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Existentialism
Posted: 23 April 2016 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I have tried reading definitions for this philosophy but I can’t really pin down what it’s about exactly. What is existentialism? Also why do some people take an issue with it?

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Posted: 24 April 2016 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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At its core, existentialism is simply a philosophy that argues each individual is a free agent with free will. (Please, do not go there. If you want to discuss free will dig into the archives and read one of the myriad interminable threads on the subject.) One problem is some existentialist philosophers argue against scientific knowledge and objective reality. That’s about all I know on the subject as I find it a boring part of philosophy and don’t give it much credence.

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Posted: 24 April 2016 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I did one of those online “what are you” quizzes and found out I’m an existentialist. Had no idea. Mainly because I heard the word used in college in the wrong way. And I think it’s a common mistake to think it is about something outside of reality. According this quiz, it’s the opposite, it’s accepting what you observe as the sum of existence. That is things are what they are.

I tried reading Sarte once. Don’t remember what I got out of it.

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Posted: 24 April 2016 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I also heard that moral relativism was a part of it. It just seems like the more I read on existentialism the more ridiculous it seems. Wasn’t neitzche one of those as well?

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Posted: 24 April 2016 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Titanomachina - 24 April 2016 02:56 PM

I also heard that moral relativism was a part of it. It just seems like the more I read on existentialism the more ridiculous it seems. Wasn’t neitzche one of those as well?

Sartre is the most famous of modern day existentialists. I think it’s a crock, myself, and objective science supports my view, despite what Darron thinks.

Lois

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Posted: 24 April 2016 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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LoisL - 24 April 2016 04:40 PM
Titanomachina - 24 April 2016 02:56 PM

I also heard that moral relativism was a part of it. It just seems like the more I read on existentialism the more ridiculous it seems. Wasn’t neitzche one of those as well?

Sartre is the most famous of modern day existentialists. I think it’s a crock, myself, and objective science supports my view, despite what Darron thinks.

Lois

Lois, my last phrase was “I find it a boring part of philosophy and don’t give it much credence.” I was being politically correct. Existentialism turned me away from philosophy for a long time. I had a high school English teacher who loved Existentialism and used it to tell us the true meaning behind the literature we were reading. “Crock” is a polite was of saying what I feel about Existentialism.

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Posted: 24 April 2016 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have always found the word ‘existentialism’ and its various derivatives to be a tad pompous. A high-brow arts critic obliged to review a crass science fiction film may describe the plot as :-

The aliens land on Earth. To them, human beings are simply food, thus causing us all an existentialist / existential crisis.

The aliens land on Earth. To them, human beings are simply food, thus threatening our existence.


The second of those two is much the better English because it is plain, simplistic and clear. The first is the sort of language that is rarely seen / heard outside the pompous arts / philosophy world. The essence of communication is surely to use the sort of language that can be understood by the largest number of people.

There are people who try to be perceived as intellectual by using what may seem to be sophisticated words even though they know that such words are understood by fewer people.

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Posted: 24 April 2016 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Titanomachina - 23 April 2016 07:27 PM

I have tried reading definitions for this philosophy but I can’t really pin down what it’s about exactly. What is existentialism? Also why do some people take an issue with it?

Existentialism is about existence.  Using this word to describe a philosophy tells us nothing.

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Posted: 24 April 2016 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Archbishop Krauss - 24 April 2016 06:43 PM
Titanomachina - 23 April 2016 07:27 PM

I have tried reading definitions for this philosophy but I can’t really pin down what it’s about exactly. What is existentialism? Also why do some people take an issue with it?

Existentialism is about existence.  Using this word to describe a philosophy tells us nothing.

Umm, I’m not sure I follow.

Also what gets me is how relative they say things are. Like morality, customs, and progress. It’s like what leg do you have to stand on at that point really?

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Posted: 24 April 2016 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Morality, customs and progress are topics which we can make our own assessments and judgements about.

How do philosophers make a living? Presumably they start studying philosophy at university and eventually pass philosophy exams. Then what happens? Few companies employ philosophers. So, presumably philosophers become professors of philosophy at universities etc.

Outside the university context what is the correct amount of wage to pay a philosopher? How can we make a judgement on the quality of his / her work? In the event of a philosopher feeling that he / she is under-paid, well he / she will just have to be philosophical about it.

Let me know if you are working for a bank, brothel, computing, electronics, engineering, vehicle manufacturing or any other company that employs a team of philosophers.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjJptbr66jMAhXoCMAKHRdjDgsQ3ywIHzAA&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9SqQNgDrgg&usg=AFQjCNGRp7ygAKSHgF7t0C3JOSNGfXL3iw

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Posted: 24 April 2016 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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DarronS - 24 April 2016 06:28 PM
LoisL - 24 April 2016 04:40 PM
Titanomachina - 24 April 2016 02:56 PM

I also heard that moral relativism was a part of it. It just seems like the more I read on existentialism the more ridiculous it seems. Wasn’t neitzche one of those as well?

Sartre is the most famous of modern day existentialists. I think it’s a crock, myself, and objective science supports my view, despite what Darron thinks.

Lois

Lois, my last phrase was “I find it a boring part of philosophy and don’t give it much credence.” I was being politically correct. Existentialism turned me away from philosophy for a long time. I had a high school English teacher who loved Existentialism and used it to tell us the true meaning behind the literature we were reading. “Crock” is a polite was of saying what I feel about Existentialism.

Well, I’m glad we agree. Darron.

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[color=red“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
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Posted: 24 April 2016 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Archbishop Krauss - 24 April 2016 08:35 PM

Morality, customs and progress are topics which we can make our own assessments and judgements about.

How do philosophers make a living? Presumably they start studying philosophy at university and eventually pass philosophy exams. Then what happens? Few companies employ philosophers. So, presumably philosophers become professors of philosophy at universities etc.

Outside the university context what is the correct amount of wage to pay a philosopher? How can we make a judgement on the quality of his / her work? In the event of a philosopher feeling that he / she is under-paid, well he / she will just have to be philosophical about it.

Let me know if you are working for a bank, brothel, computing, electronics, engineering, vehicle manufacturing or any other company that employs a team of philosophers.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjJptbr66jMAhXoCMAKHRdjDgsQ3ywIHzAA&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9SqQNgDrgg&usg=AFQjCNGRp7ygAKSHgF7t0C3JOSNGfXL3iw

But wouldn’t pervasive relative morality be rather useless

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Posted: 25 April 2016 01:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Titanomachina - 23 April 2016 07:27 PM

I have tried reading definitions for this philosophy but I can’t really pin down what it’s about exactly. What is existentialism? Also why do some people take an issue with it?

Don’t you have access to Wikipedia?

Existentialism is not the worthless philosophy as many present it here, even if some of its outskirts are a bit too obscure, especially where existentialism ‘goes metaphysical’.

Existentialism tries to explain what it means to be an individual subject in an objective world. As an example: Kierkegaard, who generally is considered as the first existentialist, was very critical to Hegel’s world system, because it was just that: a huge world system that left totally unclear what ‘I’ had to do next.

With science the situation is not completely different. Of course, science is not a speculative world system like Hegel’s system, but it is true that science is silent about the experience of having to choose your way through life as a subject. Existentialism tries to analyse what makes a personal life in a universe that does not provide any ‘pre-configured meaning’. How should one orientate oneself in one’s choices and actions where there is nor given meaning, and therefore neither objective ethics. One must ‘design oneself’ in one’s choices and actions, which makes a huge responsibility.

Existentialism ruthlessly uncovers all kinds of ways that individuals try to escape the responsibility for their actions, e.g. by committing to a religious belief, hiding behind the masses, or denying its own subjectivity.

Reading into existentialism, however, is not the first way to go for a depressed person.

Titanomachina - 24 April 2016 02:56 PM

I also heard that moral relativism was a part of it.

I think this is a misunderstanding. It may seem so on the surface, but Sartre, de Beauvoir or Camus certainly had strong ethical ideas.

LoisL - 24 April 2016 04:40 PM

Sartre is the most famous of modern day existentialists. I think it’s a crock, myself, and objective science supports my view

Great example of avoiding responsibility (third example above). Are you a responsible person, Lois? If so, why?

Archbishop Krauss - 24 April 2016 06:43 PM

Existentialism is about existence.  Using this word to describe a philosophy tells us nothing.

No, of course not. It is a word. And unless you study what is meant by it, you will know nothing about it. Is this meant to be a criticism of existentialism? That they chose the wrong word for it?

[ Edited: 25 April 2016 01:49 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 25 April 2016 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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For some reason hearing it from someone who comprehends it better than I do helps.

But it doesn’t explain how when I hear most people talk about it they just dismiss it with a hand wave, almost as though it has no real value to offer the world.

Then there are those who think I’m asking about neitzche

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Posted: 25 April 2016 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thanks GdB. If we rated answers, you’d get a plus 1 from me.

Also highly recommend this source

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Posted: 25 April 2016 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Titanomachina - 25 April 2016 09:39 AM

But it doesn’t explain how when I hear most people talk about it they just dismiss it with a hand wave, almost as though it has no real value to offer the world.

Well, parts of existentialism are unscientific, which of course makes it unsympathetic to many of the posters here, especially those who think that when something is not scientific it is worthless. However, I think that if you are aware of its limits, then there is still a lot left to learn from. Existentialism tries to build an ethics based on the factual experiences of people, of subjects. My view on it is that existentialism is the call to all of us to take as much responsibility on our shoulders as we can. But in this view it sometimes tends to be too radical: it proclaims total free choice at every moment of your life, with the risk of being convicted by anybody anytime.

There are several criticisms on existentialism: one of them comes from structuralism, which proclaims the ‘death of the subject’: we are all just functions of a never-ending discourse. This movement radicalised as post-modernism. Another criticism is of course the scientific world. Existentialism makes free will a metaphysical category, which is of course totally against a scientific, deterministic world view: existentialism seems to adhere to a libertarian notion of free will.

Titanomachina - 25 April 2016 09:39 AM

Then there are those who think I’m asking about neitzche

Nietzsche, please. Maybe I can come back at him later.

Lausten - 25 April 2016 10:21 AM

Thanks GdB. If we rated answers, you’d get a plus 1 from me.

Thanks.

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