Friday, December 03, 2004

Am I an existentialist?

With the few bits of knowledge I have garnered, I thought my philosophies might be related to existentialism. So to check I decided to construct a test. According to an interesting website the Dividing Line there are six themes of existentialism. So I checked to see if my philosophy accords to those themes.

1. Existence precedes essence.

I take this as a logical place to start. This simply means you work with the basis of your own existence as place to work from. You don't take any suppositions on essence (e.g. the nature of being, the creation of yourself, value or morality etc.) before this.

2. Anxiety

I was amazed that this was the second theme raised. Anxiety over existence itself is not something I suffer from often. So I would have to disagree that it is an aspect of my own philosophy.

3. Absurdity

"To exist as a human being is inexplicable, and wholly absurd. Each of us is simply here, thrown into this time and place---but why now? Why here?" I don't think that because something is inexplicable, that it must follow that it is absurd. I take my own being as arbitrarily as I do the sun rising in the east. The sun rises there because it does, and I am because I am. There need not be any great sighs of discontent from me on either point.

4. Nothingness

I disagree. "If no essences define me, and if, then, as an existentialist, I reject all of the philosophies, sciences, political theories, and religions which fail to reflect my existence as conscious being and attempt to impose a specific essentialist structure upon me and my world, then there is nothing that structures my world." Our world is mostly a blank canvas with a few squiggles here and there. There is an essence but there is a lot of creativity within that essence. A person who senses nothingness obviously has been lazy on the creative side of their life. You have a world full of experiences, ideas and thoughts. Paint as you will.

5. Death

"Nothingness, in the form of death, which is my final nothingness, hangs over me like a sword of Damocles at each moment of my life. I am filled with anxiety at times when I permit myself to be aware of this." I am very comfortable with the idea of death and don't have much of any anxiety about my own mortality. So again, I most likely disagree.

6. Alienation

I know what this word means, but the explanation at the website was too deep and obtuse for me. I will "pass" for now.


I think that I have some characteristics of an existentialist and I make similar conclusions at times. But I lack the negativity towards existence of an existentialist.

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