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Existentialism - Essay Example

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It developed in the post-war period in part as a reaction to the devastation in Europe. It thumbed its nose at tradition and religion and placed man at the centre of a pitiless universe that did not…
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Download file to see previous pages Their work shows a world with no hope. It is also a world they have created through their imagination and it bears little to no resemblance to the world we live in. In essence, existentialism is more of a thought experiment than a living, breathing philosophy.
Two of the most famous existentialist philosophers were Sartre and Camus. At the beginning they were friends, but soon they became enemies. Sartre was more theoretical and Camus more allegorical, but both promoted the same ideals of existentialism.
The truth is that Sartre essentially made up his philosophy in his own mind. He didn’t look to evidence from the outside world to make his own ideas less abstract. In Being and Nothingness, he even said: “Life has no meaning a priori … It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.”1 Again, this is made clear when Sartre says elsewhere, “Nothingness haunts being.”2
One of the most famous quotations from Being and Nothingness is “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”3 The notion that an individual’s freedom is a negative quality—something which an individual is condemned to is an unusual notion. It is certainly not an idea which would have popularity in North Korea, where no one has any real freedom. Sartre’s idea is overly abstract. He is really saying that freedom is frightening and that it doesn’t mean what we think it does. But this is clearly just a random opinion and not one that is true in any real political sense. On occasions such as this, Sartre appears to be more of a charlatan than an actual philosopher.
Lack of control over one’s own life can breed desperation. One element that is common in the work of existentialist philosophers is the glamourization of suicide. It is sometimes portrayed as an act of rebellion or freedom. It is suggested that this is one free choice a person could make. What ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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