Existentialism Philosophy

Jean Paul Sartre - Existentialism Philosophy - Existence precedes and commands Essence.Existentialism Philosophy: Simone de Beauvoir - We had no external limitations, no overriding authority, no imposed pattern of existence, We created our own links with the world, and freedom was the very essence of our existence.Existentialism Philosophy: Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Existentialist Philosophers. The Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) explains Existentialism Philosophy and How we Exist as Matter in Space.Existentialism Philosophy: Albert Camus - Slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or the taste of the superhuman, cripple judgement. On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself.Albert Camus - Existentialist

Discussion of the Philosophy / Metaphysics of Existentialism
Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus Quotes / Quotations / Pictures

Existence precedes and commands Essence. (Jean Paul Sartre)
We regarded any situation as raw material for our joint efforts and not as a factor conditioning them: we imagined ourselves to be wholly independent agents. ... We had no external limitations, no overriding authority, no imposed pattern of existence, We created our own links with the world, and freedom was the very essence of our existence. (Simone de Beauvoir, 1963)


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Albert Camus - Existentialist Introduction to Existentialism Philosophy

Existentialism liberates us from the customs of the past founded on myth. The quote from Jean Paul Sartre, Existence precedes and commands Essence, can be seen as the foundation for existentialism. I exist as a human. In my existence, I define myself and the world around me. The ongoing popularity of existentialism philosophy (particularly amongst young people) can be understood by its freedom of personal choice and individualism within a post modern context of no absolute truth.

The problem with Existentialism is that it leaves us without absolute foundations, encourages a separate / individual sense of self and gives too much power to our imagination and how we may choose to live. While this may be liberating, it unfortunately offers little guidance and does not abide by the fact that humans are constructed of matter, interact with all other matter in the universe and have evolved certain genetic traits as part of their evolutionary ancestry. Thus there are certain absolute truths that humans (all things) must abide by if they are to live by the truth and the wisdom this attains. As Gottfried Leibniz wrote;

A distinction must be made between true and false ideas, and that too much rein must not be given to a man's imagination under pretext of its being a clear and distinct intellection. (Leibniz, 1670)

The purpose of this website is to explain the metaphysical foundations of existence / existentialism which requires understanding how humans exist as matter in space. i.e. True Knowledge of Physical Reality (see links on the side of the page)

We hope you enjoy the following quotes on existentialism - and that you also think carefully about how you exist in the universe. There is a simple sensible solution.

Geoff Haselhurst, Karene Howie, Email



Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Existentialism

The general concern of existentialism is to give an account of what it is like to exist as a human being in the world. Epistemologically, it is denied that there can be an absolutely objective description of the world as it is without the intervention of human interests and actions. The world is a 'given' and there is no epistemological scepticism about its existence; it has to be described in relation to ourselves. There is no fixed essence to which beings have to conform in order to qualify as human beings; we are what we decide to be .. The issue of freedom and choice are of crucial importance in existentialism. Sartre thinks that authentic choices are completely undetermined. ... If we make our decisions merely by reference to an external moral code or set of procedures, then we are, similarly, not arriving at authentic choices. Buber disagrees with Sartre over what it is to choose: he maintains that values which have been discovered, not invented, can be adopted for one's life.
Heidegger, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Marcel, early Simone de Beauvoir.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Jean Paul Sartre - Existentialist Philosopher - Existentialism Philosophy Sartre, Jean-Paul (1905-1980)
Existential Quotes from an Existentialist Philosopher

Being and Nothingness (1943) is a major document of existentialism. Its primary question is: 'What is it like to be a human being?'

Sartre's answer is that human reality consists of two modes of existence: of being and of nothingness. The human being exists both as an in-itself (ensoi), an object or thing, and as a for-itself (pour-soi), a consciousness. The existence of an in-itself is 'opaque to itself .. because it is filled with itself.' In contrast, the for-itself, or consciousness, has no such fullness of existence, because it is no-thing.

Sartre sometimes describes consciousness of things as a kind of nausea produced by a recognition of the contingency of their existence and the realization that this constitutes Absurdity.

.. consciousness because it is nothingness, makes us aware of the possibility of choosing what we will be. This is the condition of human freedom. To perform an action a person must be able to stand back from participation in the world of existing things and so contemplate what does not exist. The choice of action is also a choice of oneself. In choosing oneself one does not choose to exist: existence is given and one has to exist in order to choose. From this analysis Sartre derives a famous slogan of existentialism: 'existence precedes and commands essence'. He maintains there is no reason for choosing as one does. The choice is unjustified, groundless. This is the perpetual human reality.

'Bad faith' is an important concept in Sartrean existentialism. To act in bad faith is to turn away from the authentic choosing of oneself and to act in conformity with a stereotype or role. Sartre's most famous example is that of a waiter:

'Let us consider this waiter in the cafe. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes towards the patrons with a step a little too quick .. his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer .. he gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things .. the waiter in the cafe plays with his condition in order to realize it.' (Sartre, 1943)

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Albert Camus - Camus, Albert (1913- 1960)
Quotations from Camus, Philosopher of the Absurd

Albert Camus could never cease to be one of the principle figures in our cultural domain, nor to represent, in his own way, the history of France and of this century. (Jean Paul Sartre)

This work is an attempt to understand the time I live in. (Albert Camus on 'The Rebel')

One might think, that a period which, within fifty years, uproots, enslaves or kills seventy million human beings, should only, and forthwith, be condemned. But also its guilt must be understood.
Slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or the taste of the superhuman, cripple judgment. On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself. The purpose of this essay is to accept and study that strange challenge. (Albert Camus on 'The Rebel')

Albert Camus is not an academic philosopher but rather an existential thinker concerned to work out a way of making sense of a life threatened with meaninglessness.
Common to each phase are the presuppositions of atheism, the mortality of the soul and the indifference of the universe to human aspirations.

The concept central to the early phase of Albert Camus's thought is the Absurd. Absurdity is a feeling which arises from the confrontation of the world, which is irrational, with the hopeless but profound human desire to make sense of our condition. The appropriate response to this situation is to live in full consciousness of it.
From a lucid appreciation of the absurdity of our life three consequences flow, which Camus calls revolt, freedom and passion.

By 'revolt' (in the early phase of his thought) Camus means defiance in the face of the bleak truth about the human condition, hopeless but not resigned, lending to life a certain grandeur. Again, recognition of the absurdity frees us from habit and convention: we see all things anew, and are inwardly liberated. By 'passion' Camus means the resolve to live as intensely as possible, not so as to escape the sense of absurdity but so as to face it with absolute lucidity. The way to do this is to maximise not the quality but the quantity of one's experiences ..
The major philosophical change, a marked break with Sartrean existentialism, is the view that there is such thing as human nature, the conclusion Camus draws from his analysis of the concept of the revolt in life and art. In the concept of human nature he finds a reason and cause for union between human beings. The detachment of the absurdity is replaced by a ethic of sympathy, community and service to others.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 26-7


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Simone de Beauvoir - Existential Philosopher - Existentialism Philosophy Simone de Beauvoir
Quotations from an Existentialist Philosopher

We regarded any situation as raw material for our joint efforts and not as a factor conditioning them: we imagined ourselves to be wholly independent agents. ... We had no external limitations, no overriding authority, no imposed pattern of existence, We created our own links with the world, and freedom was the very essence of our existence. (Simone de Beauvoir, 1963)

I also regarded my day to day activities - among others, my job as a teacher - in the light of a masquerade. By releasing the pressure of reality upon our lives, fantasy convinced us that life itself had no hold upon us. We belonged to no place or country, no class, profession, or generation. Our truth lay elsewhere. (Simone de Beauvoir, The Prime of Life, 1963)


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Karl Jaspers (1883-1969)
Existentialist, Psychologist, Philosopher

The central theme of Karl Jaspers' thought may be described as the finitude of human existence and the limits of human experience.

Jaspers contrasts the truths of philosophy with those of science and religion. The truths of philosophy are truths of faith; the truths of natural science are alone objectively true, and are characterised by their 'compelling certainty' and their 'universal validity'; the truths of religion are symbolic. Philosophy has many possible starting-points; the starting point of Jasper's own philosophy is the ultimate experience of knowing (erkennen), and the fundamental question arising therefrom: How does Being manifest itself?

All knowing is referential and intentional. As such it involves the fissuring of subject and object. This fissure is the locus of all beings, all objects, all knowing. It both marks the limits of objectivity and points beyond itself to the transcendent, to the Unfissured, the Encompassing.
Jaspers distinguishes two senses of this last term:
(i) The Encompassing as such or Being in itself;
(ii) the Encompassing which we ourselves are, this latter splintering into a diversity of ways in which we are (as existence (Dasein), existenz (Existenz), understanding, reason, consciousness).

The Encompassing as such transcends the subject-object fissure, and is thus not a possible object of knowledge. Being in itself is absolutely inaccessible to thought; ontology is, accordingly, impossible. Only the modes of Being, which mark the limits and the horizon of our experience, can be illuminated and clarified but not explained.

Karl Jaspers emphasizes the antinomial character of our Being, which is rooted in our striving to transcend the limits of our Being and in attempting to penetrate the inaccessible realm of the Encompassing. The self transcending tendency of our finite Being towards the infinite manifests itself in universal symbolic forms (chiffres), man's attempt to express the inexpressible and the unknowable, finite 'expressions' of the infinite.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 97 - 100


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973)
Neo-Socratic, Theist Existentialist, Playwright & Musician

Gabriel Marcel's intention was to reveal a metaphysical reality and his starting-point is the human situation, the experience of being-in-the-world. The mainspring of his thought is the claim that the human person is, au fond, a participant in, rather than a spectator of, reality and the life of the world; a being that ultimately cannot be encompassed to become an object of thought.

Marcel repuditated idealism because of the 'way in which [it] overates the part of construction in sensual perception', (Marcel) and he was repelled by philosophies that employed special terminologies or proceeded by assuming that reason, properly exerted, could achieve a total grasp of reality. 'Reality cannot be summed up.' (Marcel)
For Gabriel Marcel, immediate, personal experience was the touchstone of all enquiries.

Marcel distinguished two kinds of consciousness, 'first reflection' and 'second reflection'.
In first reflection a person might mentally stand back from, say, a direct relationship or friendship, in order to describe and objectify it. This, according to Marcel, is to separate oneself from the relationship and treat it as a 'problem' in need of explanation. In 'second reflection' the immediacy of the relationship is restored, but additionally there is an awareness of participation in Being: the recognition that we inhabit a 'mystery'; that it is not our prime task to separate ourselves and objectify this condition and that 'Having', that sense of owning one's body, talents, abilities, must be transformed into 'Being'.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 125-6


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Phenomenology & Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)

Edmund Husserl is the founder of Phenomenology, who first came to prominence through the publication of his Logical Investigations (1900-1).

The early phenomenologists were most impressed by the call to a return to the things themselves ('Zu den Sachen selbst!') in the sense of giving precedence to how things (material objects but also numbers, institutions, works of art, persons, etc) present themselves in actual experience over the dictates of some theory or system as to how they must be.

It came as something of a shock when Edmund Husserl published his next main work, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy (1913), for it seemed to represent a reversal of all phenomenology had come to stand for. .. what was found objectionable was the idea that everything else constituted in pure consciousness. This seemed like a capitulation to the neo-Kantians.

Consciousness in its various modes had the property of being 'of' something or being directed towards something. For example, in thinking something is thought about, in perception something is perceived ... Husserl calls these various modes of consciousness intentional experiences or acts. Unlike his teacher Brentano he does not regard the object of consciousness as being in all cases an inner mental entity. .. for example, I see this book on my desk this intentional experience, the seeing, is directed towards a material object. What I am conscious of is not an inner mental picture of a book but, precisely, a book. .. Each intentional experience, and not just those which essentially involve the use of language, contains something Husserl calls a sense or meaning (Sinn), and it is this which is responsible for the experience's directedness towards its object.

The various modes of consciousness, as well as having the fundamental essential feature of intentionality, also have more specific essential features: for example, perception essentially involves sensation. The sense or meaning of the experience 'animates' sensation in such a way that it becomes an appearance of an object. .. It is possible to describe intentional experiences independently of the question of the real existence and real being-thus of their object.

However, even if we disregard the question of the reality of the object of an experience we still regard the experience itself as an event of the world, as belonging to a psycho-physical reality, the human being, which is one item among others in the world. And even when we disregard the question of the reality of a particular object we still take for granted the existence of the world as a whole. This taking for granted, which Husserl calls the general thesis of the natural attitude, can be suspended or 'put out of action' in an operation he calls the transcendental reduction. Consciousness on which this operation has been carried out is not itself an item in the world but rather that for which there is a world.

Phenomenology as the mature Husserl understands it is the description of the essential structures of this transcendental consciousness or subjectivity. These structures are not inferred by any kind of Kantian transcendental argument but are 'seen' by the phenomenological 'observer' in the phenomenological, as opposed to the natural, attitude.

.. In abstraction from questions of real existence and real nature one considers the entity simply as it shows itself to consciousness. Phenomenology also describes the world, as the universal horizon of all that shows itself. The world is not just the totality of objects of consciousness, not just one big object, but that from within which entities show themselves.

It is supposed by Husserl to yield ultimate understanding of things.

In his final phase of his phenomenology Husserl introduces the notion of the life world (Lebenswelt), the world of lived experience. What he calls objectivism seeks to eliminate everything subjective from our representation of the world by allowing as real only those aspects of experience which can be represented by means of the concepts of the mathematical natural sciences. Such objectivism dismisses the lifeworld as mere appearance. But this is to call into question the lifeworld from the stand point of what is itself a construction formed on the basis of the lifeworld. The properties and structures attributed by the objectifying sciences to the 'objective' world are themselves the product of a process of idealization and mathematization of 'lifeworldy' structures.
..the lifeworld does not represent the ultimate foundation, for it is itself constituted in transcendental subjectivity.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 89-92


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)

In the early 1930's, having previously been unpolitical, Martin Heidegger began to be attracted by the National Socialist movement and its charismatic leader, Adolf Hitler. Like many German intellectuals of the time he saw in the movement a force for renewal and regeneration. .. Although Heidegger did some shameful things in the early days of the Third Reich it must be acknowledged that he was deeply critical of what passed in Nazi circles as 'philosophy' (racism and biologism).

For Heidegger there was only one question, die Seinsfrage (the question of being). .. adherence to the maxim made famous by Husserl and his followers: 'To the things themselves!' It is the letting be seen of that which shows itself.
Under the influence of Husserl, but also drawing on such figures as Kierkegaard and Dilthey, Heidegger began to develop his own brand of phenomenology which focuses on the facticity of lived existence rather than transcendental consciousness and its pure ego. Being and Time, his major work.

Being (Sein) is not something laid up in some realm to which the phenomenologist has some mysterious access. It is what is understood in the always understanding of being which already belongs to the being of Dasein (Heidegger's term for the being which we ourselves are).
Phenomenology, as the letting be seen of being, is the laying bare of the conditions of the possibility of entities showing themselves or of our comportment to entities. Phenomenology, as understood by Heidegger, is phenomenology of Dasein. The absolute prerequisite for doing philosophy, in Heidegger's' view, is recognition of what he calls the ontological difference (being is not a being). ..The being of Dasein, what Heidegger calls existence, is such that Dasein understands its own being, but in understanding its own being it at the same time understands the being of entities other than itself.

The complete work (Being and Time) was to have shown how time is the 'horizon' by reference to which being is understood.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 83-7


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961)

Maurice Merleau Ponty argues that experience is shot through with pre-existent meanings, largely derived from language and experienced in perception.
He denied that there is a causal relationship between the physical and the mental, and he therefore finds the behaviourist account of perception, entirely in terms of causation, unacceptable. Gestalt theory he finds not false but not developed sufficiently to do justice to the facts of perception. His general conclusion is that a new approach is needed if perception is to be properly understood.

This new approach is his version of phenomenology, and its application to perception is the subject of his second and most important work, Phenomenologie de la perception (1945). The fundamental premise is that of the primacy of perception: our perceptual relation to the world is sui generis, and logically prior to the subject-object distinction.
One of the most original features of this phenomenology is his theory of the role of the body in the world as perceived ... Merleau-Ponty contends that a number of the most fundamental features of perception are a result of out physical incarnation: our perception of space is conditioned by our bodily mode of existence; or again, we regard perceived things as constant because our body remains constant. Further, Merleau-Ponty contends that perception is a committed (engage) or existential act, not one which we are merely passive.

Merleau Ponty argues that the notions of time and subjectivity are mutually constitutive. Time is not a feature of the objective world but a dimension of subjectivity: past and future appear in our present and can only occur in a temporal being.

Experience comes ready furnished with meanings, and so although we are free to make choices the field of freedom is accordingly circumscribed. These meanings are conveyed by a number of social institutions, but above all by language.

One Hundred Twentieth Century Philosophers, Stewart Brown, Diane Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge 1998, p 133-5


Introduction - Existentialism - Jean Paul Sartre / Existential Quotes - Albert Camus - Simone de Beauvoir / Existentialist - Karl Jaspers - Gabriel Marcel - Phenomenology / Edmund Husserl - Martin Heidegger - Merleau Ponty - Existentialism Links - Top of Page

Existentialism Philosophy: Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Existentialist Philosophers. The Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) explains Existentialism Philosophy and How we Exist as Matter in Space. Links / Existentialism Philosophy

Philosophy - On Philosophy as Love (Philo) of Wisdom (Sophy), and that we must know the Truth to be Wise. Most importantly, all Truth comes from Reality thus we must know Reality to be Wise. Quotes on Philosophy, Truth, Reality by Famous Philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Montaigne, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Einstein, et al. 'Philosophy being nothing else but the study of wisdom and truth,..' (Berkeley)
Philosophy: Free Will Vs Determinism - Wave Structure of Matter explains Limited Free Will in a Necessarily Connected (Logical) Universe.
Philosophy: Postmodernism - On Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Popper Kuhn. The End of Postmodernism Relativism & the Rise of Realism.

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm - Lecture by Jean-Paul Sartre 1946, On Existentialism is a Humanism
http://www.thecry.com/existentialism/index.html - The Cry (A cry towards the absurd) Online philosophy magazine; includes existentialist and surrealist resources





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