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Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by LeBuick, Sep 29, 2006.
Anyone ever hear of Quasi-Existentialism? What is it in simple tearms? I couldn't find it in Wiki.
Can some just define existentialism in terms I might understand? I'm not grasping the true essence of what this means.
Main Entry: ex·is·ten·tial·ism
: a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad
Main Entry: qua·si
1 : having some resemblance usually by possession of certain attributes <a quasi corporation>
2 : having a legal status only by operation or construction of law and without reference to intent <a quasi contract>
Existentialism is a philosophical movement that is generally considered a study that pursues meaning in existence and seeks value for the existing individual. Existentialism, unlike other fields of philosophy, does not treat the individual as a concept, and values individual subjectivity over objectivity. As a result, questions regarding the meaning of life and subjective experience are seen as being of paramount importance, above all other scientific and philosophical pursuits.
There are several philosophical positions all related to existential philosophy but the main identifiable common proposition is that existence precedes essence, i.e. that a man exists before his existence has value or meaning. This value or meaning, and the value or meaning of the world around him, man defines himself in his own subjectivity, and wanders between choice, freedom, and existential angst. Existentialism often is associated with anxiety, dread, awareness of death, and freedom. Famous existentialists include Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Camus, Fanon and de Beauvoir.
Existentialism emphasizes action, freedom, and decision as fundamental to human existence and is fundamentally opposed to the rationalist tradition and to positivism. That is, it argues against definitions of human beings either as primarily rational, knowing beings who relate to reality primarily as an object of knowledge, or for whom action can or ought to be regulated by rational principles, or as beings who can be defined in terms of their behavior as it looks to or is studied by others. More generally it rejects all of the Western rationalist definitions of being in terms of a rational principle or essence or as the most general feature that all existing things share in common. Existentialism tends to view human beings as subjects in an indifferent, objective, often ambiguous, and "absurd" universe in which meaning is not provided by the natural order, but rather can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by human beings' actions and interpretations.
Although there are certain common tendencies among existentialist thinkers, there are major differences and disagreements among them, and not all of them even affiliate themselves with or accept the validity of the term "existentialism". In German, the phrase Existenzphilosophie (philosophy of existence) is also used.
Major concepts in existentialism
Existentialism differentiates itself from the modern Western rationalist tradition from Descartes to Husserl in rejecting the idea that the most certain and primary reality is rational consciousness. Descartes believed humans could doubt all existence, but could not will away or doubt the thinking consciousness, whose reality is therefore more certain than any other reality. Existentialism decisively rejects this argument, asserting instead that as conscious beings, humans always find themselves already in a world, a prior context and history that is given to consciousness and in which it is situated, and that humans cannot think away that world. It is inherent and indubitably linked to consciousness. In other words, the ultimate, certain, indubitable reality is not thinking consciousness but, according to Heidegger, "being in the world". This is a radicalization of the notion of intentionality that comes from Brentano and Husserl, which asserts that, even in its barest form, consciousness is always conscious of something.
On the existence of God, Sartre, unlike Kierkegaard, denies the existence of God. Sartre argues that without God, there is no higher power to define man. However, there are versions of existentialism that are religious. Theological existentialism as advocated by philosophers and theologians like Paul Tillich, Gabriel Marcel, and Martin Buber posits God's existence, as well as accepting many tenets of atheistic existentialism. Belief in God is a personal choice made on the basis of a passion, of faith, an observation or experience. Just as atheistic existentialists can freely choose not to believe, theistic existentialists can freely choose to believe in God and could, despite one's doubt, have faith that God exists and that God is good.
A third type of existentialism is agnostic. Again, it is a matter of choice to be agnostic. The agnostic existentialist makes no claim to know, or not know, if there is a "greater picture" in play; rather, he/she simply recognizes that the greatest truth is that which he chooses to act upon. The agnostic existentialist feels that to know the "greater picture", whether there is one or not, is impossible for human minds--or if it is not impossible, that at least he/she has not found it yet. Like Christian existentialists, the agnostic believes existence is subjective. However one feels about the issue, the act of finding knowledge of the existence of God often has little value because he/she feels it to be impossible, and to pretend to know is useless.
As mentioned above, philosophers associated with existentialism vary, sometimes greatly, over what "existentialism" is, and even if there is such a thing as "existentialism". One version, Sartrean existentialism, is elaborated below.
Some of the tenets associated with the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre include:
existence precedes essence: This is a reversal of the Aristotlean premise that essence precedes existence, where man is created to fulfil some telos and life consists of fulfilling that goal. Unlike tools that are created to fulfill a purpose (e.g. a scissor is created for the express purpose to cut things), Sartrean existentialism argues man exists without purpose, finds himself in the world and defines the meaning of his existence.
Identities are constructed by the individual consciousness only: As an extension of the first tenet, the individual consciousness constructs a "self" or "identity" for itself. An "identity" can include beliefs, projects, and various other things of value. Sartre argues that no one else, including God if he existed, can choose your "identity" for you. Kierkegaard's knight of faith and Nietzsche's Übermensch are some such examples of those who create their own "identity".
Values are subjective: Sartre accepts the premise that something is valuable because the individual consciousness chooses to value it. Sartre denies there are any objective standards on which to base values.
Responsibility for choices: The individual consciousness is responsible for all the choices he/she makes, regardless of the consequences. Sartre claims that to deny the responsibility is to be in bad faith. Here, existentialists draw on psychological concepts to investigate feelings such as angst and despair that arise by being in bad faith. Kierkegaard's works The Concept of Anxiety and The Sickness Unto Death are works that deal with such feelings.
condemned to be free: Because our actions and choices are ours and ours alone, we are condemned to be responsible for our free choices.
There are several terms Sartre uses in his works. Being in-itself are objects that are not free and cannot change its essence. Being for-itself are free: it does not need to be what it is and can change into what it is not. Consciousness is usually considered being for-itself. Sartre distinguishes between positional and non-positional consciousness. Non-positional consciousness is being merely conscious of one's surroundings. Positional consciousness puts consciousness into relation of one's surroundings. This entails an explicit awareness of being conscious of one's surroundings. Sartre argues identity is constructed by this explicit awareness of consciousness.
In Repetition, Kierkegaard's literary character Young Man laments:
How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it, why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint? 
Building on this, Heidegger, and later Sartre, dubbed the term "throwness" to describe this idea that human beings are exposed to or "thrown" into, existence - in that we have no choice to come into existence. Existentialists consider being thrown into existence as prior to, and the horizon or context of, any other thoughts or ideas that humans have or definitions of themselves that they create.
This explanation of existentialism strongly favors a non-religious approach. Even in quoting Kierkegaard, a Christian existentialist, his words are used to support the anxiety and nothingness of the philosophy- which are definitely two fundamental elements, but not any more important than free will and decision.
To be or not to be.
OK, let's give this a try. First of all, existentialism:
Definitions of Existentialism on the Web:
A philosophical movement embracing the view that the suffering individual must create meaning in an unknowable, chaotic, and seemingly empty universe.
the belief that one shapes one's basic nature through the direction of life one chooses to live.
a movement of thought, most influential in philosophy, theology, literature, and psychotherapy, which focuses on individual existence and subjectivity.
a philosophic cult of nihilism and pessimism: it holds that each man exists as an individual in a purposeless universe, and he must oppose his hostile environment through the exercise of his free will. Feelings become the standard of human truth.
The idea that (human) existence is a series of free choices, the responsibility for which cannot be lessened by any set of rules, any circumstances, or any outside influences.
Describes an attitude of life or God held by the individual. Distinguishes between essence (what can be observed and known) and existence (place of individual in a changing and dangerous world). Belief comes from Danish religious writer Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55) and often associated with Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) and Albert Camus. It distinguishes between essence and its existance.
Popular in the last century, the belief that existence comes before essence, that is, that who you are is only determined by you yourself, and not merely an accident of birth. Sartre is the most famous existentialist. It is in part a reaction to the ideas of Hegel and Nietzsche.
A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.
a philosophical movement argues that "existence precedes essence," that individuals must choose, decide their "essential" nature rather than having it given from some transcendent source.
is a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.
predominantly twentieth-century philosophy that argues that humans define themselves (ie, their "existence" rather than their "essence") by the choices and actions they freely and consciously make. Existentialism has influenced much mid-twentieth-century drama, especially that of the absurdists.
(philosophy) a 20th-century philosophical movement chiefly in Europe; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves
Existentialism is a philosophical movement that views the individual, the self, the individual's experience, and the uniqueness therein as the basis for understanding the nature of human existence. The philosophy generally reflects a belief in freedom and accepts the consequences of individual actions, while acknowledging the responsibility attendant to the making of choices. ...
now for 'quasi'
Definitions of quasi on the Web:
quasi(a): having some resemblance; "a quasi success"; "a quasi contract"
So we are talking about something that has some resemblance to the philosophy that life is what you make it with no externally-imposed direction or meaning.
There is a reference on the web that I found to a "Christian quasi-existentialism" which states "Evangelicalism reduces life to what happens after death, embracing a sort of quasi-existentialism." This would mean, I presume, that the writer is indicating that we are what we make of ourselves in terms of eternity. This would be completely ignoring the biblical passages such as Phil. 1:6 which states that God Himself will finish the good work He has begun in us as well as Romans 8:28-30 which states that it is His purpose to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Quasi-existentialism outside of the Christian arena could include, then, any number of philosophies where the individual or group is sort of half-way between taking full responsibility for themselves as individuals and the effect of something like karma which 'visits' them with the results of past actions, thus forcing their hand so to speak.
Hope that helps. It was interesting looking it up![/SIZE]
I've always found this resource helpful for introductory philosophy.