Transcript of Existentialism
Existentialism Developement Jean-Paul Sartre Martin Heidegger Albert Camus Jean-Paul Sartre Most influencial philosopher of existentialism Coined the definitive phrase "existence precedes essense" (Sartre 17) First, we exist, meaning is made afterwards Wrote several books both expanding and elaborating the existentialist doctrine, as well as book and essays which defended the philosophy agains nay-sayers Martin Heidegger Origin: Kierkegaard & Nietzsche Soren Kierkegaard Often called the "father of existentialism" (Crowell) Saw the philosophical problem of existence through radical Christian faith "if there is a dimension to my being that is both meaningful and yet not governed by the rational standard of morality, by what standard is it governed? For unless there is some standard it is idle to speak of 'meaning'" (Crowell) Friedrich Nietzsche Took an athiest spin on Kierkegaard's thoughts Because there was no "pre-given" morality from religion, Nietzsche reasoned that there was no inherent meaning as well In his book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he introduced the übermensch as one who created his/her own value (Crowell) Literature Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis Illustrates the existentialist premise that induviduals fail to "hold fast to their own significance" ("Franz Kafka") About a man who transforms into a fly Fyodor Dostoevsky Notes From the Underground A series of rants given by an unnamed narrator who attempts to "crack the shackles of determinism" (Marino 191) considered the "greatest overture to existentialism ever written" (qtd in Marino 194) Considered by Sartre to be a great influence Has been called both a "great [philosopher]" as well as an "intellectual charlatan" (Marino 295) Thought being was a “vital mystery” to which other “philosophers in the West . . . fell asleep” (Marino 297) Da-sein: "our being is a being toward death" (Marino 298) Albert Camus Of the three central framers of existentialism, Albert Camus was the most involved in literature Identified the absurd as a struggle caused by the “terrible combination of the human hunger for meaning and the indifference of the universe” (Marino 439) The focal point of Camus' writing was often the absurd Wrote: Nausea, The Wall, Being and Nothingness, & Existentialism is a Humanism Wrote: Being and Time & An Intoduction to Metaphysics Wrote: The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall, & The Myth of Sisyphus i t e r a t u r e a t heater The Absurd Freedom Responsibility The Absurd Commonly used as a convention in existentialist literature manifests as a part of the situation which the protagonist must overcome The absurd is essentially, “being forced into an utterly meaningless [situation]” ("Literature" Drake) ex: In The Stranger, the protagonist is faced with tremendous fragmentation both within himself and within society. In turn, he is “forced to answer the existential questions” of being and meaning as a response to his absurd situation (“Literature” Drake) Freedom Freedom is a direct result of the absurd It is the the ultimate goal of the protagonist to conquer the absurd The lack of inherent purpose or meaning allows the protagonist to be“free to choose how they will respond" to the absurd (Willis) Therefore, it is possible for the existentialist hero to make both benificial and poor decisions; thus, protagotagonists are subject to existential success as well as existential failure Success: overcoming (accepting) the absurd Failure: being consumed by the absurd Existential themes of freedom can be discerned in Shakespeare's Hamlet, desite it's time period. Hamlet discerns the “larger [e]xistential questions” of his particular condition; however, he consistently “[fails] to act”, thus relinquishing his own sense of freedom ("Literature" Drake). ex: Responsibility Because humans are all free to choose how they interact with their situation, they are also ethically responsible for their actions In The Stranger, Meursault cannot blame others for his lifestyle, he can only accept the consequences of it, whatever they may be. As an existential hero, he must “[acknowledge] what [he] [did] with [his] life” in order to live authentically (Flynn 64) ex: Though moral concepts in existentialism are highly subjective, the presence of right and wrong remain universal enough to elicit responsibility Therefore, existential heroes are just “as responsible as [they] are free” (Flynn 8) Visual Art There was no single movement in art which directed correlate to existentialism. Likewise, existentialism was not a direct catalyst for any artistic movment specifically. Many existentialist philosophers agreed that visual art “more adequately [expressed] what the [they] [were] trying to conceptualize” (Flynn 16) Instead of depicting existentialism through subjects abstract expressionist paintings focused on the meaning of the artwork itself in order to illustrate existentialism as a whole ex: Abstract Expressionism Artists were often criticized for their lack of subjects and meaningless content; however, their paintings were highly exemplary of the meaningless human existence, where meaning is applied only after conception as in existentialism Theater of the Absurd Stylistically, existential theater is similar to existential literature Unlike visual art, there was a definative theme in the preformance arts: the Theater of the Absurd Demonstrated the profoundly disconnected and “incongruous” qualities typical of the existential problem in both a thematic and stylistic elements (Quick) ex: In Waiting for Godot, the characters Vladimir and Estragon struggle with both the “inability to understand or control [the] world” around them (Quick). Being “isolated in time and space,” the characters become easily detached and incoherent; thus, disrupting their own comprehension concerning reality and existence (Quick). n d . Crowell, Steven. "Existentialism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)."Stanford.edu. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 11 Oct. 2010.Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existentialism/>.Full transcript
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Willis, Wayne. "Prominent Themes in Existential Literature" People.Morehead-St.edu. Morehead State University. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://people.moreheadst.edu/fs/w.willis/existential.html>. WORKS