this. Is there no manager?• To whom shall I make my complaint?
Cont.• Heidegger coined the term "thrownness" to describe this idea that human beings are "thrown" into existence without having chosen it .• If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be".
Cont.• Kierkegaard also focussed on the deep anxiety of human existence — the feeling that there is no purpose, indeed nothing, at its core. Finding a way to counter this nothingness, by embracing existence, is the fundamental theme of existentialism
Cont.• Reason as a defense against anxiety• Existentialism asserts that people actually make decisions based on what has meaning to them rather than what is rational.• Rejection of reason as the source of meaning is a common theme of existentialist thought, as is the focus on the feelings of anxiety and dread that we feel in the face of our own radical freedom and our awareness of death.• Kierkegaard saw rationality as a mechanism humans use to counter their existential anxiety, their fear of being in the world. "If I can believe that I am rational and everyone else is rational then I have nothing to fear and no reason to feel anxious about being free."
Cont.• Sartre saw rationality as a form of "bad faith ," an attempt by the self to impose structure on a world of phenomena — "the other .• Camus believed that society and religion falsely teach humans that "the other" has order and structure.For Camus, when an individual "consciousness," longing for order, collides with "the others" lack of order, a third element is born: "the absurd .“• Meaning is not provided by the natural order, but rather can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by human beings actions and interpretations.
Cont.• Belief in God is a personal choice made on the basis of a passion, of faith, observation, or experience.• Just as atheistic existentialists can freely choose not to believe, theistic existentialists can freely choose to believe in God and could, despite ones doubt, have faith that God exists and that God is good.
Cont.• A third type of existentialism is agnostic existentialism.• The agnostic existentialist makes no claim to know, or not know, if there is a "greater picture" in play; he recognizes that the greatest truth is that which he chooses to act upon. He feels that to know the "greater picture," whether there is one or not, is impossible for human minds—or, if it is not impossible, that at least they have not found it yet.• Like Christian existentialists, the agnostic believes existence is subjective. However one feels about the issue, through the agnostic existentialists perspective, the act of finding knowledge of the existence of God often has little value because he feels it to be impossible, and believes it to be useless.
Complications of failing to find meaning• Behavioural problems• Anxiety.• Terror (dying).
POSITIVISM• Existential positivism is positive practical philosophy. It builds from a base of pragmatic scepticism, and is closely related to, though not strictly dependent on existential expressionism.• It bears on philosophical matters which depend in some way on subjective values, or upon some other kind of essential reference to our personal feelings and intuitions.
POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY• A philosophical synthesis from elements of the rational/empiricist and the romantic/existential aspects of western philosophy, overlaid on a substratum (naive philosophy) which is sceptical and expressionistic. In its less romantic elements the position is sceptical and in some respects positivistic, but the philosophy is also I hope, positive in a more ordinary sense.
Logical Positivism• Introduction• First-person observations from experience.• This movement offered a powerful vision of the possibilities for modern knowledge.
Doctrines of Logical Positivism• Language• Truth• Logic• verificationism proposes that assertions are meaningful only when their content meets a (minimal) condition about the ways in which we would go about determining their truth.• The major point is that much of what we try to say is meaningless blather.
The Logical Construction of the World• Cautious observation of nature comprises a great deal of worthwhile human knowledge.• The logical rigor of articles like "Testability and Meaning .
Ethical Emotivism• Attributions of value are not easily verifiable, so moral judgments may be neither true nor false, but as meaningless as those of metaphysics• Members of a society express their feelings about human behavior of various sorts.• stevenson worked out the full implications of postivistic theories for expressions of moral praise or blame.
Cont.• Analysis of moral language should focus instead on its unique function as a guide to human behavior, what Stevenson called the "magnetism" of moral terms.