Friday, May 30, 2014

Existentialism is a Humanism

I don’t know why I picked this bookup.  I blame it on the bargain discounts at Borders (anyone remember that place?).  I miss Borders.  I could buy everything there.  Amazon squashed them out of the market.  Regardless, I was meandering through the aisles and all the philosophy books were on major discounts.  I could venture a guess as to why, but that would be a little on the nose.

If you aren’t familiar with existentialism, the best I could get out of it was that you are responsible for defining your own meaning to life.  This is best summed up, I thought, by their famous phrase that “God is dead.”  When I first read this I thought, that’s awfully inflammatory, but after reading through the essay by Sartre, I see that the phrase is meant to catch your attention, not to offend you, exactly.

To say that God is dead is more to focus on our actions, as humans.  Do you perform acts of good or bad in fear of God?  In fear of the repercussions of Him?  What I took from the text, and you can correct me if you feel the need, was that regardless of there being a higher power or not, you should still, for your own sake, do good, or do bad and know you’re doing it.  The whole focus of existentialism is to live an authentic life, to be who you are, without any regrets.  If you are good, be good, but don’t do it because you want points with God.

After reading that, the rest of the essay was a breeze.  The idea seemed somehow refreshing and after the main essay, there was a sort of question and answer and then discussion of Camus’ The Stranger.  The discussion tried to further the same things I’d already learned, but it was interesting to read different phrasing.  I can’t say I’d highly recommend this book because of the density of the text, but read over the course of a couple weeks, the information is easily digested and worth reading.

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