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Existentialism

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by BlackNo.1, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. BlackNo.1

    BlackNo.1 a sad-mad cloud

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    So is anyone here an existentialist or do you refute it?

    Existentialism, for those who don't know, is most analogous to being alone, lost in a boat in the middle of the ocean. You've no idea how old you are, or where you are really, but you have to choose a direction to go.

    It implies the nature of human existence as conscious and free. Our consciousness is what gives us choice and freedom. Existentialists believe that the universe is nothing. Life is nothing. However it is up to humans to give their own lives meaning.

    To deny your own freedom of choice is to live in 'bad faith.' And to embrace freedom of choice and live it is to live authentically.

    Although there are situational implications which direct our choices (ie. you wouldn't prance around naked because of laws) we are still free beings because we still have intrinsic CHOICE.

    So what do you think about Sartre and existentialism in general? (this is a really nutshell explanation so sorry about that). I also think it would be neat to gather a list of metal artists/bands who sing generally about existentialism and existentialist themes.
     
  2. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    I'm not sure I'd say that I 'refute' it, but I used to consider myself one some years ago but don't any longer.

    I think you were far too liberal with the words 'bad faith' and 'authentic'
     
  3. BlackNo.1

    BlackNo.1 a sad-mad cloud

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    Those are the terms Sartre used.
     
  4. JColtrane

    JColtrane Member

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    True dat...Then there's the whole "existence precedes essence" thing...that's pretty important also. I find myself enjoying the "precursors" to existentialism like Nietzsche and Kierkegaard more than any actual existentialist.
     
  5. speed

    speed Member

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    Excellent thread, welcome to the board.


    I agree with you. I also very much enjoy the classically-based existentialism of Camus. But Sartre does have many interesting things to say, as does the core thought of Heidegger.
     
  6. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    What does 'choice' mean? A capacity for independant action? A rock has no such choice available because it exists merely in response to the material universe, (whether such a material universe is a construction of our own mind, or exists for many such minds, seems rather irrelevant) yet there is something (everything?) in us not of this material, rational, universe?

    I perceive a universe that is tangible and rational, I perceive that you perceive such a universe - it would seem a more straightforward explanation to assume that such a universe really exists. In such a universe I cannot see how something can be said to have more choice than another on an absolute scale. In order for me to say 'I make this choice', I need to see myself as a black box of sorts - I receive an input, internalised magic occurs, (choice, we call it) and I give an output. The point of choice is clearly defined - it is I. When the intermediate, logical steps become clear (the myriad interactions of individual particles and energies of the universe that make up 'I') then at no clear point is any 'choice' obvious, and the concept 'I' has become rather irrelevant.

    Because we perceive ourselves as a whole, and not as our individual components, it feels as though we 'choose' - the universal mechanics that result in the apparent 'decision' are largely hidden from us.

    I think choice is still a good description for the interaction of our energies and particles - but I think better defining it would be useful. 'We' - the whole beings - have a capacity for what we perceive as choice, but the individual components that cause us, do not.
     
  7. JColtrane

    JColtrane Member

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    Well, that would be the very opposite of existential thought, as far as I percieve it. So I guess you would be on the side of refuting existentialism. Pretty much, from what I gathered, you think every single being has its essence determined before its existence (I can hear Sartre rolling over in his grave :p )
     
  8. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    Yeah, I certainly wasn't agreeing with it ;) It's not any form of 'strong' philosophical ideal I hold or anything, just what I came up with thinking on choice, 'free beings' and the like... I'd love for this line of thinking to be refuted, (or at least, able to be seen as only 1 possibility amongst a number) I don't really like the thought of it :lol:

    I don't know that anything is necessarily 'determined' before it happens though - can something be said to be determined when it is comprehensively impossible to *actually* determine it? I would tend to suggest that existence should be seen as the determining process. Although the total when you roll 2 dice is fixed by your physical action and the environment, it is not actually 'determined' until the dice stop rolling...
     
  9. BlackNo.1

    BlackNo.1 a sad-mad cloud

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    Well, why are the dice rolled in the first place? is this to say that because universal mechanics are acting apon us, we do not 'choose' to roll them?

    Of course a rock would have no choice, existentialism pertains only to the nature of human existence, therefore, the philosophy alone stands against material qualities. Certainly we are a part of this, we have material qualities (ie. a nervous system, a genetic basis etc.) Although as Sartre describes, we, as humans are a "being-for-itself", meaning that we have consciousness, and all other things are defined as objects or "being-in-itself".

    Since we are "being-for-itself"s, thus we have consciousness, the universe (all other objects) would not exist in the same way without the human aspect involved. Therefore, our perception determines really how the rest of the "being-in-itselfs" exist. It is through the "for-itself" that the "in-itself" has any characteristics or qualities.

    There is that old parable, if a tree falls in the woods..yaddi yadda...but what does it matter? since our very perception is subjective, there is no thing to perceive the objects without consciousness...so would things exist? it does not matter, but since existentialism is unique to we, as people, creating our own MEANING in life, the universe is basically nothing (and meaningless) without us.

    Choice then, is what comes from our consciousness, unique to we as humans. (Yes, an animal "chooses" so to speak, although more out of autonomic functions and instincts than anything else.) Humans, because we can contemplate our own existence for example are quite distinct from all other things. What is consciousness then you ask?

    Well consciousness (this is strictly in Sartre's terms) is: a mode of existence in the "for-itself", it possesses no contents, is a negation of the "in-itself", is active not passive, is always intentional and conscious of "something", reveals the "in-itself".

    It is through the "for-itself" that meaning comes into the world and the universe and what have you.
    Well, the dice were rolled because I chose for them to be. I have just answered my own question, and created my own meaning. :)
     
  10. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    No, more to say that 'choice' is just a term we ascribe to certain chains of events, but that the lead up, events described, and follow on, are still bound by causality.

    How is the line in the sand drawn? Do severely retarded people qualify as 'being-for-itself's?

    Perhaps the main thing I don't see is how different we are to the lower forms of life. I see that we arose from the same material, under the same conditions - suggesting there is some arbitrary point where suddenly we can term it 'consciousness' seems very artificial. Useful (I guess?) for certain discussion, but not really in accordance with how the world is. (By 'is', I of course mean 'is percieved)
     

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