existentialism

koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

Though not an expert, I have a wonderful book of Walter Kaufmann translations summarizing existentialism.(Sir, I exist)

"Existentialism is not a philosophy but a label for several widely different revolts against traditional philosophy. Most of the living "existentialists" have repudiated this label, and a bewildered outsider might well conclude that the only thing they have in common is a marked aversion for each other."

Authors included in this book include, but are not limited to, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kafka, Ortega, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus.

What is existentialism?
koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

To take away the pressure of guessing. There is no "correct" answer as I can tell except not believing what everyone else tries to tell you. As anastrophe is fond of saying "I am what I am".

Embarassingly enough, my first exposure to existentialist thought was through the alternative band "the Cure". Their song Killing an Arab was based on a short novel by Albert Camus wherein a man finds himself shooting another man because he was there and had a gun in his hand. The reason "why", contrary to popular trend, is considered moot. Note not all existentialist feel this way.
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anastrophe
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existentialism

Post by anastrophe »

in my brief stint at 'higher' education - something i will probably touch on in my journal - probably the majority of classes i took were in philosophy. logic, ethics, ancient philosophy, existentialism. my college had a charismatic and prolific author who taught existentialism - Peter Koestenbaum. that he was cute as a button didn't hurt - short, leaning towards rotund, full grey beard, balding head, and a lovely german/bavarian accent. what more could one ask for in a philosophy professor!

unfortunately, this was the early 1980's, and existentialism was hardly catching fire then. he wrote some huge books, i still have them, quite fascinating stuff. his 'magnum opus' i suppose is "the vitality of death", examining - among other things - how accepting the inevitability of death can be a core vitalizing experience. he worked hard to create what could be called an existentially-based form of modern psychology. it never caught on from what i can tell. he was, in no uncertain terms, truly brilliant (and i think he's still around doing various stuff - i recall running a google search on him a while back)



unfortunately also, i became quite the insufferable sophomore, spouting existential bon mots at every turn. it's a wonder i wasn't lynched.



twenty some odd years later, i can't really say what i took away from those courses, besides a very strong 'belief' in Choice - that humans have choice, and that is the basis for everything that we do (and one of the most frequent copouts we employ - 'i had no choice').



but the most succint summary of existentialism is contained in - you guessed it - an aphorism (really yet another bon mot), which i believe i've posted before, but what the heck, i love it anyway.

Existentialism means that nobody else can take a bath for you.

-Delmore Schwartz



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koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

anastrophe wrote: Existentialism means that nobody else can take a bath for you.

-Delmore Schwartz


:)

yet everyone tries to tell you what kind of soap to use.

Individualism is the most common bond between the authors I have studied. I do not fit in a niche (or neitzsche).
john8pies
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existentialism

Post by john8pies »

"I think therefore I am" or something similar?.....sadly existentialism was parodied so mercilessly by Monty Python`s Flying Circus television programme that here in Britain anybody over about 40 will probably only be able to remember existentialism as being about "Oooooh, Jean-paul Sartre" "Oh, hello, Mrs Cardboard cutout!" etc etc
Jika
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existentialism

Post by Jika »

I remember some fun philosophy tutorials about 2nd year Uni when our group would sit around a large table pondering/arguing such existential chestnuts as;

If a tree fell in the forest, and nobody heard it, nobody saw it, did it really fall?
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anastrophe
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existentialism

Post by anastrophe »

Jika wrote: I remember some fun philosophy tutorials about 2nd year Uni when our group would sit around a large table pondering/arguing such existential chestnuts as;



If a tree fell in the forest, and nobody heard it, nobody saw it, did it really fall?
i'd classify that as epistemology rather than existentialism...
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Jika
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existentialism

Post by Jika »

Oops! :o you are, of course right. Shows how rusty I am now, at the philosophy caper, although it still holds a fond place in my heart.

I always much prefered formal logic, perhaps b/c it was/is so formulaic. It always felt like 'standing on solid ground' or (stepping stones) as opposed to the shifting sands of other strands of philosophy.

I would enjoy hearing more of your thoughts on existentialism not just b/c it's interesting but b/c I clearly need to 'brush-up'.

I hate that I've let so many passions of my past slide into decay or oblivion. Why does growing up, following a specific career path take such a heavy toll on the personal interests and passions of youth? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've become intellectually lazy.

Help me out here, how do you do it?



Sincerely, Jika :thinking:
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anastrophe
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Post by anastrophe »

Jika wrote: Oops! :o you are, of course right. Shows how rusty I am now, at the philosophy caper, although it still holds a fond place in my heart.



I always much prefered formal logic, perhaps b/c it was/is so formulaic. It always felt like 'standing on solid ground' or (stepping stones) as opposed to the shifting sands of other strands of philosophy.



I would enjoy hearing more of your thoughts on existentialism not just b/c it's interesting but b/c I clearly need to 'brush-up'.



I hate that I've let so many passions of my past slide into decay or oblivion. Why does growing up, following a specific career path take such a heavy toll on the personal interests and passions of youth? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've become intellectually lazy.



Help me out here, how do you do it?





Sincerely, Jika :thinking:
i'm as intellectually lazy as anyone. i've always wanted to finish learning japanese. i have a despairing feeling that on my deathbed my last words will be 'i wish i'd learned japanese'.
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gmc
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existentialism

Post by gmc »

Everyone should study philosphy to some extent as I think it helps you come to an understanding that you are every bit as clever as the philosophers you are studying and just because somebody sounds erudite doesn't mean they are. I came to the conclusion that the best way to get high marks in philosphy essays was to make them as obtuse as possible with just a hint of devastating logic underlying the whole thing so that the marker would not concede defeat and state bluntly it was a load of rubbish for fear of they had missed something significant. If you say something with enough conviction you can convince almost anyone of anything until they learn to be critical.

As a side note one of my professors was known as "nae balls Wilson".

Some of you may have observed that women sometimes sit with one leg wrapped around the other in a manner that is physically impossible to a normally endowed male without suffering excrutiating pain. That and the fact he wore a cowboy hat and carried a handbag led one to the conclusion that here was some doubt as to his sexual proclivities if not his actual sex. I am not sure which was the biggest clue-the cowboy hat or the handbag but it is perhaps an interesting cultural difference that wearing a cowboy hat in the UK suggests a certain disposition-The village people have a lot to answer for-while wearing a skirt suggests you a rufty tufty highlander and not to be trifled with.

I think therefore I am but how do I know I'm not a budgie?
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anastrophe
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existentialism

Post by anastrophe »

gmc wrote: Everyone should study philosphy to some extent as I think it helps you come to an understanding that you are every bit as clever as the philosophers you are studying and just because somebody sounds erudite doesn't mean they are. I came to the conclusion that the best way to get high marks in philosphy essays was to make them as obtuse as possible with just a hint of devastating logic underlying the whole thing so that the marker would not concede defeat and state bluntly it was a load of rubbish for fear of they had missed something significant. If you say something with enough conviction you can convince almost anyone of anything until they learn to be critical.



As a side note one of my professors was known as "nae balls Wilson".



Some of you may have observed that women sometimes sit with one leg wrapped around the other in a manner that is physically impossible to a normally endowed male without suffering excrutiating pain. That and the fact he wore a cowboy hat and carried a handbag led one to the conclusion that here was some doubt as to his sexual proclivities if not his actual sex. I am not sure which was the biggest clue-the cowboy hat or the handbag but it is perhaps an interesting cultural difference that wearing a cowboy hat in the UK suggests a certain disposition-The village people have a lot to answer for-while wearing a skirt suggests you a rufty tufty highlander and not to be trifled with.



I think therefore I am but how do I know I'm not a budgie?
that was brilliant end to end, gmc!
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koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

:wah: How existentialist of you, GMC.

For some reason I got thinking you were refering to the Teletubbies here...but didn't remember the cowbay hat.

gmc wrote: Some of you may have observed that women sometimes sit with one leg wrapped around the other in a manner that is physically impossible to a normally endowed male without suffering excrutiating pain. That and the fact he wore a cowboy hat and carried a handbag led one to the conclusion that here was some doubt as to his sexual proclivities if not his actual sex. I am not sure which was the biggest clue-the cowboy hat or the handbag but it is perhaps an interesting cultural difference that wearing a cowboy hat in the UK suggests a certain disposition-The village people have a lot to answer for-while wearing a skirt suggests you a rufty tufty highlander and not to be trifled with.

koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

Though Dostoevsky is accredited with describing the Existentialist movement before it really began (Notes from the Underground), Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is considered to be the first, actual Existentialist writer. Much of his writing was in protest against Christianity. He achieved some celebrity until he challenged a publication he did not respect, and which had praised him, to write trash about him...so they did.

The Concept of Dread was his most influential work. "If in olden times the fearful thing was that one might be offended, now the fearful thing is that there is nothing fearful any more,..." doesn't sound like such an old fashioned idea to me. In fact, I might have been thinking that yesterday.

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

Soren Kierkegaard
gmc
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existentialism

Post by gmc »

posted by anastrophe

that was brilliant end to end, gmc!


Pleased you think so, I wrote that at midnight after two glasses of wine and a very stressful day, maybe I shouldn't think too much before I post and wait till I'm pissed and pissed off. nothing like mixing british and american colloquialisms.
Jika
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Post by Jika »

gmc wrote:

... maybe I shouldn't think too much before I post and wait till I'm pissed and pissed off.


So did you just have a bad day or was it my post that "pissed" you off? I hope it was the former and not the later.

You're lucky you could get away with "obtuse" essays displaying a mere "hint of devastating logic" our tutors/lecturers demanded flowing , well thought-out, well argued, well weighted, valid, point-connected, cogent essays, free from fallacious argument, non sequiter and what they quaintly termed dodgy connections or "weasel words". If they perceived your position, or defense there of, to be weak and waffling it was it was duly noted and marks deducted!

Out of pure curiosity, what university did you attend? :)
gmc
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Post by gmc »

posted by jika

So did you just have a bad day or was it my post that "pissed" you off? I hope it was the former and not the later


Twas the former, sorry if I gave the impression otherwise.
koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

I have an existential map; it has "you are here" written all over it.

- Steven Wright

:-6
koan
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existentialism

Post by koan »

The dreaded Nietzsche. I think people dread trying to spell his name more than discussing his concepts. :D

When I started this thread I figured I'd go through my books and discuss all the prominent existentialist writers one at a time. I may still do that. It's good to remember the writers who have affected the way I think.

Nietzsche (who perhaps should buy a vowel) is next on the list...which is why I haven't written anything in this thread for a while. I'm still going through it all trying to come up with a good summary. He is most commonly known for saying "God is Dead" in Thus Spake Zarathustra. In context: His madman is wandering through the town searching for God and finally pronounces. "We have killed him-you and I"..."God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has owned has bled to death under our knives...Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us - for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history hitherto."

When the townsfold were silent, staring in astonishment, the madman threw his lantern on the ground

"I come too early," he said...

Whether the madman represents Nietzsche or not, I think Nietzsche was far ahead of his time. Have we killed God?

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