Existentialism and the Three Main Philosophies
The Existentialistic Cartoon Have you ever had the feeling that your existence meant nothing in the entire scheme of the world? - Existentialism and the Three Main Philosophies introduction?? That feeling of meaninglessness in it’s broadest form is part of the Existentialistic philosophy. Existentialism in the simplest definition according to My Existence is Absurd is defined as “the sense of meaninglessness and nothingness of human existence and the anxiety and depression which pervade each human life” ( The core philosophy stays constant but any farther than that the definition of what an acceptable Existentialistic lifestyle is frayed.
There were three main philosophers who had varying and sometimes contradictory statements about existentialism, they are Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre. Their different philosophies are explained in the New Yorker Magazine’s cartoon Forlornaments: Tools to Drain Individual and Team Spirit by Alex Gregory. There is a cartoon for each depiction of existentialism. At the root word of the title Forlornaments, the word forlorn means pitiful, abandoned and unlikely to succeed. It can be gathered that the title is already poking fun at the Existentialistic mindset.
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These Forlornaments are tools to drain the individual and team spirit according to Gregory. So Gregory’s take on existentialism is negative, basically a way to loose morale and make people unhappy, in such ways as giving up all pleasures, not being active in society, politics, religion and technology. However the opposite is said for the philosophers who believe the only way to get out of suffering is by embracing the anguish that comes in life. Each philosopher’s view is a Forlornament in the cartoon and differs from the others, each cartoon can speak differently for both Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre.
The philosopher Kierkegaard, believed that humans were not designed for worldly pleasures. He goes on by stating that we begin our meaningless life through pain of birth and die a painful death. So any human pleasures are worthless and unnecessary. The only way to reach the pinnacle of his beliefs one must disregard all worldly and human pleasures and embrace the bleak existence in our lives. Which is why Kierkegaard’s stance is depicted as a ceramic coffee mug which is described as “Give up all human endeavor is ultimately futile” (My Existence is Absurd, 322).
Which falls directly to what Kierkegaard believes additionally, the price of the mug which is $9. 99 has it’s own meaning. Compared to the other cartoons $9. 99 is a bargain because just believing in and giving up is easy in contrast to total isolation. Gregory, uses the price of the Forlornaments because people buy into gimmicks and jump to the next big thing. A ceramic mug is very fragile in nature and can be shattered easily, this relates to how Kierkegaard’s beliefs were not very stable and people could usually move from one belief to another.
His belief of God as the only way to happiness once the believers dismissed all society is another big point of Keirkegaard. His preaching of God as the ultimate goal may seem very empty which is why the ceramic coffee mug remains empty as well. Kierkegaard is one off-chute of the over-arching study of existentialism. The next philosopher, Nietzsche is very different compared to Kierkegaard’s view of existence. He claimed that God was dead and the belief in God was fading, therefore explaining that God was a dependency and also holding existentialists back from the true philosophy.
So he believed that following God was negative and asked that people should be their own God. “Human beings must now find the courage themselves to become gods in a world without God” (My Existence is Absurd, 325). It makes people independent in their own existence, which means not having a tainted mind with other societal and structured beliefs. It is a very personal independent way of life that Nietzsche believe in. Gregory’s cartoon that relates to Nietzsche’s stance is the Icarus Poster.
The poster is a picture of Icarus which is a tragic story where Icarus gets his wings from his father and he flies to close to the sun. It turns out that he falls and drowns. The quote on the poster is “Fly too high, pay the price”. This all relates to Nietzsche because he believes it is okay to be your own God, but not too much. Hubris means pride and arrogance which was the fall of Icarus so Nietzsche wants followers to not to do. The price of the poster is mid-range ($29. 99) because it costs much more in a person’s life and requires much more effort and time than the ceramic mug.
The unframed poster is important too because people are free to move around and experience life and be independent. The philosopher Nietzsche is a different take on the basic belief of existentialism. The last philosopher, Sartre took a different stance on existentialism. To reach the best Existentialistic philosophy followers should have bad faith. Also they should alienate their relationships with others, to make themselves isolated. Being self deceptive, and becoming an outsider to society is the best way reach Sartre’s philosophy.
This is by the most challenging way to reach full existentialism because total isolation and crushing alienation is very difficult to achieve fully. In addition, according to Sartre “human beings have no essence, there is no human nature which they share. “(My Existence is Absurd, 370). Gregory’s interpretation of Sartre’s philosophy is that you will always be an outsider. The cartoon is a person practicing the intense isolation depicted with a wall between what is supposed to be society and relationships.
This off chute costs the most because it correlates to how difficult to buy into Sartre’s philosophy. Fully believing in this is also the most expensive upon someone’s life, costing their entire existence to devout pure existentialism. The wire sculpture is immobile which means it cannot change or fluctuate. All three philosophers have varying takes upon their own practice of existentialism. Kierkegaard focuses on preaching that to follow God you must believe that your life is meaningless. Nietzsche believes that God is dead and no we are on our own as individuals.
Finally Sartre controls believes that being an outsider and solely alienating relationships can hold the true quest for existentialism. But after all these philosophers display their visions a question arises, who is correct? Who has all the answers, and why is this important to us in the modern day? The answer is not simple, at times in our history as humans we are at our lowest as a society, we offer no hope and no drive. The existentialism movement was sparked by a need in the change of think and actions. The World Wars rocked some people’s dreams, which is why they look upon a vibrant new philosophy, existentialism.
The main reason why existentialism is important to who we are is because, we need to be reminded that possibly our world is meaningless. Today we as a society are so technology based and social networking driven that we have lost sight of who we are as individuals and how meaningless are lives can be perceived. Having a fresh take upon how we see our world keeps us in check and self aware of who we are. Existentialism, whether it be any philosopher, or cartoon satirist reminds us of how our lives could possibly have no meaning to them at all.