Title Head: CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY
The word existentialism was crafted in 1943 by Gabriel Marcel to signify the approach in philosophy that attempts to understand the existence of human beings as well as their experiences. It is concerned with a person’s endeavors to find life’s meaning. It is a post-second world war movement in philosophy whose key proponents, Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, saw human existence as meaningless.
Anxiety is a feeling of nothingness brought about by the fear of death and the unknown among all human beings. It is the state of apprehensiveness in a man that he is bound to die at some point in life as death is inevitable. It is the nothing revealed by man’s indifference towards life, or simply nothingness and death. People discover the reality of nothingness as they come face-to-face with death.
Subjectivism in philosophy is the act of judging an event or a happening basing it on one’s feelings rather than the reality or the truth. Subjectivism entails an incoherent as well as unrealistic view that everything is subjective and not objective. Knowledge is limited to self consciousness that is relative and subjective.
Fundamental duplicity of a human being is a notion used in philosophy, especially by Albert Camus to signify the situation whereby a given individual has a double mind in his or her perception of something. One may think both good and evil at the same time, leading to contradictory positions and conflict of the self. One possesses different opinions concerning something and can not stick to one position.
Ethics of ambiguity was a philosophy advanced by the French writer Simone De Beauvoir in response to compatriot Sartre’s notion of bad faith whereby she claimed that it was not possible for one to base ethics upon Sartre’s foundations. Ethics of ambiguity is essentially ethics of existentialism. She insisted that it is from human freedom that that all values spring, adding that all existentialist ethics can be founded in freedom.
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish writer and philosopher whose contribution had a great impact on the 20th century philosophy. He lived between 1813 and 1855. His major contribution was mainly on extentialism as well as postmodernism. He is credited as the father of extentialism due to his contribution to the topic which is the origin of extential psychology (Weston 45-71).
Absurdity is a term used in philosophy to refer to conflicts that are evident in individuals as they endeavor in vain to seek a meaning in life which is inherent and their subsequent inability to find any. This in essence implies that it is humanly impossible, not that it is logically impossible. This absurdity is neither caused by nature nor the individual but rather their coexistence in the natural setting.
Franz Kafka was a German philosopher who lived between 1883 and 1924. He contributed to philosophy in his works where he saw the world as a large place where people live with the burden of isolation, anxiety and guilt which make the search of personal salvation a futile effort. He wrote several books most of which where published posthumously.
The second sex is a treatise by the feminist, novelist, and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in which she made an analysis the oppression women are subjected to. It is the foundation of contemporary feminism. The term signifies women as they seemed to occupy a second place in the society dominated by men. She sought to affirm the place of a woman in society.
Sisyphus is a legend in ancient Greek philosophy. He is portrayed as a man who was very wise. He was a character who had immense wisdom and was a very prudent immortal being. The analogy in the myth is used to explain human existence. He deceived the gods and they confined him to pushing a log uphill for the rest of his life.
The notion of freedom in extentialist philosophy according to Sartre is guaranteed for everyone regardless of the circumstances that may be prevailing at any given moment. Man is authentic and as such he is condemned to freedom which is fundamental to him. We should not deny our own total freedom and as a result we ought to strive to adopt an authentic way of doing things. We should be authentic in the way we express our freedom and anything that may stand in the way of the attainment of that freedom should be avoided or dealt with. We are created to view ourselves positively and self resentment as well as deception has no place in a real world.
This freedom offers us hope in a meaningless world as we all at one point must get the freedom that we so much deserve despite the fact that the world is full of many challenges and frustrations. At any given time, we are at liberty to choose what we want for our lives and should ensure that this goal is achieved even if the situation does not allow. Extentialists have it that no person can escape this freedom which they see as fundamental. This implies that it is useless effort to attempt what has been defined in nature and instead we should play along in following the rules of nature, which will guarantee the attainment of our goals.
In the philosophy advanced by Camus, it is quite clear that human beings are confronted with the freedom of choosing either good or evil, depending on one’s discretion. Extentialism can be said to be a philosophy that advocates for the freedom to choose how to live, in a bad way or in a good way. These are two natures of a human being and man is confronted with the difficulty of choosing which way to live his or her life and in most cases both ways is the preferred choice as the philosophy of fundamental duplicity suggests, according to Camus. Whether we are living in a free society or not, the fact is that we all have the freedom to choose between two extremes. We can also choose to live both lives; a lie of hopelessness and a life full of hope. These are vanities that come up as a result of the freedom that we have as we can not be lukewarm about anything in life. We have got to take a position and as such it is evident that we are condemned to this freedom.
The fundamental freedom that we are presented with is a crushing burden because we are forced to make a choice even as the situation is such an overwhelming one. It also gives us the opportunity of meeting in a meaningless world as we all struggle to find out which is the best direction to take in life. The downtrodden in the society are the majority whose only solace is this freedom which binds them together. This essentially means that we still have hope of meeting in a meaningless world where the only thing that we share is the freedom which makes us meet.
The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre coined the philosophical concept of bad faith with the aim of describing the phenomenon of a person denying his or her own total freedom as he or she chooses to behave in an inauthentic manner on the contrary. Sartre’s notion of bad faith is seen as the point of departure in the philosophy of extentialism. Bad faith is the concept of self-resentment as well as deception. Sartre’s notion of bad faith is an extentialist thought with the critical claim that people are always at liberty to choose the goal for their lives and as such are free to guide their lives towards that goal by doing all they can to achieve it, in favorable or unfavorable circumstances. No one can escape this fundamental freedom, no matter the circumstances. The situation may be overwhelming but still people can not escape this freedom.
Albert Camus on the other hand had his ideas about the fundamental duplicity whereby he saw the human being as being controlled by two irresistible forces; to do good and at the same time to do evil. Fundamental duplicity of a human being shows the human being as having a double mind in his or her perception of something. One may think or do both good and evil at the same time, which is in essence contradictory. One possesses different opinions concerning something and is unable to stick to one particular position. For Camus, there are two dominant drives in a human, the drive toward the things that concern the mind and the drive toward passion and, more specifically, sex. This clearly highlights the conflict that exists between the individual and the society in which he or she lives.
The philosophy of Sartre concerning bad faith and Camu’s fundamental duplicity of human being serve as a point of departure for Simone de Beauvoir’s “ethics of ambiguity”. All of them being French writers, it is easy to notice the connection between the three schools of thought they had on the subject of extentialism. De Beauvoir borrowed a lot from the works of the two philosophers who came years before her as she attempted to draw parallels between their ideas on the human nature and the response humans adopt to some situations in life. This resulted in ethics of ambiguity in which she claimed that it was impossible for a person to base ethics upon Sartre’s foundations of bad faith. This was in reaction to his notion that people live in denial of their total freedom or simply put; in manner that is not authentic. She put to the fore the ethics of extentialism which had been advanced by Sartre and Camus in their earlier works on the nature of a human being. De Beauvoir instead saw man as existing with the conscience that his life is free of any external control, without belief that external factors have any powers over him or her.
It is true that ethical demands change compared to traditional views. As circumstances change, so do the ethical demands because human beings should find ways of adapting to the environment. In an existential perspective, De Beauvoir makes ethical demands upon us. She demands that humans possess morals that are acceptable in the society.
Weston, M, (2003). Kierkegaard and Modern Continental Philosophy. Routledge.