Notes on Existentialism
Compiled for PSY 345 (Fall 2004)
Existentialism provides a moving account of the agony of being in the world. The spirit of existentialism has a long history in philosophy. But it became a major movement in the second half of the 20th century. Existentialism is not a systematic body of thought like Marxism or psychoanalysis. Instead, it is more like an umbrella under which a very wide range of thinkers struggled with questions about the meaning of life. Much of the appeal and popularity of Existentialism is due to the sense of confusion, the crisis, and the feeling of rejection and rootlessness that Europeans felt during World War II and its aftermath. ...view middle of the document...
Camus describes Sisyphus condemned by the gods to push a stone up a hill over and over, only to have it roll back down each time he reaches the top. A task that can never be completed. But he finds meaning in the fact that Sisyphus at least gets to decide each time whether to carry on or end it all. Camus says, "The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Although there can never be any meaning in Sisyphus’ task, there is meaning is choosing each time to continue. Despite encompassing a staggering range of philosophical, religious, and political ideologies, the underlying concepts of existentialism are simple: Mankind has free will. Life is a series of choices, creating stress. Few decisions are without any negative consequences. Some things are irrational or absurd, without explanation. If one makes a decision, he or she must follow through.
Notes on Existentialism
by Tanweer Akram The fundamental problem of existentialism is concerned with the study of being. The human being's existence is the first and basic fact; the human being has no essence that comes before his existence. The human being, as a being, is nothing. This nothingness and the non-existence of an essence is the central source of the freedom the human being faces in each and every moment. The human being
Existentialism Notes has liberty in view of his situation, in decisions which makes himself and sets himself to solves his problems and live in the world. Thrown into the world, the human being is condemned to be free. The human being must take this freedom of being and the responsibility and guilt of his actions. Each action negates the other possible courses of action and their consequences; so the human being must be accountable without excuse. The human being must not slip away from his responsibilities. The human being must take decisions and assume responsibilities. There is no significance in this world, this universe. The human being cannot find any purpose in life; his existence is only a contingent fact. His being does not emerge from necessity. If a human being rejects the false pretensions, the illusions of his existence having a meaning, he encounters the absurdity, the futility of life. The human being's role in the world is not predetermined or fixed; every person is compelled to make a choice. Choice is one thing the human being must make. The trouble is that most often the human being refuses to choose. Hence, he cannot realize his freedom and the futility of his existence. Basically existence is of two types: authentic and inauthentic forms of existence. Authentic existence is contrasted with dynamic and is the being-foritself, rising from the human being's bad faith, by which the human being moves away from the burden of responsibility, through this beliefs in dogma and by regarding himself as subject to outside influences and his actions to be predetermined. There is a striking contrast...