Sunday, November 10, 2019

On Existentialism

Existentialism is timeless—the existentialist way of thinking has been identified in Heraclitus, Socrates, and Augustine. But modern existentialism is identified with the thought of five thinkers: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre. The wide difference in the religious and political thought of these five philosophers makes it difficult to see existentialism as a school based on a doctrine or worldview. Kierkegaard was  religious. Nietzsche and Sartre were atheists. Kierkegaard would have nothing to do with politics; he was disgusted by it. Sartre, Camus, and Heidegger were deeply into politics. They were political theorists as well as political activists. Sartre was a Marxist. Camus was an anti-Marxist and identified as a humanitarian. Heidegger, it is alleged, was close to Nazism. Instead of a common doctrine and worldview, existentialism is a movement based on certain sensibilities regarding individualism and human freedom. The philosophy sees Dostoevsky and Kafka as its chief thinkers.

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