markova21
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... In simple, layman's terms, so ordinary people like me can get their head around it? Thanks !
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Xodrama.
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(Original post by markova21)
... In simple, layman's terms, so ordinary people like me can get their head around it? Thanks !
I don't really know either. But I think it means that from birth our thoughts are independant and free from influence from outside sources and not because of the social labeling society places on us because of our choices.
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markova21
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Thank you. ( Still don't fully understand) !!
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bingbong654
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Existentialism in today's terms, has almost become a word without meaning. When someone says they are having an existential crisis they just mean they're having a breakdown. Don't worry, existentialism is a word everyone uses but few actualy know where it came from!
Existentialism, as the existentialists meant it, means existence preceds essence. That's a quote from Satre. Satre was an atheist and so started with the fact that God didn't exist.
It's first necessary to explain what essence is. Essesnce is an aristotelian idea. Basically everything has an essence and it means purpose. A knife for example has the essence to cut things. The essence of a human is his purpose in life (or even the sum of all his decisions).
Now if God doesn't exist, then there is no creator to give us a purpose (our purpose is no longer to love God). Existentialism is just the statement that we existed before we had a purpose. Nobody gave us a purpose, we must make our own. Thus "man is condemed to be free". We are free to choose our way in life and nobody can choose for us.
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markova21
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Thank you,bingbong654. That helps, somewhat. Did Jean-Paul Sartre " invent" ( wrong word) Existentialism ? ( I read his Les Mains Sales in French when I was 16 but have no recollection what it was about).
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bingbong654
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(Original post by bingbong654)
Existentialism in today's terms, has almost become a word without meaning. When someone says they are having an existential crisis they just mean they're having a breakdown. Don't worry, existentialism is a word everyone uses but few actualy know where it came from!
Existentialism, as the existentialists meant it, means existence preceds essence. That's a quote from Satre. Satre was an atheist and so started with the fact that God didn't exist.
It's first necessary to explain what essence is. Essesnce is an aristotelian idea. Basically everything has an essence and it means purpose. A knife for example has the essence to cut things. The essence of a human is his purpose in life (or even the sum of all his decisions).
Now if God doesn't exist, then there is no creator to give us a purpose (our purpose is no longer to love God). Existentialism is just the statement that we existed before we had a purpose. Nobody gave us a purpose, we must make our own. Thus "man is condemed to be free". We are free to choose our way in life and nobody can choose for us.
As a result of all this choice, we may feel angst. Angst is the realisation of all our choices. We have moments of angst when we walk into a sweetshop and can't decide what to get. We are stuck in a state of indicision because we have so much choice. It's like when you bump into someone in a street and you both go one way, then the other and niether of you can move. Kierkegarrd said that "life can only be understood backwards, but we must live it forwords". This is a note on how we can understand our choices once we have made them, but otherwise we are stuck.
Existentialism is really an ethical theory. Satre used an example of a soldier who had to decide whether to fight in WW2 or stay at home and look after his mother. No ethical theory could tell him what to do. Existentialism says make your own choice, you are the captain of your soul. But that does not mean we should then have no morality and go around on murder sprees. We must choose as if we were to decide for the whole of morality.

In short when sombody says "existentialism" they have no idea what they are saying and just mean they are feeling sad. In reality it means we must choose our life. We have been abandoned by God and thus thrown into the world crying...
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bingbong654
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(Original post by markova21)
Thank you,bingbong654. That helps, somewhat. Did Jean-Paul Sartre " invent" ( wrong word) Existentialism ? ( I read his Les Mains Sales in French when I was 16 but have no recollection what it was about).
Satre formed existentialism into an ethical theory when he combined it with humanism. The idea of existentialism existed before him. I mentioned Kierkegaard who is sometimes called the "gradfather of existentialism". Others like Hiedegger (who had the idea that we had been abandoned by God) and Nietzsche (who said "God is dead and we killed him").
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markova21
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Thank you so much for your helpful answers !!
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bingbong654
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(Original post by markova21)
Thank you so much for your helpful answers !!
Yw. I was reading about existentialism only yesterday so it's fresh in my mind!
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username4169146
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Being conscious, you are aware of your own existence and that leads to questions and mental crises. Such as questioning why do we exist, do we exist, is there a god, what happens when we die etc. Literature has explored this in many ways. most famous example probably is Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" speech where he questions whether life is worth it, thinking that maybe the best option to take regarding your existence is to end your own existence. But then he questions whether death is really the end or if you will awake into a new nightmare or maybe a dream. Death and god come up a lot in existentialism, and also the absurd like kafka's metamorphosis...you're going along and then weird stuff happens. Did that help?
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gjd800
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The following is good re essence and eixistentialism (basically that we don't have one pervading principle), but is confused re the idea of what an essence is (and not to mention that the idea of essence predates Aristotle by a minimum of 1500 years in the Rgveda), so be careful. Essence does not mean purpose, that is what telos means, and telosis not equivalent with essence, even for Aristotle (in simple terms, essence is substance, which is generally a cause rather than a 'purpose' in the strict sense: a Form is substance, which is self-predicating).
(Original post by bingbong654)
Existentialism in today's terms, has almost become a word without meaning. When someone says they are having an existential crisis they just mean they're having a breakdown. Don't worry, existentialism is a word everyone uses but few actualy know where it came from!
Existentialism, as the existentialists meant it, means existence preceds essence. That's a quote from Satre. Satre was an atheist and so started with the fact that God didn't exist.
It's first necessary to explain what essence is. Essesnce is an aristotelian idea. Basically everything has an essence and it means purpose. A knife for example has the essence to cut things. The essence of a human is his purpose in life (or even the sum of all his decisions).
Now if God doesn't exist, then there is no creator to give us a purpose (our purpose is no longer to love God). Existentialism is just the statement that we existed before we had a purpose. Nobody gave us a purpose, we must make our own. Thus "man is condemed to be free". We are free to choose our way in life and nobody can choose for us.
Last edited by gjd800; 1 year ago
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bingbong654
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(Original post by gjd800)
The following is good re essence and eixistentialism (basically that we don't have one pervading principle), but is confused re the idea of what an essence is (and not to mention that the idea of essence predates Aristotle by a minimum of 1500 years in the Rgveda), so be careful. Essence does not mean purpose, that is what telos means, and telosis not equivalent with essence, even for Aristotle (in simple terms, essence is substance, which is generally a cause rather than a 'purpose' in the strict sense: a Form is substance, which is self-predicating).
So is essence more about what we are caused to do? I thought Satre believed in free will thus we have no causes and thus no essence?
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gjd800
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(Original post by bingbong654)
So is essence more about what we are caused to do? I thought Satre believed in free will thus we have no causes and thus no essence?
No, it is a pervading, permanent, (usually) unchanging substance, without which no entity can be what it is. It is definitive and is the cause of Being - existentialists do not believe this, and this is in large part why they are existentialists.
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gjd800
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(Original post by snugglebear)
Being conscious, you are aware of your own existence and that leads to questions and mental crises. Such as questioning why do we exist, do we exist, is there a god, what happens when we die etc. Literature has explored this in many ways. most famous example probably is Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" speech where he questions whether life is worth it, thinking that maybe the best option to take regarding your existence is to end your own existence. But then he questions whether death is really the end or if you will awake into a new nightmare or maybe a dream. Death and god come up a lot in existentialism, and also the absurd like kafka's metamorphosis...you're going along and then weird stuff happens. Did that help?
Absurdity also key in everything Kierkegaard ever wrote!
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