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Existentialism vs Essentialism

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    A belief that things have a set of characteristics that make them what they are, & that the task of science and philosophy is their discovery & expression; the doctrine that essence is prior to existence While, philosophical theory or approach, that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free & responsible agent, determining their own development through acts of the will. Existentialism * is a philosophical term which posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives.

    Existentialism asserts that “existence precedes essence,” which is in opposition to the classical doctrine that “essence precedes existence. ” The claim “existence precedes essence” is a rejection of the idea that human nature has an end or goal. In this sense, humans are free to choose their own destiny. * is a philosophical term which asserts that there is a distinction between essential and non-essential (contingent or accidental) characteristics of an object. Essentialist assumes that objects have essences and that an object’s identity is its essence.

    Aristotle distinguished between an object’s essence and its existence. Its essence is “what a thing is. Its essence is “that a thing is. ” An objects essence is the collection of all the universals that it possesses, which if it did not possess them, it would cease to be. There are other sorts of properties that an object possesses but that do not make the object what it is. Furthermore, essentialist holds that natural things do have essences. In the existentialist view, the problem of being must take precedence over that knowledge in philosophical investigations.

    Being cannot be made a subject of objective enquiry; it is revealed to individual by reflection on his own unique concrete existence in time and space. Existence is basic: it is the fact of the individual’s presence and participation in a changing and potentially dangerous world. Each self- aware individual understands his own existence in terms of his experience of himself and his situation. The self of which he is aware is a thinking being which has beliefs, hopes, fears, desires, the need to find a purpose, and a will that can determine his actions.

    Countermanding existentialism is often difficult, often because its ideas conflict with other major trends in the thought of western and eastern philosophies alike. Many people consider existentialism to be a dark and pessimistic hilltop’s, void of hope. However, the opinions of existentialist thinkers were often optimistic about the future of human beings. Existentialism can also be difficult to understand because it does not consist of a specific dogma, or a set of metaphysical claims. Existentialism is not a definitive claim about the world or the people in it.

    It is marked, instead, by a set of themes about the human condition and the struggles and freedoms that humans must endure, or perhaps embrace. Despite the various and often conflicting views held by many existentialist philosophers, there are several main incepts Of existentialism that are present in virtually all their works: 1 . Sentient beings, especially humans, have free will. 2. Humans are responsible for the consequences of their decisions. 3. Extremely few, if any, decisions are void of negative consequence. 4. Even when part of a group, each person acts and decides as an individual, and is accounTABLE as such. . The world is indifferent towards humanity. The definition of existentialism is often hard to pin down, as there are conflicting views within existentialist thought, variations upon the ideas, and a number of so-called existentialists who rejected the title. Perhaps the central feature of existentialism that can be seen in these points is the focus on the individual. Existentialists reject the idea that there is a fundamentally true human nature. Instead, they point out that those who seek to understand human nature undervalue the individual. The individual is free, as Sartre says, “radically free”.

    The individual can shape its own life and defy its so-called nature. The individual makes decisions and bears the responsibility for its actions alone. Existentialism is a philosophy of the individual and its struggle through life ? a focus on the subjective life that we all actually live, rather Han a search for objective truths external to us. Topics in Existentialism * The Absurd * Existentialism & Religion * Existentialism & Politics * Existentialism & Phenomenology * Existentialist Philosophers Absurdist * The idea of the absurd is a common theme in many existentialist works, particularly in Campus.

    Absurdity is the notion of contrast between two things. As Campus explains it in The Myth of Sisyphus us: * The absurd is born out of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonTABLE silence of the world. * This view, which is shared by Sartre, is that humanity must live n a world that is and will forever be hostile or indifferent towards them. The universe will never truly care for humanity the way we seem to want it to. The atheist view of this statement is that people create stories, or gods, which in their minds transcend reality to fill this void and attempt to satisfy their need. The philosophy that encompasses the absurd is referred to as absurdist. While absurdist may be considered a branch of existentialism, it is a specific idea that is not necessary to an existentialist view. * It’s easy to highlight the absurdity of the human quest for purpose. It’s common to assume that everything must have a purpose, a higher reason for existence. However, if one thing has a higher purpose, what is the reason for that purpose? Each new height must then be validated by a higher one. This evokes the common theological question: if humankind was created by God, who or what created God? And, if God answers to a higher power, to what power does that answer? ) * SёRene Segregated, although religious himself, declared faith in God to be absurd, since it is impossible to know God, or to understand His purpose. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Campus described suicide as the most appropriate and rational reaction to the absurd ? but admitted that this is not a very rewarding or worthwhile reaction. * Critics of absurdist tend to focus on two areas of the philosophy. The first is the proposition, as Campus described, that life’s absence of meaning seems to remove any reason for living.

    Campus answers this with methods of living with the absurd: through coping or through revolt ? and by pointing out that this lack of purpose presents humankind with true freedom. Others consider the theory itself to be arrogant, stating that although the purpose of life may not be apparent, hat does not confirm that it does not exist. * Existentialism and Religion * Although the theme of humankind living in an indifferent or even hostile world is prevalent throughout existentialism, existentialism isn’t necessarily atheist.

    Many people identify this philosophy as part of a turn away from religion, but this is not always the case. Some existentialists, such as Segregated were religious themselves. An existentialist may still have religious beliefs, but does not rely on them. Consider this: * Let’s compare the existentialist and the religious at the point when they are ready to leave omen. Both may love their parents and have nothing but gratitude for the work they’ve done. The “religious”, in this comparison are the ones who visit their parents every weekend, and occasionally borrow money.

    The existentialists, however, are aware of the necessity of their independence. They may still visit their parents, but not with such routine or need. As British writer Anita Broken put it: * Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or * Existentialism can exist within and outside of religious context society. Cause it focuses on the individual within the concepts of human nature and the struggle for life. Aside, perhaps, from the idea of an indifferent world, existentialism is not (by itself) about making metaphysical claims.

    The focus of existential philosophy is to examine the individual in the world, rather than the world itself. * Hence, some philosophers, such as Gabriel Marcel developed their own breed of existentialism within the confines of their religion. Marcel, specifically, focused on the human-universe relationship side of existentialism, but from the perspective of his Roman- Catholic faith. Existentialism and Politics Existentialism does not dictate a specific political standpoint, but the stress on individuality and choice that this philosophy represents do have a political side.

    Many of the well-known existentialists of the world fought actively for individual freedom. The definition of freedom varies among people who employ existentialist concepts, which is responsible partly for the political diversity of this group. Many of the more anarchist existentialists sought freedom from government, stressing that making mistakes and learning from one’s decisions is only natural for humanity. Others, such as Sartre, saw communism as a truer freedom, as they were no longer burdened with the necessities of life, such as food and shelter, and were TABLE to more actively pursue self-improvement.

    Despite this diversity in definition, the principal concept remains: that freedom is the essence of being; To restrict a person of freedom is to rob him of that which makes him alive. Existentialism ; Phenomenology The relationship between phenomenology and existentialism is a close one. Phenomenology shares several of the same ideas as its sibling, and the line between the two is often unclear. Founded by Edmund Huskers, phenomenology is a philosophical model that was made to be free of presupposition.

    The idea is to study and describe objects and events from the position of observers, rather than to make claims about some objective reality. Anything that is not immediately conscious is to be excluded. Rather than deductive or empirical methods, Hustler’s method was to rely on the information gathered by the senses and to throw away all scientific or metaphysical knowledge or beliefs in order to study phenomenon more accurately. Phenomenology is sometimes compared to idealism, the atypical claim that all that truly exist are minds.

    Phenomenology does not make this claim. Instead, phenomenology merely focuses on the epistemological claim that all we know is our subjective reality, coupled with the normative claim that we ought to avoid the meaningless attempt to seek out some objective reality. The importance is placed on the subjective. This importance on human cognition rather than belief or assumption is mirrored in existentialism-Albert Campus takes a phenomenological view to the world with his descriptions of knowledge: This heart within me I can feel, and I judge hat it exists.

    This world around me I can feel, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction. While the rest of philosophy is often focuses on how things are and how we are TABLE or unTABLE to perceive the truth in the world, phenomenology counts that our perceptions and internal experience are what matters. Existentialism mirrors this idea in its description of human nature. Psychologists, sociologists and philosophers alike have searched for so-called ‘truths” of human nature.

    Existentialism holds that there are no (or at least few) universal truths about unman nature ? the individual is what is important, and the individual is free to make his or her life in any way imaginTABLE. Together, existentialism and phenomenology move the focus away from facts about the world towards facts about the individual self. For phenomenology, that means changing the way we view metaphysics and epistemological claims. For existentialism, it generates a normative ethic on how to live a worthwhile life. (Note: This is not the full scope of the phenomenological movement, but was meant only to explain its relevance to existentialism. Existentialist Philosophers The Minds of Existentialism . SёRene Segregated Often considered to be the first of the existentialists, Segregated was a religious philosopher who stressed the need for individual choice. 2. Jean- Paul Sartre Sartre betrayed humans as lonely creatures, and viewed the freedom of choice that many existentialists valued as a burden, due largely to the responsibility that follows any choice. Sartre is one of the most prominent minds in existentialism, and can be credited for bringing this philosophy to the attention of a much larger audience. . Albert Campus Moving beyond Sartre existentialism, Campus explored the meaninglessness ND absurd nature of the human condition. Many Others Other existential philosophers include Simons De Behavior, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel and Franz Kafka. Existentialist philosophy was also influenced by many other works, including those of Frederica Nietzsche, G. W. F. Hegel, Food Dostoevsky and Edmund Huskers. 1 . SёRene Segregated (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher who contributed greatly to existentialism.

    Segregated seemed to believe in the idea of “subjective truth”?that is, the relationship one has with what he believes supersedes than the construct of the belief system itself. For example, it is more important to live by the teachings of one’s religion than to simply believe in them. ) Segregated wrote under various pseudonyms, including Johannes De silent for Fear and Trembling, as well as A, B and Judge William in various parts of Either/Or. His use of pseudonyms wasn’t to conceal his authorship, however, but to represent different points of view and separate his own philosophical views from other explorations.

    He writes: In the pseudonymous works, there is not a single word which is mine. Segregated used different names to represent different viewpoints. 2. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French writer and philosopher who is one of the leading figures in 20th-congregationalisms. He imagines men as lonely creatures in a meaningless world. He emphasizes the importance of choice and responsibility. Sartre influences include many of the German philosophers, especially Heidegger, of whom he was a student. He also had a close relationship with feminist writer Simons De Behavior.

    Sartre was offered various awards, including the L©goon denouncer and a Nobel Prize, both of which he declined. 3. Albert Campus A French writer from Algeria, Albert Campus was famous for is deep, yet concise, literary pieces. In addition to his novels, essays and plays, Campus was a journalist, and during World War II, a member of the French resistance against German occupation. His philosophy, which is described in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, centers around the absurdity of the human condition. Campus was labeled as an existentialist but rejected the title. Campus brings a certain humanism to the existing existentialism of his time.

    The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Sisyphus. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition hat Scopes would give water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.

    It is said that Sisyphus, being near to death, rashly wanted to test his wife?s love. He ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square. Sisyphus woke up in the underworld. And there, annoyed by an obedience so contrary to human love, he obtained from Pluto permission to return to earth in order to chastise his wife. But when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of anger, warnings were of no avail.

    Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf, the sparkling sea, and the smiles of earth. A decree of the gods was necessary. Mercury came and seized the impudent man by the collar and, snatching him from his joys, lead him forcibly back to the underworld, where is rock was ready for him. You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakTABLE penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.

    This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, ND push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands.

    At the very end of his long effort measured by Kyle’s space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward towel world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! See that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end.

    That hour like a breathing- space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock. If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at he same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd.

    But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn. Fifth descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. This word is not too much. Again I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and the sorrow was in the beginning.

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