There is never really anything to be discouraged about, because difficulties are opportunities for inner growth, and the greater the difficulty the greater the opportunity for growth. Peace Pilgrim. Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave.
It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation. Jack Kornfield. Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things to help you learn perfect patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion. Qualities like love and compassion are not just abstract virtues that are the property of saints and adepts.
Anyone can develop these qualities in themselves by doing spiritual practices.
Heritage and youth
As the Buddha said, Come and see. Joanna Macy. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. What is a loving heart? A loving heart is sensitive to the whole of life, to all persons; a loving heart doesn't harden itself to any persons or things. Anthony de Mello. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always hopes, always perseveres. The Bible. It is an awareness that I is not separate from thou , that whatever is happening to the planet, or to another person, is happening to me. Compassion is total empathy, an absolute sense of connection. Paul Rezendes. There I go: that bald man, this angry child, that fearful cat, that cool stone, that bubbling brook, that worm struggling for its life, that bird desperate to feed her hungry babies, that one trapped in his rage, this one anxious but fearful of finding out why.
Hardly strangers! Empathy is the life of the soul, I think, because the soul that allows us to see the one in the other is the soul that finds joy. Claudia Michele. The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there? Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh. Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. Herman Hesse. Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. Saint Francis de Sales. Other people do not have to change for us to experience peace of mind. Gerald Jampolsky. Each one has to find his peace from within.
And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances. Mahatma Gandhi. Inner peace is found by facing life squarely, solving its problems, and delving as far beneath its surface as possible to discover its verities and realities. If peace is our single aim in all we do, we will always know what to do because we will do whatever will protect and deepen our peace.
Every time we experience a single day of inner stillness and joy, we are empowered to expand it into a second and a third day. A space opens in our hearts, and when two hearts recognize and acknowledge each other, a connection happens. It happens again and again as other hearts are joined in this stillness. LaUna Huffines. We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our hearts.
We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy. Mother Teresa. True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.
William Penn. Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere--in the closing of a door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. Henri Nouwen. To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me.
But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars One might think the atmosphere was made transparent Ralph Waldo Emerson. Prayer is Love's tender dialogue Between the soul and God. John Richard Moreland. Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation--and for me the most important part is listening to God's replies. Frank C. Prayer is the most powerful form of energy one can generate It supplies us with a flow of sustaining power in our daily lives. Alexis Carrel. They who have steeped their souls in prayer Can every anguish calmly bear.
Richard Monckton Milnes. When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words without heart. John Bunyan. He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Become aware of God, in whose presence you are while you pray. Then take a formula of prayer and recite it with perfect attention both to the words you are saying and to the Person to whom you are saying them.
Saint John Climacus. One of the most powerful ways to pray, and a method used throughout the world, is the repetition of the name God. Krishan Chopra. Using an inspirational passage Whatever we drive deep into consciousness, that we become I usually recommend the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:.
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Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
Eknath Easwaran. Meditation is to be aware of what is going on - in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Please do not think we must be solemn in order to meditate. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot. When one devotes oneself to meditation, mental burdens, unnecessary worries, and wandering thoughts drop off one by one; life seems to run smoothly and pleasantly.
A student may now depend on intuition to make decisions. As one acts on intuition, second thought, with its dualism, doubt and hesitation, does not arise. Nyogen Senzaki. Looking deeply at life as it is in this very moment, the meditator dwells in stability and freedom. Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end. People seek out retreats for themselves in the country, at the seaside, on the mountains Make use then of this retirement continually and regenerate thyself. Marcus Aurelius. Half an hour's meditation is essential except when you are very busy.
Then a full hour is needed. Let the mind be empty, and not filled with the things of the mind. Then there is only meditation, and not a meditor who is meditating. The mind must be clear, without movement, and in the light of that clarity the timeless will be revealed. Your thoughts are a veil on the face of the Moon. That Moon is your heart, and those thoughts cover your heart.
So let them go, just let them fall into the water. Pay no attention [to your thoughts]. Don't fight them. Just do nothing about them, let them be, whatever they are. Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Empty yourself of everything. Let the mind rest at peace. Heidegger exercised an unparalleled influence on modern thought.
Without knowledge of his work recent developments in modern European philosophy Sartre, Gadamer, Arendt, Marcuse, Derrida, Foucault et al. He remains notorious for his involvement with National Socialism in the s. Outside European philosophy, Heidegger is only occasionally taken seriously, and is sometimes actually ridiculed famously the Oxford philosopher A.
In , Jean Beaufret in a letter to Heidegger poses a number of questions concerning the link between humanism and the recent developments of existentialist philosophy in France. There he repudiates any possible connection of his philosophy with the existentialism of Sartre. The answer here is that Heidegger can be classified as an existentialist thinker despite all his differences from Sartre. We have seen above that a principle concern of all existentialists was to affirm the priority of individual existence and to stress that human existence is to be investigated with methods other than those of the natural sciences.
His magnum opus Being and Time is an investigation into the meaning of Being as that manifests itself through the human being, Dasein.
This question is what is the meaning of that Being which is not an entity like other beings, for example a chair, a car, a rock and yet through it entities have meaning at all? Investigating the question of the meaning of Being we discover that it arises only because it is made possible by the human being which poses the question.
Existentialism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Dasein has already a pre-conceptual understanding of Being because it is the place where Being manifests itself. Unlike the traditional understanding of the human as a hypokeimenon Aristotle — what through the filtering of Greek thought by the Romans becomes substantia, that which supports all entities and qualities as their base and their ground — Dasein refers to the way which human beings are. This is why human beings locate a place which nevertheless remains unstable and unfixed. The virtual place that Dasein occupies is not empty. It is filled with beings which ontologically structure the very possibility of Dasein.
Dasein exists as in-the-world. World is not something separate from Dasein; rather, Dasein cannot be understood outside the referential totality which constitutes it. Heidegger repeats here a familiar existentialist pattern regarding the situatedness of experience. Sartre, by contrast, comes from the tradition of Descartes and to this tradition remains faithful. Sartre, following Descartes, thinks of the human as a substance producing or sustaining entities, Heidegger on the contrary thinks of the human as a passivity which accepts the call of Being. For Kierkegaard anxiety defines the possibility of responsibility, the exodus of man from the innocence of Eden and his participation to history.
But the birthplace of anxiety is the experience of nothingness, the state in which every entity is experienced as withdrawn from its functionality. In anxiety we do not fear something in particular but we experience the terror of a vacuum in which is existence is thrown. Existentialist thinkers are interested in anxiety because anxiety individualizes one it is when I feel Angst more than everything that I come face to face with my own individual existence as distinct from all other entities around me.
Man is not a thinking thing de-associated from the world, as in Cartesian metaphysics, but a being which finds itself in various moods such as anxiety or boredom. Like Kierkegaard, Heidegger also believes that anxiety is born out of the terror of nothingness.
In this article we have discussed the ambiguous or at times downright critical attitude of many existentialists toward the uncritical and unreflecting masses of people who, in a wholly anti-Kantian and thus also anti-Enlightenment move, locate the meaning of their existence in an external authority. They thus give up their purported autonomy as rational beings. For Heidegger, Dasein for the most part lives inauthentically in that Dasein is absorbed in a way of life produced by others, not by Dasein itself. Heidegger was a highly original thinker. His project was nothing less than the overcoming of Western metaphysics through the positing of the forgotten question of being.
He stands in a critical relation to past philosophers but simultaneously he is heavily indebted to them, much more than he would like to admit. This is not to question his originality, it is to recognize that thought is not an ex nihilo production; it comes as a response to things past, and aims towards what is made possible through that past. In the public consciousness, at least, Sartre must surely be the central figure of existentialism. All the themes that we introduced above come together in his work. With the possible exception of Nietzsche, his writings are the most widely anthologised especially the lovely, if oversimplifying, lecture 'Existentialism and Humanism' and his literary works are widely read especially the novel Nausea or performed.
Although uncomfortable in the limelight, he was nevertheless the very model of a public intellectual, writing hundreds of short pieces for public dissemination and taking resolutely independent and often controversial stands on major political events. His writings that are most clearly existentialist in character date from Sartre's early and middle period, primarily the s and s.
From the s onwards, Sartre moved his existentialism towards a philosophy the purpose of which was to understand the possibility of a genuinely revolutionary politics. Sartre was in his late 20s when he first encountered phenomenology, specifically the philosophical ideas of Edmund Husserl. We should point out that Heidegger was also deeply influenced by Husserl, but it is less obvious in the language he employs because he drops the language of consciousness and acts.
Of particular importance, Sartre thought, was Husserl's notion of intentionality. In Sartre's interpretation of this idea, consciousness is not to be identified with a thing for example a mind, soul or brain , that is to say some kind of a repository of ideas and images of things. Rather, consciousness is nothing but a directedness towards things.
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Sartre found a nice way to sum up the notion of the intentional object: If I love her, I love her because she is lovable Sartre Within my experience, her lovableness is not an aspect of my image of her, rather it is a feature of her and ultimately a part of the world towards which my consciousness directs itself.
The things I notice about her her smile, her laugh are not originally neutral, and then I interpret the idea of them as 'lovely', they are aspects of her as lovable. The notion that consciousness is not a thing is vital to Sartre. Indeed, consciousness is primarily to be characterised as nothing : it is first and foremost not that which it is conscious of. Sartre calls human existence the 'for-itself', and the being of things the 'in-itself'. Because it is not a thing, it is not subject to the laws of things; specifically, it is not part of a chain of causes and its identity is not akin to that of a substance.
Above we suggested that a concern with the nature of existence, and more particularly a concern with the distinctive nature of human existence, are defining existentialist themes. Moreover, qua consciousness, and not a thing that is part of the causal chain, I am free. From moment to moment, my every action is mine alone to choose. I will of course have a past 'me' that cannot be dispensed with; this is part of my 'situation'. However, again, I am first and foremost not my situation. Thus, at every moment I choose whether to continue on that life path, or to be something else.
Thus, my existence the mere fact that I am is prior to my essence what I make of myself through my free choices. I am thus utterly responsible for myself. If my act is not simply whatever happens to come to mind, then my action may embody a more general principle of action. This principle too is one that I must have freely chosen and committed myself to. It is an image of the type of life that I believe has value. In these ways, Sartre intersects with the broadly Kantian account of freedom which we introduced above in our thematic section.
As situated, I also find myself surrounded by such images — from religion, culture, politics or morality — but none compels my freedom. All these forces that seek to appropriate my freedom by objectifying me form Sartre's version of the crowd theme. I exist as freedom, primarily characterised as not determined, so my continuing existence requires the ever renewed exercise of freedom thus, in our thematic discussion above, the notion from Spinoza and Leibniz of existence as a striving-to-exist. Thus also, my non-existence, and the non-existence of everything I believe in, is only a free choice away.
I in the sense of an authentic human existence am not what I 'am' the past I have accumulated, the things that surround me, or the way that others view me. I am alone in my responsibility; my existence, relative to everything external that might give it meaning, is absurd. Face to face with such responsibility, I feel 'anxiety'. Notice that although Sartre's account of situatedness owes much to Nietzsche and Heidegger, he sees it primarily in terms of what gives human freedom its meaning and its burden.
Nietzsche and Heidegger, in contrast, view such a conception of freedom as naively metaphysical. Suppose, however, that at some point I am conscious of myself in a thing-like way. For example, I say 'I am a student' treating myself as having a fixed, thing-like identity or 'I had no choice' treating myself as belonging to the causal chain. I am ascribing a fixed identity or set of qualities to myself, much as I would say 'that is a piece of granite'. In that case I am existing in denial of my distinctively human mode of existence; I am fleeing from my freedom.
This is inauthenticity or 'bad faith'. As we shall see, inauthenticity is not just an occasional pitfall of human life, but essential to it. Human existence is a constant falling away from an authentic recognition of its freedom. Sartre here thus echoes the notion in Heidegger than inauthenticity is a condition of possibility of human existence. Intentionality manifests itself in another important way.
Rarely if ever am I simply observing the world; instead I am involved in wanting to do something, I have a goal or purpose. Here, intentional consciousness is not a static directedness towards things, but is rather an active projection towards the future. Suppose that I undertake as my project marrying my beloved. This is an intentional relation to a future state of affairs. As free, I commit myself to this project and must reaffirm that commitment at every moment.
It is part of my life project, the image of human life that I offer to myself and to others as something of value. Notice, however, that my project involves inauthenticity. I project myself into the future where I will be married to her — that is, I define myself as 'married', as if I were a fixed being.
Thus there is an essential tension to all projection. On the one hand, the mere fact that I project myself into the future is emblematic of my freedom; only a radically free consciousness can project itself. I exist as projecting towards the future which, again, I am not. Thus, I am in the sense of an authentic self what I am not because my projecting is always underway towards the future. On the other hand, in projecting I am projecting myself as something , that is, as a thing that no longer projects, has no future, is not free. Every action, then, is both an expression of freedom and also a snare of freedom.
Projection is absurd: I seek to become the impossible object, for-itself-in-itself, a thing that is both free and a mere thing. Born of this tension is a recognition of freedom, what it entails, and its essential fragility. Thus, once again, we encounter existential anxiety. In this article, we have not stressed the importance of the concept of time for existentialism, but it should not be overlooked: witness one of Nietzsche's most famous concepts eternal recurrence and the title of Heidegger's major early work Being and Time.
In my intentional directedness towards my beloved I find her 'loveable'. This too, though, is an objectification. Within my intentional gaze, she is loveable in much the same way that granite is hard or heavy. Insofar as I am in love, then, I seek to deny her freedom. Insofar, however, as I wish to be loved by her, then she must be free to choose me as her beloved. If she is free, she escapes my love; if not, she cannot love. Love here is a case study in the basic forms of social relation. Sartre is thus moving from an entirely individualistic frame of reference my self, my freedom and my projects towards a consideration of the self in concrete relations with others.
Sartre is working through — in a way he would shortly see as being inadequate — the issues presented by the Hegelian dialectic of recognition, which we mentioned above. This 'hell' of endlessly circling acts of freedom and objectification is brilliantly dramatised in Sartre's play No Exit.
A few years later at the end of the s, Sartre wrote what has been published as Notebooks for an Ethics. Sartre influenced in the meantime by the criticisms of Merleau-Ponty and de Beauvoir, and by his increasing commitment to collectivist politics elaborated greatly his existentialist account of relations with others, taking the Hegelian idea more seriously. He no longer thinks of concrete relations so pessimistically. While Nietzsche and Heidegger both suggest the possibility of an authentic being with others, both leave it seriously under-developed. For our purposes, there are two key ideas in the Notebooks.
The first is that my projects can be realised only with the cooperation of others; however, that cooperation presupposes their freedom I cannot make her love me , and their judgements about me must concern me. Therefore permitting and nurturing the freedom of others must be a central part of all my projects. Sartre thus commits himself against any political, social or economic forms of subjugation. Second, there is the possibility of a form of social organisation and action in which each individual freely gives him or herself over to a joint project: a 'city of ends' this is a reworking of Kant's idea of the 'kingdom of ends', found in the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.
An authentic existence, for Sartre, therefore means two things. First, it is something like a 'style' of existing — one that at every moment is anxious, and that means fully aware of the absurdity and fragility of its freedom. Second, though, there is some minimal level of content to any authentic project: whatever else my project is, it must also be a project of freedom, for myself and for others. Subsequently a star Normalienne , she was a writer, philosopher, feminist, lifelong partner of Jean-Paul Sartre, notorious for her anti-bourgeois way of living and her free sexual relationships which included among others a passionate affair with the American writer Nelson Algren.
The debate rests of course upon the fundamental misconception that wants a body of work to exist and develop independently of or uninfluenced by its intellectual environment. In Being and Nothingness , the groundwork of the Existentialist movement in France was published. There Sartre gave an account of freedom as ontological constitutive of the subject. One cannot but be free: this is the kernel of the Sartrean conception of freedom. There, as well as in an essay from the same year titled 'The war has taken place' , Merleau-Ponty heavily criticizes the Sartrean stand, criticising it as a reformulation of basic Stoic tenets.
One cannot assume freedom in isolation from the freedom of others. Moreover action takes place within a certain historical context. For Merleau-Ponty the subjective free-will is always in a dialectical relationship with its historical context. Like Sartre it is only later in her life that this will be acknowledged. In Ethics of Ambiguity de Beauvoir offers a picture of the human subject as constantly oscillating between facticity and transcendence.
Whereas the human is always already restricted by the brute facts of his existence, nevertheless it always aspires to overcome its situation, to choose its freedom and thus to create itself. This tension must be considered positive, and not restrictive of action. The term for this tension is ambiguity. Ambiguity is not a quality of the human as substance, but a characterisation of human existence. We are ambiguous beings destined to throw ourselves into the future while simultaneously it is our very own existence that throws us back into facticity. It is exactly because of and through this fundamental failure that we realize that our ethical relation to the world cannot be self-referential but must pass through the realization of the common destiny of the human as a failed and interrelated being.
De Beauvoir, unlike Sartre, was a scholarly reader of Hegel. There Hegel describes the movement in which self-consciousness produces itself by positing another would be self-consciousness, not as a mute object Gegen-stand but as itself self-consciousness. It is, Hegel tells us, only because someone else recognizes me as a subject that I can be constituted as such. Outside the moment of recognition there is no self-consciousness. De Beauvoir takes to heart the Hegelian lesson and tries to formulate an ethics from it. What would this ethics be?
Thus there are no recipes for ethics. This is not a point to be taken light-heartedly. It constitutes a movement of opposition against a long tradition of philosophy understanding itself as theoria : the disinterested contemplation on the nature of the human and the world. De Beauvoir, in common with most existentialists, understands philosophy as praxis : involved action in the world and participation in the course of history.
It is out of this understanding that The Second Sex is born. In English in it appeared as The Second Sex in an abridged translation. The Second Sex is an exemplary text showing how a philosophical movement can have real, tangible effects on the lives of many people, and is a magnificent exercise in what philosophy could be. The subject is irritating, especially for women The Second Sex begins with the most obvious but rarely posed question: What is woman?
De Beauvoir finds that at present there is no answer to that question. The reason is that tradition has always thought of woman as the other of man. It is only man that constitutes himself as a subject as the Absolute de Beauvoir says , and woman defines herself only through him. But why is it that woman has initially accepted or tolerated this process whereby she becomes the other of man? It is indeed easier for one — anyone — to assume the role of an object for example a housewife 'kept' by her husband than to take responsibility for creating him or herself and creating the possibilities of freedom for others.
Naturally the condition of bad faith is not always the case. Often women found themselves in a sociocultural environment which denied them the very possibility of personal flourishing as happens with most of the major religious communities. A further problem that women face is that of understanding themselves as a unity which would enable them to assume the role of their choosing. Women primarily align themselves to their class or race and not to other women. For some feminists this clearly inaugurates the problematic of the sex-gender distinction where sex denotes the biological identity of the person and gender the cultural attribution of properties to the sexed body.
Thus the sex assignment a doctor pronouncing the sex of the baby is a naturalized but not at all natural normative claim which delivers the human into a world of power relations. Albert Camus was a French intellectual, writer and journalist. His multifaceted work as well as his ambivalent relation to both philosophy and existentialism makes every attempt to classify him a rather risky operation. A recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature primarily for his novels, he is also known as a philosopher due to his non-literary work and his relation with Jean-Paul Sartre.
The issue is not just about the label 'existentialist'. It rather points to a deep tension within the current of thought of all thinkers associated with existentialism. The question is: With how many voices can thought speak? As we have already seen, the thinkers of existentialism often deployed more than one. Almost all of them share a deep suspicion to a philosophy operating within reason as conceived of by the Enlightenment. Camus shares this suspicion and his so called philosophy of the absurd intends to set limits to the overambitions of Western rationality.
Reason is absurd in that it believes that it can explain the totality of the human experience whereas it is exactly its inability for explanation that, for example, a moment of fall designates. In a similar fashion Camus has also repudiated his connection with existentialism.
Camus accuses Hegel subsequently Marx himself of reducing man to history and thus denying man the possibility of creating his own history, that is, affirming his freedom. Philosophically, Camus is known for his conception of the absurd.
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Perhaps we should clarify from the very beginning what the absurd is not. The absurd is not nihilism. For Camus the acceptance of the absurd does not lead to nihilism according to Nietzsche nihilism denotes the state in which the highest values devalue themselves or to inertia, but rather to their opposite: to action and participation. In a world devoid of God, eternal truths or any other guiding principle, how could man bear the responsibility of a meaning-giving activity?
The absurd man, like an astronaut looking at the earth from above, wonders whether a philosophical system, a religion or a political ideology is able to make the world respond to the questioning of man, or rather whether all human constructions are nothing but the excessive face-paint of a clown which is there to cover his sadness.
This terrible suspicion haunts the absurd man. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards.
The problem of suicide a deeply personal problem manifests the exigency of a meaning-giving response. It would mean that man is not any more an animal going after answers, in accordance with some inner drive that leads him to act in order to endow the world with meaning. The suicide has become but a passive recipient of the muteness of the world. The absurd At the end one has to keep the absurd alive, as Camus says. But what does it that mean? In The Myth of Sisyphus Camus tells the story of the mythical Sisyphus who was condemned by the Gods to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain and then have to let it fall back again of its own weight.
The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. One must imagine then Sisyphus victorious: fate and absurdity have been overcome by a joyful contempt. Scorn is the appropriate response in the face of the absurd; another name for this 'scorn' though would be artistic creation.
Such madness can overcome the absurd without cancelling it altogether. Almost ten years after the publication of The Myth of Sisyphus Camus publishes his second major philosophical work, The Rebel Camus continues the problematic which had begun with The Myth of Sisyphus. Previously, revolt or creation had been considered the necessary response to the absurdity of existence. Here, Camus goes on to examine the nature of rebellion and its multiple manifestations in history. The problem is that while man genuinely rebels against both unfair social conditions and, as Camus says, against the whole of creation, nevertheless in the practical administration of such revolution, man comes to deny the humanity of the other in an attempt to impose his own individuality.
Take for example the case of the infamous Marquis de Sade which Camus explores. In Sade, contradictory forces are at work see The Days of Sodom. On the one hand, Sade wishes the establishment of a certainly mad community with desire as the ultimate master, and on the other hand this very desire consumes itself and all the subjects who stand in its way. Camus goes on to examine historical manifestations of rebellion, the most prominent case being that of the French Revolution. Camus argues that the revolution ended up taking the place of the transcendent values which it sought to abolish.
An all-powerful notion of justice now takes the place formerly inhabited by God. Camus fears that all revolutions end with the re-establishment of the State. Camus is led to examine the Marxist view of history as a possible response to the failed attempts at the establishment of a true revolutionary regime. Camus examines the similarities between the Christian and the Marxist conception of history. They both exhibit a bourgeois preoccupation with progress.
History according to both views is the linear progress from a set beginning to a definite end the metaphysical salvation of man or the materialistic salvation of him in the future Communist society. This is, Camus argues, essentially nihilistic: history, in effect, accepts that meaning creation is no longer possible and commits suicide. Because historical revolutions are for the most part nihilistic movements, Camus suggests that it is the making-absolute of the values of the revolution that necessarily lead to their negation.
On the contrary a relative conception of these values will be able to sustain a community of free individuals who have not forgotten that every historical rebellion has begun by affirming a proto-value that of human solidarity upon which every other value can be based. In the field of visual arts existentialism exercised an enormous influence, most obviously on the movement of Expressionism. Expressionism began in Germany at the beginning of the 20 th century. Abstract expressionism which included artists such as de Kooning and Pollock, and theorists such as Rosenberg continued with some of the same themes in the United States from the s and tended to embrace existentialism as one of its intellectual guides, especially after Sartre's US lecture tour in and a production of No Exit in New York.
German Expressionism was particularly important during the birth of the new art of cinema. Perhaps the closest cinematic work to Existentialist concerns remains F. Expressionism became a world-wide style within cinema, especially as film directors like Lang fled Germany and ended up in Hollywood. Jean Genet's Un chant d'amour is a moving poetic exploration of desire.
European directors such as Bergman and Godard are often associated with existentialist themes. Godard's Vivre sa vie My Life to Live , is explicit in its exploration of the nature of freedom under conditions of extreme social and personal pressure. In the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries existentialist ideas became common in mainstream cinema, pervading the work of writers and directors such as Woody Allen, Richard Linklater, Charlie Kaufman and Christopher Nolan.
Given that Sartre and Camus were both prominent novelists and playwrights, the influence of existentialism on literature is not surprising. However, the influence was also the other way. Novelists such as Dostoevsky or Kafka, and the dramatist Ibsen, were often cited by mid-century existentialists as important precedents, right along with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.
Dostoevsky creates a character Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov , who holds the view that if God is dead, then everything is permitted; both Nietzsche and Sartre discuss Dostoevsky with enthusiasm. Within drama, the theatre of the absurd and most obviously Beckett were influenced by existentialist ideas; later playwrights such as Albee, Pinter and Stoppard continue this tradition. One of the key figures of 20 th century psychology, Sigmund Freud , was indebted to Nietzsche especially for his analysis of the role of psychology within culture and history, and for his view of cultural artefacts such as drama or music as 'unconscious' documentations of psychological tensions.
But a more explicit taking up of existentialist themes is found in the broad 'existentialist psychotherapy' movement. A common theme within this otherwise very diverse group is that previous psychology misunderstood the fundamental nature of the human and especially its relation to others and to acts of meaning-giving; thus also, previous psychology had misunderstood what a 'healthy' attitude to self, others and meaning might be. Key figures here include Swiss psychologists Ludwig Binswanger and later Menard Boss, both of who were enthusiastic readers of Heidegger; the Austrian Frankl, who invented the method of logotherapy; in England, Laing and Cooper, who were explicitly influenced by Sartre; and in the United States, Rollo May, who stresses the ineradicable importance of anxiety.
As a whole, existentialism has had relatively little direct influence within philosophy. In Germany, existentialism and especially Heidegger was criticised for being obscure, abstract or even mystical in nature. The criticism was echoed by many in the analytic tradition. Heidegger and the existentialist were also taken to task for paying insufficient attention to social and political structures or values, with dangerous results.
In France, philosophers like Sartre were criticised by those newly under the influence of structuralism for paying insufficient attention to the nature of language and to impersonal structures of meaning. In short, philosophy moved on, and in different directions. Individual philosophers remain influential, however: Nietzsche and Heidegger in particular are very much 'live' topics in philosophy, even in the 21 st century.
However, there are some less direct influences that remain important. Let us raise three examples. Both the issue of freedom in relation to situation, and that of the philosophical significance of what otherwise might appear to be extraneous contextual factors, remain key, albeit in dramatically altered formulation, within the work of Michel Foucault or Alain Badiou, two figures central to late 20 th century European thought.
Likewise, the philosophical importance that the existentialists placed upon emotion has been influential, legitimising a whole domain of philosophical research even by philosophers who have no interest in existentialism. Similarly, existentialism was a philosophy that insisted philosophy could and should deal very directly with 'real world' topics such as sex, death or crime, topics that had most frequently been approached abstractly within the philosophical tradition. Mary Warnock wrote on existentialism and especially Sartre, for example, while also having an incredibly important and public role within recent applied ethics.
Douglas Burnham Email: h. George Papandreopoulos Email: g. Existentialism Existentialism is a catch-all term for those philosophers who consider the nature of the human condition as a key philosophical problem and who share the view that this problem is best addressed through ontology. Key Themes of Existentialism Although a highly diverse tradition of thought, seven themes can be identified that provide some sense of overall unity.