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We will contact you if necessary. To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video. Need help? How do I find a book? Can I borrow this item? Can I get a copy? Can I view this online? Ask a librarian. In the Genealogy of Morality Nietzsche explains morality as a system aiming at the taming of the human animal. These 'ideals' are all those values and ideologies made to protect man against the danger of nihilism, the state in which man finds no answer to the question of his existence.
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.
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. 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.
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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.
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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.
Humanistic Existentialism: The Literature of Possibility by Hazel E. Barnes
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. Published by Tavistock, Used Hardcover. Save for Later. From G. About this Item p, hardback, a very good ex-library copy in a very good dust-jacket of a book in the Studies in Existential Analyis and Phenomenology series Discusses the fiction of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus.
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