ExistentialismIn have held that everyone should aim for
ExistentialismIn our individual routines, each and every one of us strive to be thebest that we are capable of being.
How peculiar this is; we aim for similargoals, yet the methods we enact are unique. Just as no two people have the samefingerprint, no two have identical theories on how to live life. While somefollow religious outlines to aspire to a level of moral excellence, otherspursue different approaches.
Toward the end of the Nineteenth-Century and onthrough the mid-Twentieth, a movement followed “existentialism,” a philosophicaltheory of life, in order to achieve such a level. Even though the idea ofexistentialism is complex, certain themes are common amongst philosophers andauthors: moral individualism, freedom of choice, responsibility, alienation.Fundamental to understanding existentialism is the conception of moralindividualism. Existentialism rejects traditional ethical endeavors.Philosophers since the time of Aristotle, circa Third-Century B.C.
E. (before thecommon era), have held that everyone should aim for a common peak of ethicalachievement. Aristotle argued for the existence of a divine being, described asthe “Prime Mover,” who is responsible for the unity and purposefulness of nature.In order for humanity to attain such a climax, everyone must imitate TheAlmighty’s perfect profile. Aristotle’s basic philosophy deduces that humanitystrives for an identical peak of moral excellence, as judged by a higher being(Aristotle).Existentialism declares that the individual must choose his way; thereis no predetermination. Since the universe is meaningless and absurd, peoplemust set their own ethical standards.
The universe does not predetermine moralrules. Each person strives toward a unique moral perfection. The Nineteenth-Century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who was the first writer to callhimself e)existential, reacted against tradition by insisting that the highestgood for the individual is to find his uniqueness. His journal reads, ‘I mustfind a truth that is true for me .
.. the idea for which I can live or die”(Existentialism). Existentialists believe that morality depends on theindividual, rather than a supreme being.Next to moral individualism, the inevitability of choice is the mostprominent existentialist theory.
Existentialism assert that people do not havea fixed nature, as other animals and plants do. Our choices determine who weare. The Twentieth-Century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre proclaimed thatthe most Important choice is the choice of ourselves. Each character makeschoices that create his nature. Existence suggests freedom where mankind isopen to a future that is determined by choice and action. Choice is inescapableand central to human existence; the refusal to choose is a choice. Even when aperson seems to be acting out a “given’ role or following “given” values — forexample, by The Almighty, or by society — he is in fact choosing to do so(Sartre).
Individuals are free to choose their own destination. Hence, theymust accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment.Since man’s choices cannot be universally judged, E)Existentialistspropose a framework for which responsibility can be recognized. This outlinedoes not tell individuals what and how to choose; rather it implies that thereare right and wrong ways of choosing. Usually through situations such as death,struggle, guilt, @anxiety, nausea, or anguish, one becomes aware ofresponsibility (right versus wrong). Kierkegaard mentioned that an individualmust experience dread, fear of specific objects such as the Almighty, torecognize responsibility. The word anxiety has a crucial role in the work ofTwentieth-Century German philosopher Martin Hiedegger.
Hiedegger definesan3dety as an individual’s confrontation with meaningless and the discovery thatthe only justification for one’s demean or comes from within. Heproclaimed thatresponsibility will therefore be acknowledged. In the philosophy of Sartre, theword nausea is used for the individual’s recognition of continual, absolutefreedom of choice (Olson). It is through these senses that people perceiveresponsibility.Existentialists regard responsibility as personal and subjective(existing only in the mind; iIlusionary), considering people decide morality,not a supreme being. E)dstentialists have insisted that personal experiencesand acting on one’s own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth.Accordingly, truth is subjective.
Thus, the understanding of a situation bysomeone involved in that situation Is superior to that of observers. Eventhough one person may view a situation as immoral, existentialism maintains thatonly those involved can determine morality.Existential novels and short stories include themes of moralindividualism, freedom of choice, and responsibility, as well as alienation fromthe world, The Stranger, by Albert Camus, incorporated subjects ofexistentialism. In this novel, the protagonist Mersault finds himself alienatedfrom the world. Franz Kafka, another existential writer, expressed his views inthe short story’ The Metamorphosis.
” In this tale, the hero, a hardworkinginsurance agent, awakens to discover that he has turned into an enormo us insect,four feet in length. He recognizes his familial rejection as he is left to diealone (Kafka). Many Existentialists focus on an absurd nightmare of the worldand life.Dostoyevsky, a Nineteenth-Century Russian Existential novelist,mentioned through one of his characters: ‘We must love life more than themeaning of it” (E3dstentialism). After all, Existentialists maintain that lifeis lacking significance without moral individualism, freedom of choice,responsibility, and alienation. Each person decides for himself how to livelife. People have the right to decide their own fate, even when their decisionsare socially unacceptable, like self-choicc-homeless, euthanasia advocates, andhomosexual Iffestyles.