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Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Faye, May 4, 2009.
What do you think about it?
I have mixed feelings about it. I took a course on it a couple semesters ago. The professor was fantastic. Some of the ideas actually impacted me quite strongly. I'm glad I went through it, but it isn't something that I want or need to keep in the front of my mind. It has been many months since I took that class. Nietzsche haunts me a bit. I have been thinking about re-reading Zarathustra. I've known of people that think existentialism is the answer to all of life's problems. There are lessons that can be learned, but to take it to an extreme is not healthy.
I know I've got a bad case of existential anxiety.
I experienced my share of existential angst. I think it's useful for some people at a certain points in life, but there are no real answers. It gets old and then you move on, because life goes on.
I am influenced primarily by Jean-Paul Sartre. In fact, my worldview is based on Sartre's existentialism.
I don't think I'd attribute my existentialist bent to any philospher per se.. I think I've kind of drawn the conclusion myself and then only had it reinforced by looking into it and seeing that other more noteworthy people have also had these thoughts. It makes sense to me that we create our own meaning and are fully responsible for everything we say and do--there is no, "Everything happens for a reason." I do not believe in fate or destiny. And for awhile, the absurdity of everything drove me a little mad.
I was exactly the opposite. When I was younger, I was pretty much an elitist with some nihilistic ideas. And before that, in my highschool days, I used to be veeery religious. Sartre was among the philosophers that made me change my life and my views in philosophy (and politics), along with Marx and Mill (primarily his Utilitarianism). If I hadn't read their books I'd probably be a hardcore Greek Orthodox conservative right now. And I probably wouldn't be as fucked up as I am now.
What do you mean by fucked up?
Let's just say that reading books about existentialism, especially Sartre's books, makes everything in life more complicated when compared to the bible's easily understood axioms and orders . And since I used to read books promoting very conflicting political and economic theories (Marxism, anarchism and liberal theories), I am not certain where I stand in the political spectrum anymore. In other words, I don't support a specific political ideology and I am doudtful about most political issues. Adding my young age and my inexperience in most issues, you get that "fucked up" result I was talking about.
No, I've basically always wondered about reality and social systems.. and theorized...only to discover that all of my ideas have already been published... (and much more eloquently than I could have written, too!) I remember when I first started reading about Marxism.. (I was much older than an angsty teenager at the time) and recognized my sentiments in his writings. So you really think if you hadn't been introduced to these ideas, you would have become an Orthodox Conservative? That's interesting to me, because it seems like people who wouldn't otherwise question their beliefsystem wouldn't change their belief system when introduced to new ideas.
Taz... have read any de Beauvoir, Jaspers or Camus? Sartre was a turning point in my life as well. Nausea, Being and Nothingness and Existentialism and Human Emotions were seminal for me, but reading Sartre impelled me to read others. I went back into Heidegger and Kierkegaard and reread Simone's The Second Sex with a different eye. Jaspers gave me another perspective on Existentialism and Camus brought me deeper into the Absurd with his essay The Myth of Sisyphus. I find that Existentialist thought cleared away much of the indecision in my life and a much firmer footing in individuality and freedom of choice.
I understand what you're saying. Marx is... I never liked his dictatorship of the proletariat, partly because I myself used to belong to the social class that was the enemy, the capitalists. But what I consider Marx's Capital to have given to me is the ability to look at society with a critical eye. And it shook pretty good when I first read about his dialectical materialism. I used to be religious when I read about that. (you can't even imagine how difficult it was for me to find the correct translation of terms... It's very difficult to write in a foreign language about philosophy) Yes that is most probable. And trust me that would be very good for me, considering my chosen career. I don't think that if anyone studies Marx or Kropotkin or any other anarchist/communist (and therefore atheist) philosopher can easily continue being a fundamentalist or a conservative. And if they do, they are either too clever, or too fanatical. They may continue believing in spirituality or god, but they would definetely become less attached to that idea. I generally believe that people stay awat from socialism or communism because they DON'T read the philosophical books, and they just judge by what they see in the political world (or should I say, what they know from history which has little to do with communism). I'm afraid I will dissapoint you... I know little about de Beauvoir, excepting her life and her involvement with Sartre. I haven't read any books she wrote, and the same stands with Jaspers. As for Camus, I've only read The revolutionary, primarily because it was given to me as a present by an exgirlfriend Sartre on the other hand... my first encounter with his writings was with Being and Nothingness when I was 18. But I couldn't understand anything, so I decided to step back and give it a rest. Years later, I stumbled upon another book "existentialism is humanism" (Ο ανθρωπισμος ειναι Oυμανισμος ) which seemed strange, and then I went on to read his Nausee. It took me a looong time to finish that book. Then I went back to study Being and Nothingness, and I did, but I still doudt I understood everything he was writing. I was pretty confused. Then I stole The Words, two pretty huge books from my fathers library ^^. One thing led to another, and eventually I ended up married to existentialism and Sartre. There is not even one book that's his and isn't in my library, but there is not even one book that I totally understood as well... And I may have misinterpreted a lot of things I read. I suppose I might look into Simone de Beauvoir when I decide to study something again
Sartre is confusing and hard to read mainly because he wasn't that good of a writer, supposedly he was a better speaker and debater. It took me three readings and the works of Walter Kaufmann to finally grasp Being and Nothingness to any great degree. Transcendance of the Ego and Existentialism Is A Humanism were easier. Reading Sartre took me into other philosophers within the scope of Existentialism and that's when I grasped it better. Of his fiction/plays, Nausea is the only one I enjoyed. I would rather read the fiction of Kafka or Camus, or the plays of Beckett or Ionesco. p.s. I rarely find anyone truly into Existentialism. We should discuss it sometime.