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Existentialism

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evan werner

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of Existentialism

Chapter 1 What is Existentialism? Origins of Existentialism -Began in the mid 19th century
-Existentialism existed before the term was coined.
-The first thinkers who expressed significant existentialist ideas were Soren Kierkegaard and then Frederick Nietzsche. It gained more shape and definition in the works of Martin Heidegger, and came to more know with works by Jean-Paul Sartre.
-Soren Kierkegaard is considered to be the first existentialist philosopher
-The writings of Soren Kierkegaard provided the base upon which later thinkers and artists built up the base of existential philosophy.
-His principal concerns were with how people responded under crisis, and the choices one made in the shaping of one’s life.
So, he argued that what we are, is what we do. We cannot be guided by society, we can only act authentically and be true to ourselves. So we should choose how to act for ourselves, not be driven by society. In this way we can accept responsibility and make our own choices. This, in essence is actually the foundations of existentialism. Important Literary Scholars How to apply Existentialism Chapter 2 Texts that have been Critiqued Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Existentialism is a 19th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and the way humans find themselves existing in the world. The notion is that humans exist and from there on they spend a lifetime changing their life through examining themselves. Soren Kierkegaard A form of literary criticism, existentialism seeks to analyze literary works with emphasis on the struggle to define meaning and identity in the face of solitude and indifference. The way to apply existentialism is by establishing how it is being used in a piece of literature. Kierkegaard, known for being the first existentialist, believed in the three stages of life that consisted of the aesthetic stage, ethical stage, and religious stage. Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher deeply interested in human psychology and Christian ethics The aesthetic stage is the point in a persons life where they only do what their senses say that their body likes. In the ethical stage the person develops their own personal system of morals. Lastly, the religious stage the person has learned to accept faith over reason. Friedrich Nietzsche Nietzsche, a German philosopher, was commonly known for his belief that God is dead. The main part to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves the questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies. Jean-Paul Sartre Sartre, a French philosopher, was one of the key figures in philosophy of existentialism, and one of the leading figures in the 20th-century of expanding existentialism. Sartre's main idea is that people, as humans, are "condemned to be free". Sartre was also the first existentialist to coin the term existentialism. Step 1: Understand the concept and importance of existentialism in the story.

Step 2: Identify the themes of existentialism and existential questions in the story.

Step 3: Write an essay on how existentialism relates to the story. Important Existentialist Quotes Sartre - "Man makes himself." Kierkegaard - “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Nietzsche - "...convictions might be more dangerous enemies of the truth than lies." Things Fall Apart It would be an error of judgment, however, to settle upon Things Fall Apart as an exemplar of literary existentialism. The fact of Umoufian society’s inherent unanimism disqualifies the novel at a fundamental level from such a definition. Even when, as in the case of Obierika and his meditation on the sad exiling of his friend Okonkwo from the clan for the inadvertent killing of the son of a clansman, the interrogation of the blind codes of justice that the tribe enforces is short-circuited in his mind when he turns penultimately to a proverb: ‘As the elders said, if one finger brought oil it soiled the others’. This then allows Obierika to retreat from arriving at a conclusion that would condemn the contradictory moral norms of his society. But perhaps the most pertinent disqualification is provided in the character of Okonkwo himself. Throughout the novel he is represented as someone for whom the changes in his society do not register in his consciousness either explicitly or subliminally as transitions that need to be negotiated, but only as signs of the reprehensible departure from masculine and heroic norms that must be upheld at all costs. In other words he has no ambivalence towards his collective past. Rather, he is defeated by certainty. Harry Potter Series Existentialism in Harry Potter is a discussion of Jean-Paul Sartre's atheistic existential philosophy in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The thesis evaluates three main characters, Harry Potter, Severus Snape, and Lord Voldemort, and the ways in which their choices and lifestyles exhibit elements from Jean-Paul Sartre's atheistic existentialism, demonstrating the practical application of atheistic existentialism in real life. The Lord of the Flies The book is mainly divided into three parts. Chapter One analyzes the absurdity of the world—nucleus war brings the children to a deserted island, later the island changes into a slaughterhouse. This chapter aims to explain the absurdity of the world by illustrating the world of chaos and irrationality. This is the same as Sartre’s viewpoint“the absurdity of the world”. Chapter Two analyzes the alienation of the world in the novel, including alienation between“I”and“me”, and alienation between“Being”with“Others”. The good nature degenerates into barbarism and harmonious relations change into hostile relations, which is identified with Sartre’s philosophical idea of“alienation”and“Being with Others”. Chapter Three deals with the freedom of making a choice and its corresponding responsibility, including freedom to social restriction and freedom to maintain individuality. This embodies Sartre’s core viewpoint“freedom”. While it is argued that F. Scott Fitzgerald emulated Shakespeare in his novel The Great Gatsby through his incorporation of tragic character flaws, his incorporation of existentialist ideas is much more apparent. The character Jay Gatsby embodies three main principles of existentialism: Gatsby is the brave, nonconformist individual combating absurdity and inhumanity; he created a second life for himself in order to win Daisy's love; and he preserved his separateness as an emblem of his independence. The Great Gatsby Existentialism is very often connected with negative emotions, such as anxiety (worrying), dread (a very strong fear), and mortality (awareness of our own death). Questions about existence are often relate to existentialist ideas and thoughts. The end!
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