Continental Philosophy: Existentialism and Phenomenology - Essay Example

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The author of the essay describes the existentialism, a philosophical movement which was very influential in the fields of literature and the arts, and phenomenology, which looked to the subjective experience of man as the starting point of philosophy…
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Continental Philosophy: Existentialism and Phenomenology
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Download file to see previous pages Existentialism as a philosophical movement was very influential in the fields of literature and the arts so much so that two of the foremost existential philosophers were literary writers themselves - Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Both also believed that man can confront the existential dilemma through active involvement in socio-political causes. Camus (1913-1960) believed that life is absurd and therefore can offer no explanation for why things are the way they are. In the Myth of Sisyphus, the philosopher explained the limits of both natural science and art in making sense of reality outside of
what the individual experiences. He wrote, "This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that exists. This world I can touch, and likewise, judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge and the rest is construction." He wrote that human needs (the two primary needs he identified were the need for understanding and the need for social warmth and contact) were always thwarted and they always tend to give way to misery and despair. As a result, he posed one of the most profound philosophical questions: "Is there any reason not to commit suicide" However, he answered the question himself that suicide is not an option and that there is a choice that can be made in a violent and senseless world - and that is to remain fighting to the very end for liberty and justice, even if the absurdity of life does not offer guarantees that such ends could ever be attained.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) believed God does not exist and therefore, human beings are abandoned. He wrote that existence precedes essence. Because God does not exist, it follows that we are what we make of ourselves; that there are no reasons for why things are what they should be and that human beings chart their own future; that human beings are utterly free ("condemned to be free"); and that following the third implication, we are alone yet free to create our own values. However, all these points to the fact that human beings are inescapably responsible for their fates. Even if God does not exist, it does not mean that man should resort to anguish for this abandonment or live in denial. Instead, the key to living an "authentic" life is to embrace this responsibility - and this could be mainly accomplished by throwing one's efforts in a "fundamental project" in which one can be engaged. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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