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Thread: Existentialism

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    Existentialism

    Are there any fans of Existential philosophy here? I thought I might make a thread for us.

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    Senior Member Æğele Wiğercwida's Avatar
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    I'm just starting to read up on this line of thought....any links or book suggestions?

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    Two works by Sartre that I enjoyed:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flies

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausea_(novel)

    If you don't already know, politically Sartre was a Communist. For the most part though I appreciate his literary output, particularly the two works above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Æğele Wiğercwida View Post
    I'm just starting to read up on this line of thought....any links or book suggestions?

    Try looking into Albert Camus and some of his literature, although Camus defined himself as an "absurdidst" writer rather than an existntialist, but Camus is about the closest personal experience I've had to existentialism. He stated verily that he isn't actually an existentalist, but I think his writing comes fairly close to this school of thought.


    I can recommend you to one of his books that I have recently read, "The Stranger" , you might find this one interesting. He also wrote "The Plague" , and "The Fall".

    Also Friedrich Nietzsche the 19th century German philosopher, was an essentialist, as was Søren Kierkegaard although I haven't read much of them. You might want to do some reading on these persons and their works as well since they believed in the concept of existentialism.



    My suggestion is: Camus, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard. Reading into these writers should be able provide you a good experience to the idea of existentialism.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_...y_of_Absurdism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B8ren_Kierkegaard

    A belief of existentialism is that persons are in control of their destiny, and that their meaning in life is found through free will, choice, and responsibility.

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    I've read a couple of books by these two authors; "L'etranger" by Camus and "Les Mains Sales" by Sartre, although my knowledge of them has faded a little over time.

    I wasn't helped either by a poor French Teacher whose grasp of the language was hardly any better than mine (as her Student) and, furthermore, she wanted to talk about "racism" all the while when Camus' "L'etranger" is not really about this to any significant extent. In the same way, she reduced "Les Mains Sales" down to one long diatribe against Naziism, again missing the wider philosophical issues.

    It really is a shame because I feel a lot of affinity with many aspects of existentialism, which at the time I'd rejected because I knew Sartre in particular was a Communist oddball. It just shows the danger of dismissing things out of hand based solely on their source, when in fact most people have something useful to say if you give them a fair hearing.

    Regarding existentialism itself, I particularly like the idea of not expressing artificial emotions or conforming to society's conventions for purely aesthetic purposes. I can personally identify with parts of "L'etranger" 30 years later, having not cried at certain funerals when some kind of "social etiquette" apparently decreed that I should have done so!

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    Senior Member Ward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallflower View Post
    My suggestion is: Camus, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard. Reading into these writers should be able provide you a good experience to the idea of existentialism.
    I would also add the work of Martin Heidegger to that list, especially his book Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), which had a major influence on Sartre.

    Quote Originally Posted by Godwinson View Post
    It really is a shame because I feel a lot of affinity with many aspects of existentialism, which at the time I'd rejected because I knew Sartre in particular was a Communist oddball.
    The funny thing is that Sartre's philosophy of existentialism (which is highly individualistic) is in its essence incompatible with Marxism, yet Sartre was seemingly oblivious to this fact. IIRC, the Soviets even had Sartre pegged as an "enemy of mankind" until he inexplicably started supporting them in the early 1950s (although he did break with them after they invaded Hungary).

    It just shows the danger of dismissing things out of hand based solely on their source, when in fact most people have something useful to say if you give them a fair hearing.
    Well, I'm definitely inclined to cut some slack for early non-Jewish Communist-sympathizing writers and thinkers. It would be a great cultural loss to summarily dismiss the writings of such men like Jack London or George Bernard Shaw just because of their Communist leanings. The latter half of the 19th century was a time of many exciting new ideas, and of course it would take a while before the wheat could be properly separated from the chaff. For many of us today it seems self-evident that Marxism is pure poison, but it's not hard to imagine how in its early days it could have appealed to many honest and noble-minded men who genuinely thought they could help create a better world. They were indeed misguided, but by and large I imagine that their intentions were pure (in contrast to their Semitic counterparts).
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    Existentialism?

    Ahh yes ..., the "insights" of such luminaries as, Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, Sarte, de Beauvoir and literatists such as Kafka, Camus, Doestoyevsky. All great minds in the pantheon of 20th century Philosphy and Literature and required reading in any real Liberal Arts Program.

    And what is "Existentialism", but a descent into Angst, Anomie, Alienation, Absurdity, Boredom and Despair. All the hallmarks of 20th Century life. Why not just put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger and put an end to it all? There has to be more to life than this!

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    i love existentialism,very interesting classes i have taken.

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    Originally Posted by BlazingSon
    Well, I'm definitely inclined to cut some slack for early non-Jewish Communist-sympathizing writers and thinkers. It would be a great cultural loss to summarily dismiss the writings of such men like Jack London or George Bernard Shaw just because of their Communist leanings.
    The only problem with that comparison is that unlike Shaw and London, Sartre was an anti-racist whose play, The Respectful Prostitute, assailed American 'racism'.

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    Senior Member Ward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe McCarthy View Post
    The only problem with that comparison is that unlike Shaw and London, Sartre was an anti-racist whose play, The Respectful Prostitute, assailed American 'racism'.
    Sartre may have put forth a few interesting ideas (not that I necessarily agree with them), but he was indeed a scumbag at heart. It had already been well established that the Soviet Union was little more than a murderous criminal enterprise in the years before Sartre began supporting it, so this biographical detail shouldn't be overlooked. And this wasn't the only aspect of his life that would call into question his character, either. I once read a book on him that indicated he was basically an all-around morally bankrupt little man. Nevertheless, his existentialist philosophy did contradict Marxism.
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