existentialism

3322 words 14 pages
Existentialism provides a moving account of the agony of being in the world. The spirit of existen- tialism has a long history in philosophy. But it be- came a major movement in the second half of the 20th century. Existentialism is not a systematic body of thought like Marxism or psychoanalysis. Instead, it is more like an umbrella under which a very wide range of thinkers struggled with ques- tions about the meaning of life.
Much of the appeal and popularity of Existential- ism is due to the sense of confusion, the crisis, and the feeling of rejection and rootlessness that Euro- peans felt during World War II and its aftermath.
Existentialism’s focus on each person’s role in cre- ating meaning in their life was a major influence
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The human being does not live in a pre-determined world; the human be- ing is free to realize his aims, to materialize his dreams; hence, he has only the destiny he forges for himself because in this world nothing happens out of necessity.
The human being hides himself from freedom by self-deception, acting like a thing, as if he is a pas- sive subject, instead of realizing the authentic be- ing for the human being; this is bad faith. In bad faith, the human being shelter himself from re- sponsibility by not noticing the dimensions of al- ternative courses of action facing him; in bad faith, the human being behaves as others demand of him by conforming to the standards of accepted values and by adopting roles designed for him; in bad faith, the human being loses the autonomy of his moral will, his freedom to decide; in bad faith, the human being imprisons himself within inauthentic- ity for he has refused to take the challenge of re- sponsibility and the anxiety that comes along with his freedom.
Anxiety ascends from the human being's realiza- tion that the human being's destiny is not fixed but is open to an undetermined future of infinite possi- bilities and limitless scope: The emptiness of fu- ture destiny must be filled by making choices for which he alone will assume

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