Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, December 5, 2016

Existentialism continued... Final report Part 2 H1

In the first installment I talked about Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche and their history with this school of philosophy. As well as a few of the major concepts within this school. Along with this general overview of this i found another key idea that was reoccurring from book to book. That was the theme of authenticity.
Many existentialists consider this idea of authentic existence to be very important. This idea is that a person has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with that self. How this coincides with authenticity is that a person should act as oneself or act as themselves not as “one acts” or as “one’s genes” requires. This authentic acting is in accordance with one’s freedom or one’s own nature. Seneca said “Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born. And what is it that reason demands of him? Something very easy – that he live in accordance with his own nature.”. In direct contrast to the authentic, the inauthentic is the denial to live in accordance to this freedom. This can be many different things from pretending choices are meaningless or random, through convincing oneself that some form of determinism is true, to a sort of "mimicry" where one acts as "one should." How "one should" act is often determined by an image one has of how one such as oneself acts. These usually correspond to idea of a “social norm” but it also doesn’t mean that acting on some social norms is inauthentic. It would be hypocritical to stray away from all social norms because some of the main norms of our society are not easily unfollowed without major repercussions.
A major existentialist Martin Heidegger had a different idea to Authenticity but was still based on what was discussed in the first paragraph. Heidegger uses the term ‘‘authenticity’’ to indicate that someone is being themselves existentially. This is deeper than being oneself behaviorally or psychologically. To be oneself existentially means to exist according to one’s nature or essence, which transcends day-to-day behavior or activities or thinking about self. Because existential authenticity is experience-oriented, the existential self is transient, not enduring, and not conforming to a type. It changes from moment to moment. As a result, a person is not authentic or inauthentic all the time. There is no authentic self. One can only momentarily be authentic in different situations. Thus, there are no authentic and inauthentic people, as much as researchers might like there to be such handy categories. At their most extreme, some people might prefer to be authentic most of the time while some prefer being inauthentic most of the time. All people have the capacity, if not the will, to change from being authentic to being inauthentic or vice versa at any moment. 

Authenticity goes very well along with another existentialist idea, this being subjectivity. All existentialists have followed Kierkegaard in stressing the importance of passionate individual action in deciding questions of both morality and truth. They have insisted, accordingly, that personal experience and acting on one's own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth. Thus, the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer. This emphasis on the perspective of the individual agent has also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and other existentialist writers have been deliberately unsystematic in the exposition of their philosophies, preferring to express themselves in aphorisms, dialogues, parables, and other literary forms. Despite their antirationalist position most existentialists cannot be called irrationalists in the sense of denying all validity to rational thought. They have held that rational clarity is desirable wherever possible, but that the most important questions in life are not accessible to reason or science. Furthermore, they have argued that even science is not as rational as is commonly supposed. Nietzsche, for instance, asserted that the scientific assumption of an orderly universe is for the most part a useful fiction.

The two final main ideas of this philosophical mindset are the ideas of choice, which is quite the same as authenticity and subjectivity, and Anexity. Humanity's primary distinction, in the view of most existentialists, is the freedom to choose. Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature as other animals and plants do. each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. In the writings of the 20th-century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence. Which I also talked about in the first installment.  Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable. Even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads. Finally Kierkegaard held that it is spiritually crucial to recognize that one experiences not only a fear of specific objects but also a feeling of general apprehension, which he called dread. He interpreted it as God's way of calling each individual to make a commitment to a personally valid way of life. The word anxiety has a similarly crucial role in the work of Martin Heidegger; anxiety leads to the individual's confrontation with nothingness and with the impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he or she must make. In the philosophy of Sartre, the word nausea is used for the individual's recognition of the pure contingency of the universe, and the word anguish is used for the recognition of the total freedom of choice that confronts the individual at every moment.

First installment: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/11/existentialism-existence-proceeding.html


1 comment:

  1. Interesting,the notion of authenticity as being oneself according to one's own self-determination. If the problem, as Sartre put it, is that we objectify ourselves and create a standard of authenticity external to our own personal nature, aren't we also at risk of doing that even when the standard originates in our own self-estimation?

    Interesting, too, the Kierkegaardian notion that even if we're the products of a creator God, He/She/It would insist that we "choose [our] own path" and not defer to the creator's divine will.

    No wonder so many Existentialists emphasize dread and nausea as the inevitable consequence of being "thrown" into a world without an instruction manual but still instructed to "be yourself."

    But then again, isn't it a bracing challenge to think that we're free to create our own existential natures rather than simply register an externally imposed essence? That makes each new day, in some sense, the first day of creation.