Talk:Existentialism/Archive 7

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Archive 1 Archive 5 Archive 6 Archive 7

The Lede

It used to be okay, but now that countless amateurs have crawled over it, it's shit again.

Restoring older version which had consensus.KD Tries Again (talk) 05:25, 10 October 2011 (UTC)KD Tries Again
Same again.KD Tries Again (talk) 16:30, 20 March 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again

Criticism Section: Grammatical confusion

There is some pronoun confusion in the following paragraph:

Logical positivists, such as Carnap and Ayer, say Existentialists frequently are confused about the verb "to be" in their analyses of "being".[70] They argue that the verb is transitive, and pre-fixed to a predicate (e.g., an apple is red): without a predicate, the word is meaningless.

It is not clear to me who the subject of the second sentence is. Which of the two parties argues that the verb "to be" is transitive, the Logical Positivists or the Existentialists? Also, the comma after transitive is in error. I'll go ahead and remove that for you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 136.1.1.105 (talk) 05:19, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Definition of Existentialism

I think the definition of existentialism in the introduction is pretty vague, and not very helpful. Can we go with the epistemological distinction that an existentialist is someone who ontologically places existence before essence ? This certainly served as the formal definition to Jaspers and Satre, and was how Heidegger described his own philosophy (although he didn't like being labelled as an existentialist). I think it's pretty much applicable to the metaphysical sides of Nietzsche and Kirkegaard as well. We need to contrast Existentialism with the style of philosophy which preceded it, the Cartesian metaphysics, in the introduction. Also, I think Hegel's influence on the existentialists, especially Nietzche and Heidegger, needs to be made more clear. Anyone disagree ? Heideggerist (talk) 09:53, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

That's quite a lot for just an intro. However, we can definitely add those to the main article; the "Concepts" section does go into the existence preceding essence idea. Poor Yorick (talk) 12:18, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

So let's base the whole deffinition on one man's opinion. I think not. When you provide some evidence then you can add it in.--72.74.114.109 (talk) 14:01, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, what to say.... I just started reading the Existence article, but it immediately deviates to "existence of god"... ...--- It seems this article of Existentialism, should really be ReNamed to Existentialism philosophy, since it's based on a literary history, or (simultaneously) a History of the "state of the world", as the "Earth sociology" has been evolving... Apparently, nobody bothered to put a HatNote on the page header to see the article Existence, since it is the topic were supposedly elucidating... (the Existence Article, has a See also to "Existentialism" article, but not Vice-Versa).
I've started reading this "Existentialism" article more than once, but refuse to read about the "History of Existentialist philosophy", or Authors, or History of Existental literature. I'm kind-of assuming the article on 1—existence (with authors back to the Greeks, but probably also the "Whole Topic" of the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Egyptian writing Topics, (both kingdom-regions-(Egypt-Mesopotam.) over thousands of years))... and 2—Existentialism philosophy are basically the same topic.... So how about a hatnote or See also to existence or a ReName to Existential philosophy-------
I think maybe trying to get to what "Existentialism" and "Existence" are,.... would be served better by two small articles, that then split into to the OVER-wordy, OVER-topic-ed, OVER-opinioned (by History of cilvilization authors, over the centuries, millenia)... All of the discussions have NO CONCLUSIONS, only lead to more discussion, and much to various religions, and cultures... (In other words, (I will not waste precious existence time, trying to sort out literally centuries, of words, or DEBATES.)
(NOTE) --Existential (disambiguation) redirects to Existentialism. I would make the two smaller articles of Existentialism philosophy, and Existence, and also a page for "Existential (disambiguation)", and break out all the other History of XXXXXX articles required) ---Mmcannis (talk) 04:00, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
In reply to Mmcanniss-- Existentialism is not by any means synonymous to Existence. In case you are unaware, Existentialism refers to a specific philosophy developed in the early to mid 20th century. It does not refer to, say, for example, the Dharmic view of existence, or European views. Existentialism is, in part, a philosophy which explores the topic of existence. But it is not the philosophy of existence (despite what the name might imply). I hope that clarifies.76.183.208.36 (talk) 03:01, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Lede sentence

OK, let's try a few ledes to "define" Existentialism.

  • Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement which maintains that a complete understanding of human existence, authentically including actions and feelings, requires new categories and concepts that are not found in the existing sciences and moral theories, ancient and modern.[1]--JimWae (talk) 10:39, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of late 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences,[1][2][3] shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.[4] In existentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.[5] Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience. -- from 2012-MAR-23
  • Existentialism is generally considered by scholars[not in citation given] to be the group of philosophies which hold that the essence of a human is preceded by[vague] his (or her) existence.[1] There is no general consensus among scholars on the definition nor on how one should use the term as a historical category.[contradictory] The views of existentialist philosophers are generally considered to be profoundly different from each another relative to other philosophies.[1][2][3]< ---- paragraph break --- >The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines existentialism as the philosophical theory which holds that human existence cannot be understood only by natural science, theories of morality, or both.[1] Philosopher John Macquarrie defines existentialism as the philosophy which holds that philosophical thinking begins with the thinking human subject.[4] Some scholars argue[not in citation given] that the use of the term should be restricted to the philosophical views of Jean-Paul Sartre.[1] Other scholars argue that the term should be used to refer to the cultural movement in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s associated with the works of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus. - current as of 2012-APR-13 ( --JimWae (talk) 22:26, 13 April 2012 (UTC) )
(This is with great gratitude to both Byelf2007 and JimWae for their recent excellent work---rescuing this critical article from the sloughs of despond, moribund, mal-organize and inpenetrable.)
Existentialism by now covers many concepts not discussed by Sarte; its modern definition in Wikipedia should not be limited by his famous thesis. The first lede offered above by JimWae is by far the most apt of the three; it provides readability, conciseness and breadth of scope for further development. --Jbeans (talk) 09:47, 14 April 2012 (UTC)


Perhaps something like this: --JimWae (talk) 11:04, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement which maintains that a complete understanding of human existence, authentically including actions and feelings, requires new categories and concepts that are not found in the existing sciences and moral theories, ancient and modern.[1][5]

Existentialism originated in the late 19th-century as a reaction against the abstract rationalism of Hegel and Kant, with its seminal authors rejecting claims that achieving objective knowledge could ever fully satisfy the needs of humans.[6] In the 20th Century, despite other profound doctrinal differences,[1][7] its advocates continued to regard traditional, systematic, and academic philosophy, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.[8][9]


I agree with the 'something like this'---and offer these mods; (I favor less words and more simple as more readable, bless wikipedia---but do the refs still work?):

Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement; it maintains that understanding human existence requires new categories and concepts not found in the existing sciences and moral theories, ancient and modern.[1][10]

Existentialism originated in the late 19th-century as a reaction against the abstract rationalism of Hegel and Kant, with its seminal authors rejecting claims that achieving objective knowledge could ever fully satisfy the needs of humans.[11] In the 20th Century, despite other profound doctrinal differences among themselves,[1][12]its advocates continued to regard the traditional philosophies as too remote from modern human experience, and as too abstract to guide the layman seeker.[13][14]

end comment.--Jbeans (talk) 09:38, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
How about this:
  • " Existentialism is generally considered by scholars [of philosophy] to refer to the group of philosophies which hold that a comprehensive understanding of human existence requires concepts other than natural science and morality.[citations] "

OR

  • " Existentialism is generally considered by scholars [of philosophy] to refer to the group of philosophies which hold that a comprehensive understanding of human existence requires concepts other than natural science and morality, and that the essence of a human is determined by its existence.[citations] "

As for the Stanford link, I said it defines existentialism as "the philosophical theory which holds that human existence cannot be understood only by natural science, theories of morality, or both." because from what I can tell that's what it does define it as in its article, albeit in a very roundabout way:

It says (after explaining how there's no general consensus for the definition) that " “Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. "

And what are these "further set"? In the previous paragraph, the article says: "On the existential view, to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths that natural science...could tell us" and also "Nor can such an understanding be gained by supplementing our scientific picture with a moral one."

Therefore, what the article says in the next paragraph is, in effect: “Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, and not including natural science and morality, are necessary to grasp human existence, and this does not preclude the possibility that you need natural science and morality in addition to whatever these other categories are (all we really know here is that natural science and morality aren't enough).

I hope this all gets us a little closer to a solution. It is because of the lack of general consensus that I want us to nail down a definition we're all happy with. Otherwise, going with "variously defined by sources/no general agreement" at the beginning seems preferable, as much as I'd like a specific definition. I don't want us to go with one source or just stick prominent ones together. Byelf2007 (talk) 15 April 2012

Much preferred the previous lede, which had been stable for quite some time. "Existentialism is variously defined by sources" does not strike me as an encyclopedic lede sentence. Most of the suggestions above are too vague for readers who come to the page wanting to know something about the subject ("...a comprehensive understanding of human existence requires concepts other than natural science and morality" -- really? like what?; "...understanding human existence requires new categories and concepts not found in the existing sciences and moral theories" -- well, how does that distinguish it from Platonism, Hegelianism, or any other new start in philosophy? What was wrong with the old lede which said was existentialism was? Are we tinkering for the sake of it?KD Tries Again (talk) 23:12, 15 April 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again
I agree that starting with "variously defined by sources" is a bad idea. Byelf2007 (talk) 17 April 2012

The definition presently given: Existentialism is generally defined as the group of philosophies which hold that the essence of a human is determined by its existence" is not helpful to the reader - it is jargon - ALTERED semi-famous jargon, but jargon. This also focusses too much on Sartre. As asked BEFORE, what are some of the philosophies that belong to this "group of philosophies"? The pronoun "its" is a poor word choice - does it refer to people or essence? Right now, it reads as saying "an essence is determined by that essences' existence". Fixing that one thing, however, does not fix the many problems here. Also, this fails verification, since sources cited do not define existentialism this way - and changing "precedes" to "determines" is editorial synthesis.

If there is no general consensus then HOW -- ON WHAT BASIS -- is it "generally defined as" X? The reader is owed some account of this discrepancy. Failing that, he should not be burdened with any statement about how it is "generally defined" -- PARTICULARLY not when that "definition" is the ALTERED jargon of ONE author (Sartre). --JimWae (talk) 21:27, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

How about this?
Existentialism is generally defined as the group of philosophies which hold that the essence--explanation of what this means--of a human is determined by its existence--explanation of what this means.
I don't want to start off with "variously defined by sources", preferring some sort of definition that is "generally" agreed upon. Would my idea work? It's been pointed out by 'KD Tries Again' that "concepts other than natural science and morality" isn't enough for us to distinguish what is generally considered "existentialism" from other philosophies/groups of philosophies. Byelf2007 (talk) 17 April 2012
Existentialism started out (and continued) as a reaction against systematic philosophies. It is questionable that its proponents ever AGREED on what those other concepts ought to be, BUT among the ones proposed are those contained in the themes of dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment, nothingness. Whether it was a failed "research project" or not is beside the point. Whether all the "researchers" reached the same conclusion about what was needed or not also does not mean we cannot find common intentions and themes among the "researchers". It was a movement, and perhaps a "philosophy" - but, very possibly, not. Treat it as a movement (even as a cultural AND philosophic one) and some of the issues do not come up.--JimWae (talk) 21:47, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
I've questioned "group of philosophies" several times now, with nothing addressed in response to that.--JimWae (talk) 21:52, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Something like:

Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement that began in the mid-19th century, in reaction to then-existing systematic philosophies, sciences and moral theories.[1][15] Its thinkers searched for new categories and concepts which would authentically include actions and feelings in an attempt to more fully understand human existence.[1][15] Common themes have included dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, uncertainty, freedom, commitment, and nothingness.[1]

-- or *like* what it was 2012-MAR-23--JimWae (talk) 22:05, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

WP:LEDE does not require the 1st sentence give a complete def - but does support doing so by the end of the 1st paragraph --JimWae (talk) 22:19, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

How about this? (I'm trying to have this be as precise and concise as possible)

Existentialism is generally considered ["by X", or perhaps we insert nothing here] to be a philosophical movement that began in the 19th century as a reaction to existing systematic philosophies.[1][15] Its original thinkers opposed the notion of the dominant philosophies of the time that only morality and natural science were required to fully understand human existence. Existentialists argued that additional concepts were required to better understand human existence.[1][15] There is no general consensus ["among X", or perhaps we insert nothing here] on the definition of the term. Existentialists generally argue that philosophical thinking begins with the individual rather than the universal.[citations] Common concepts used in existentialist thought include essence, the absurd, freedom, nothingness, authenticity, and the other.[citations] Common issues covered in existentialist thought include angst, despair, dread, boredom, alienation, uncertainty, and commitment.[1]

A few points--
  • on "cultural movement" - I'm not sure if existentialism is really generally considered to be a cultural movement. I think we want a definition that will be as accurate as possible, which means that it needs to be a popular as possible, which means that it ought to be shorter whenever doing so doesn't leave us with a lot less accuracy (the longer the definition, the more controversial it's going to be). It's my understanding that existentialism as a cultural thing is pretty much mid-20th century Europe, but most people don't use the term that way. (we also already cover how some use the term to refer to it as the cultural Europe thing).
  • on "which would authentically include actions and feelings" - this is kinda vague (without contextual info). I don't think we want to put this in until the reader would know what it means from reading the article.
  • We ought to establish that there is no general consensus (meaning *vast* majority) on the definition of the term in the lead as soon as possible (in the lead).
  • The litany at the end "common themes" concerns a few phenomenon, but I wouldn't call them themes. Furthermore, I'm not sure why we'd want to cover "themes". I think it would be better to be more precise, which means covering common concepts. For example, the current list in the "concepts" section of the article provides a better idea of what existentialism is rather than the litany. I also think it's good to put emphasis on what concepts existentialists focus on/promote, instead of just issues they talk about a lot. It's accurate to say "Existentialists talk a lot about how hard it is being human and dealing with all that human stuff....the anguish! We are doomed!", but that doesn't provide us with a good idea of what makes existentialism existentialism--in other words, what sets it apart from other philosophies which emphasize the 'it's hard being human' issues. Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Crowell, Steven (October 2010). "Existentialism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  2. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 18–21.
  3. ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, New York (1995), p. 259.
  4. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 14–15.
  5. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 14–15.
  6. ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, New York (1995), p. 277.
  7. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 18–21.
  8. ^ Ernst Breisach, Introduction to Modern Existentialism, New York (1962), p. 5.
  9. ^ Walter Kaufmann, Existentialism: From Dostoyevesky to Sartre, New York (1956) p. 12.
  10. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 14–15.
  11. ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, New York (1995), p. 277.
  12. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 18–21.
  13. ^ Ernst Breisach, Introduction to Modern Existentialism, New York (1962), p. 5.
  14. ^ Walter Kaufmann, Existentialism: From Dostoyevesky to Sartre, New York (1956) p. 12.
  15. ^ a b c d John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 14–15.

Leads of Existentialism by published philosophers

Here guys, to help construct a good lead, here's some examples of book explanations used by some professional philosophers. The first three are professional philosophers that don't specialize in existentialism, the rest are philosophers that do; choose your poison :) 204.209.209.129 (talk) 02:31, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

Existentialism refers to any philosophy that assers that the most important philosophical matters involve fundamental questions of meaning and choice as they affect actual-existing-individuals. Existential themes include choice, freedom, identity, alienation, inauthenticity, despair and awareness of our own mortality. Archtypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy, Douglas J. Soccio, p. 395

Existentialism is a kind of philosophy that begins from the concrete reality of the human individual's existence in the world. What is shared by all humans in their day to day life becomes a foundation for knowledge and the nature of reality. Existentialism is focused on human experience from the first person, some "me" or "I".
The Handy Philosophy Answer Book, Naomi Zack, p. 256

Existentialism is a key movement in philosophy that can be traced back to the work of Søren Kierkegaard. Against Hegel's systematic philosophy, Kierkegaard argued that the lived experience of the 'singular individual' formed a special mode of being that resisted capture by scientific or essentialist claims about human nature. It is this emphasis on the primacy of first person experience that characterizes existentialism, in both its literary and philosophical manifestations.
The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy, John Mullarkey, Beth Lord (eds.), p. 291

Though they may disagree about the details, the existentialists are linked by their commitment to the common themes of freedom, choice, authenticity, alienation, and rebellion.
Basic Writings of Existentialism, Gordon Marino, pp. xiv

Existentialism addresses questions that arise for individuals in the course of actually living out their lives. The emphasis in exisentialism, as the name suggests, is on the concrete nature of existence. An inquiry of this sort is needed, existentialists claim, because the standard way of thinking about human beings - the conception of humans as members of a species or instances of a natural kind - generally leaves out of account such dimensions of life as passion, integrity, authenticity, and commitment. The feeling that mainstream approaches to human phenomena leave something important out of account was expressed by Søren Kierkegaard over 150 years ago. "To be a human being means to belong to a race endowed with reason, to belong to it as a specimen, so that the race or species is higher than the individual, which is to say that there are no more indivdiuals but only specimens."
The Existentialists, Charles B. Guignon, p. 1

The term "existentialism" has traditionally been notoriously difficult to define due to the fact that the word has been attached to the work of so many different thinkers with such diverse agendas and writings. However, there can be no doubt that most of the thinkers who are usually associated with the existentialist tradition, for whatever their actual doctrines, were in one way or another influenced by the writings of Kierkegaard. ... Perhaps most significantly his rejection of German idealism as a model for philosophical analysis and his focus instead on the lived experience of the individual were key sources of inspiration for the existentialist writers. They too sought to develop a new kind of philosophy that was more in touch with the actual problems of human life and existence, while rejecting what they regarded as abstract conceptual analysis for its own sake.
Kierkegaard and Existentialism, Jon Stewart, p. ix

What is Existentialism? It is perhaps the most misunderstood of modern philosophic positions —- misunderstood by reason of its broad popularity and general unfamiliarity with its origins, representatives, and principles. Existential thinking does not originate with Jean-Paul Sartre. It has prior religious, literary, and philosophic origins. In its narrowest formulation it is a metaphysical doctrine, arguing as it does that any definition of man’s essence must follow, not precede, an estimation of his existence. In Heidegger, it affords a view of being in its totality; in Kierkegaard an approach to that inwardness indispensable to authentic religious experience; for Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Rilke the existential situation bears the stamp of modern man’s alienation, up-rootedness, and absurdity; to Sartre it has vast ethical and political implications.
Existentialism From Dostoyevsky to Sartre, Walter Kaufmann, p. 326

Existentialism is a philosophy that takes as its starting point the individual's existence. Everything that it has to say, and everything that it believes can be said of significance - about the world we inhabit, our feelings, thoughts, knowledge, ethics, - stems from this central founding idea. Hence what sets it apart from most other philosophies is that it begins with the individual rather than the universal and so does not aim to arrive at general truths: its insistence on personal insights as the only means to real understanding entails that it makes no claims to objective knowledge.
Existentialism: A Guide for the Perplexed, Steven Earnshaw, p. 1

Thank you very much. I'm glad we have so many more sources. This means we're now better able to come up with a good definition. Of course, it also means we have more work to do to achieve this. The anguish! Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012

More on lede

Instead of saying "there is no general consensus....", the last sentence of the defintional paragraph (i.e. the 1st) could say that some scholars have remarked that existentialism is difficult to define - and then provide 2 sources that say that--JimWae (talk) 04:46, 18 April 2012 (UTC)--JimWae (talk) 04:46, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
I guess we don't have to put in "no general consensus" (because we've got a paragraph of various definitions anyway), but if we don't, we MUST have a definition that says "Existentialism is generally defined as..." instead of "Existentialism is..." Otherwise, the reader might conclude "Well, this article says it's been notoriously difficult to define existentialism, but the article still defines existentialism as thus and so, therefore, I will believe existentialism IS thus and so, just like the wikipedia definition of everything else is correct, and that there therefore is a general consensus on the term, because, otherwise, why would wikipedia say it's thus and so if there's isn't a general consensus about it?" Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012
It qualifies as a cultural movement because it also appears in other fields besides philosophy - literature (novels, poems - even comic books ), psychology, religion, theatre/film/drama, ... -- even art (painting). That is one way that Ex-m differs from other movements within philosophy --JimWae (talk) 04:49, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
It depends on the definition. However, if there is a general agreement by sources that existentialism is also cultural, then that's fine. Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012

Comparison with Transhumanism

Transhumanism is a featured philosophy article which uses the 3 paragraph approach: Definition, History, Legacy (Critics/Supporters) I think Existentialism should continue to go that route. Definition is the hardest obviously, but distillation of the above references suggest focusing on how existentialism is an individual-centred philosophy rather than an abstract one, and how it takes existence as its starting point. History should continue briefly discussing Kierkegaard's role in forming existential philosophy against the backdrop of Hegel's idealism. And legacy should discuss the critics and supporters of existentialism 204.209.209.129 (talk) 03:13, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

We basically already have this except we have a '1.5 paragraph' on the various definitions because there are so many. If we combined the 1.5 paragraph with another, we'd end up with a very long paragraph which would look strange. Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012

My attempt on a lede

Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement that began in the early 19th century, rejecting then-prevalent systematic philosophy and theology. Its seminal figures reject the reduction of human existence to an object of knowledge and argue that the starting point of philosophical thinking must begin with the individual and its lived experiences. Beyond this general definition, existentialists disagree among themselves on how to approach thinking about existence.

The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is considered the father of existentialism.[1][2] He maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely,[3][4] in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.[5] Subsequent existentialist philosophers retain the emphasis on the individual, but differ, in varying degrees, on how one achieves and what constitutes a fulfilling life, what obstacles must be overcome, and what external and internal factors are involved, including the potential consequences of the existence[6][7] or non-existence of God.[8][9]

Existentialism became popular after World War II and has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of disciplines. Supporters use existential ideas in many other fields besides philosophy such as theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology. Detractors assert that existentialists confuse their use of terminology and contradict themselves.[10][11]

Suggestions? Comments? 204.209.209.129 (talk) 06:08, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

This is good, but I have a few objections:
  • This is an article about a particular thing. I think it therefore ought to have a particular definition right away. Saying existentialism is "a...X" doesn't enable us to differentiate it from another philosophy that can be defined the same way, yet is generally considered to not be existentialist (if such a philosophy exists). However, I'm aware that this isn't requisite according to wikipedia policy.
  • It isn't made clear (explicitly at least) that existentialists rejected X idea which was also prevalent at the time.
  • It should be "rejected" not "reject", and "argued" not "argue".
  • "Theology" is redundant because all theology is philosophy.
  • "Beyond this general definition" That sounds weak. It's not a general definition anyway.
  • History should be in the 'history paragraph' if we go with my preferred lead paragraph.
  • I think saying Kierkegaard was a "father" or "forefather" is silly and sexist. I prefer "creator" or "founder".
  • There is no way to argue Kierkegaard is the "official" creator of existentialism, because of the various definitional issues we've discussed, so he's "generally considered" the creator.
  • There was elimination of content.

How about this?

Existentialism is generally considered to be a philosophical and cultural movement that began in the early 19th century, rejecting the views of then-prevalent systematic philosophy on the nature of human existence. Its seminal figures rejected the reduction of human existence to an object of knowledge and argued that the starting point of philosophical thinking must begin with the individual and its lived experiences. Beyond this definition, existentialists disagree among themselves on how to approach thinking about existence.[sources]

The term existentialism was never used by its seminal figures, which has made the issue of defining the term a matter of scholarly debate. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines existentialism as the philosophical theory which holds that human existence cannot be understood only by natural science, theories of morality, or both.[12] [additional precise definitions] Other scholars argue that the term should be used to refer to the cultural movement in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s associated with the works of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus.[12] The term is often used to be synonymous with the philosophical views of Jean-Paul Sartre.[12]

The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered the founder of existentialism.[13][2] Existentialism became popular after World War II and has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of disciplines.[14] Supporters use existential ideas in many other fields besides philosophy such as theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.

The views of existentialist philosophers are generally considered by scholars to be profoundly different from each another relative to other philosophies.[12][15][16] Existentialists generally regard traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.[17][18] Criticisms of existentialist philosophers include the assertions that they confuse their use of terminology and contradict themselves.[19][20][21]

or this? (my preference; first paragraph only)

Existentialism is generally considered to be the philosophical and cultural movement that holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must begin with the individual and its lived experiences, rejecting the reduction of human existence to an object of knowledge. Beyond this definition, existentialists disagree among themselves on how to approach thinking about existence.[sources]

Byelf2007 (talk) 18 April 2012

Hi, 204 here, as an account Archer47.

The term existentialism was never used by its seminal figures, which has made the issue of defining the term a matter of scholarly debate. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines existentialism as the philosophical theory which holds that human existence cannot be understood only by natural science, theories of morality, or both.[12] [additional precise definitions] Other scholars argue that the term should be used to refer to the cultural movement in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s associated with the works of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus.[12] The term is often used to be synonymous with the philosophical views of Jean-Paul Sartre.[12]

This paragraph doesn't belong in the lede. Existentialism was used by a few seminal figures including Sartre in Existentialism is a Humanism. Saying "The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines existentialism as..." is like Encyclopedia Britannica writing: "Existentialism is X. Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia defines existentialism as...". That's pretty unseemly, to me anyway. Debates about usage of the term belongs in the etymology section which should talk about the origin of a word and the development of its meaning, which is pretty much what's at issue.

The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered the founder of existentialism.[22][2] Existentialism became popular after World War II and has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of disciplines.[23] Supporters use existential ideas in many other fields besides philosophy such as theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.

We should keep what the founder of existentialism wrote, as well as what his philosophical descendants agreed and disagreed with.

The views of existentialist philosophers are generally considered by scholars to be profoundly different from each another relative to other philosophies.[12][24][25] Existentialists generally regard traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

The first sentence can be subsumed in the first paragraph sentence: Beyond this definition, existentialists disagree among themselves (and other philosophies?) on how to approach thinking about existence, The second sentence can be subsumed when talking about Existentialism rejecting systematic philosophies.


  • This is an article about a particular thing. I think it therefore ought to have a particular definition right away. Saying existentialism is "a...X" doesn't enable us to differentiate it from another philosophy that can be defined the same way, yet is generally considered to not be existentialist (if such a philosophy exists). However, I'm aware that this isn't requisite according to wikipedia policy.
The definition should be in the first paragraph, not necessarily the first sentence. It flows better (to me anyway) at what Existentialism rejected and what it put forth instead.
  • It isn't made clear (explicitly at least) that existentialists rejected X idea which was also prevalent at the time.
Kierkegaard rejected Hegelianism as the prime systematic philosophy at the time, we can put that in
  • It should be "rejected" not "reject", and "argued" not "argue".
no objection
  • "Theology" is redundant because all theology is philosophy.
no objection
  • "Beyond this general definition" That sounds weak. It's not a general definition anyway.
no objection to removing "general"
  • History should be in the 'history paragraph' if we go with my preferred lead paragraph.
History section should be detailed, the Transhumanism featured article goes Definition, History, Legacy, and goes into a big discussion on history and even etymology. That's fine enough for featured status, I'll go with that.
  • I think saying Kierkegaard was a "father" or "forefather" is silly and sexist. I prefer "creator" or "founder".
founder is fine, father and founder are the terms philosophers use; definitely not creator or forefather.
  • There is no way to argue Kierkegaard is the "official" creator of existentialism, because of the various definitional issues we've discussed, so he's "generally considered" the creator.
Reliable sources overwhelming point to Kierkegaard as the first existentialist or the father/founder of existentialism.
  • There was elimination of content.
What's with the Heidegger Google books highlight long url in the ref?

But%20the%20reversal%20of%20a%20metaphysical%20statement%20remains%20a%20metaphysical%20statement.%20With%20it%2C%20he%20stays%20with%20metaphysics%2C%20in%20oblivion%20of%20the%20truth%20of%20Being.&pg=PA208#v=onepage&q=But%20the%20reversal%20of%20a%20metaphysical%20statement%20remains%20a%20metaphysical%20statement.%20With%20it,%20he%20stays%20with%20metaphysics,%20in%20oblivion%20of%20the%20truth%20of%20Being.&f=false That's pretty unwieldly. The link as well as the search term in another ref would be ok.

Regards, Archer47 (talk) 07:38, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Marino, Gordon. Basic Writings of Existentialism (Modern Library, 2004, p. ix, 3).
  2. ^ a b c McDonald, William. "Søren Kierkegaard". In Edward N. Zalta. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 Edition). 
  3. ^ Watts, Michael. Kierkegaard (Oneworld, 2003, pp.4-6).
  4. ^ Lowrie, Walter. Kierkegaard's attack upon "Christendom" (Princeton, 1968, pp. 37-40).
  5. ^ Corrigan, John. The Oxford handbook of religion and emotion (Oxford, 2008, pp. 387-88).
  6. ^ Livingston, James et al. Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century (Fortress Press, 2006, Chapter 5: "Christian Existentialism").
  7. ^ Martin, Clancy."Religious Existentialism" in Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism (Blackwell, 2006, pp. 188-205).
  8. ^ Robert C. Solomon, Existentialism (McGraw-Hill, 1974, pp. 1–2).
  9. ^ D.E. Cooper Existentialism: A Reconstruction (Basil Blackwell, 1999, p. 8).
  10. ^ Carnap, Rudolf, Uberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache [Overcoming Metaphysics by the Logical Analysis of Speech], Erkenntnis (1932), pp.219–241. Carnap's critique of Heidegger's "What is Metaphysics".
  11. ^ Marcuse, Herbert. "Sartre's Existentialism". Printed in Studies in Critical Philosophy. Translated by Joris De Bres. London: NLB, 1972. p. 161
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Crowell, Steven (October 2010). "Existentialism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  13. ^ Marino, Gordon. Basic Writings of Existentialism (Modern Library, 2004, p. ix, 3).
  14. ^ Guignon, Charles B. and Derk Pereboom. Existentialism: basic writings (Hackett Publishing, 2001, p. xiii).
  15. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 18–21.
  16. ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, New York (1995), p. 259.
  17. ^ Ernst Breisach, Introduction to Modern Existentialism, New York (1962), p. 5.
  18. ^ Walter Kaufmann, Existentialism: From Dostoyevesky to Sartre, New York (1956) p. 12.
  19. ^ Carnap, Rudolf, Uberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache [Overcoming Metaphysics by the Logical Analysis of Speech], Erkenntnis (1932), pp.219–241. Carnap's critique of Heidegger's "What is Metaphysics".
  20. ^ Marcuse, Herbert. "Sartre's Existentialism". Printed in Studies in Critical Philosophy. Translated by Joris De Bres. London: NLB, 1972. p. 161
  21. ^ Martin Heidegger, "Letter on Humanism", in Basic Writings: Nine Key Essays, plus the Introduction to Being and Time , trans. David Farrell Krell (London, Routledge; 1978), 208. Google Books
  22. ^ Marino, Gordon. Basic Writings of Existentialism (Modern Library, 2004, p. ix, 3).
  23. ^ Guignon, Charles B. and Derk Pereboom. Existentialism: basic writings (Hackett Publishing, 2001, p. xiii).
  24. ^ John Macquarrie, Existentialism, New York (1972), pp. 18–21.
  25. ^ Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, New York (1995), p. 259.

Szymczyk's Toilet: The Novel (again)

This self-published, utterly non notable book was added to the article in 2005 (or earlier), and removed then: Talk:Existentialism/Archive 1#Dear ?, Please stop spamming this article!. It was again added in 2007, and removed after Talk:Existentialism/Archive 2#Szymczyk's Toilet: The Novel.. However, as far as I can tell, it was again added in 2007[1], and has stayed in the article (both in the body, and as further reading) until moments ago, when I removed it again. Can people please keep an eye open for this spam and remove it on sight if it reappears? It's rather sad that this redlinked, self-published author and novel stood for four years in this article without any apparent problem, and despite two previous discussions about it. Fram (talk) 07:42, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

This book is currently taught in college Existentialism courses. Maybe a new talk concerning its entry is in order.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1686610.Toilet — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.215.194.245 (talk) 04:56, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Kierkegaard

I am thinking "progenitor". Geez, I've nearly become an existentialist 'again'. Life is not all about truth and doing the right thing. Other things make us happy besides seeking truth & being good, and sometimes we "hurt". I am sure this is important in human relations and psychology. I'm not sure what it's got to do with philosophy, tho'. Btw, how much Existentialist literature is about being happy? --JimWae (talk) 10:11, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

Well, it's just an answer to Aristotle's assertion that life is all about truth and doing the right thing. That we were all meant to be contemplative philosophers because reason is our best trait and that wisdom necessarily produces happiness. When we get to ideas like "the rational is the real", we're going too far. Yes, reason is our best trait, but it's not our only trait. And it can't be used to define us, before we were even born. Existential literature is not just about being simply "happy", if you want that, the aesthetic stage is your best bet. But being "authentic"; that requires more than just happiness. Archer47 (talk) 10:52, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Aristotle often gets undeserved blame. Doesn't he say happiness is virtuous activity... and aren't there many virtues? Does he really say life (or even happiness) is all about truth and doing the right thing? Wouldn't Kierkegaard have heard that more at church? --JimWae (talk) 11:35, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Kierkegaard often gets undeserved blame too, so join the club. Happiness is not a virtue, it's a telos, and contemplative activity greatly contributes to it. For Aristotle, life is all about truth and doing the right thing, because doing the right thing all the time and truthful contemplation are conducive to achieving happiness. Kierkegaard does agree with the virtues of being ethical and kind, thoughtful and considerate, to love the neighbour and all that; but Kierkegaard doesn't agree with Aristotle that contemplative activity ought to necessarily be our life's work. Where Aristotle writes that man ought to live the contemplative life since that leads to happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics, Kierkegaard writes in his justly famous letter: "the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die." We can choose to be contemplative if we want, but we aren't born to be so. Existence precedes essence, and so forth, etc etc. Archer47 (talk) 13:41, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

If his earliest journals are 1836 and his published works were not until the 1840s, isn't he a *mid*-19th century thinker? --JimWae (talk) 10:38, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

His mid 19th-century 1850s works aren't the ones that contribute to his reputation as "progenitor/precursor/father" of existentialism, it was the early 19th century 1830/40s works and journals that really cemented his legacy in existentialism. Archer47 (talk) 10:52, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

The Lede again (again)

Existentialism is not "a" movement, as the historical sections of the article show quite vividly. A number of the leading practitioners were referred to as existentialists only retrospectively, and were working independently - even in ignorance - of each other. This is the reason there are difficulties of definition. The label was applied retrospectively (in particular by Jean Wahl) after Sartre and Camus became famous. The old lede dealt with this by beginning:

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of late 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophy, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

This was accurate, sourced, and had all the necessary qualifications. It's a pity it has been abandoned.KD Tries Again (talk) 21:01, 19 April 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again

It became a cultural movement (per several sources), even if it did not start that way. Few movements start as movements. WP:LEDE and WP:NOTDIC frown on having articles about "terms" (though some exceptions might be inevitable)--JimWae (talk) 22:37, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Interestingly, the SEP entry currently cited begins by defining existentialism as "a term." I think it's a horrible piece of writing, and I'm uncomfortable that we're mainly using the SEP's words without actually quoting. In any case, the SEP article doesn't define authenticity as anything like "personality, spirit or character" so I've moved the reference to exclude it.KD Tries Again (talk) 19:36, 25 April 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again

Re those emendations

1) re "the lived experience of the individual"; I have seen this phrase in the literature more than once, but can't find it now; it implies same as "actual" experience of the individual; NB, "experience" is a plural here, ie, accumulating all the person's experience-lived-to-date. ACCEPT; or AGREE as marked.

2) re Byelf2007> "..'points' ... implies that either ...suffices(s)"; REPLY> does not. The whistled call would apply against the phrase "EITHER A OR B" >but not as it is, "A AND B". (but just between us 'grammarns', both "A AND B" and "A OR B" makes the referent subject plural); however, my concern is the 'more-basic': that non-grammarian readers will see it as wikipedians not minding their p's & q's---ie, their subject-verb agreements.

3) re "..then-dominant systematic.." inserts detail (and jargon) not needed here, for the reader of the lede---and which can be explicated in the body; (is there a distinction needed here, as say from "non-systematic" philosophies"?---if not, why bring it up here?). ACCEPT, but the definite article is needed on the noun "philosophies".

4) re we talkin' serious grammer, here: commmaas; (I'm the oldest member of Grammarians Passionately Opposed to Promiscuous Comma-ing in Public, just say "G'POP". Motto: Improve your flow---clear out 90 percent of your commas!) The reading-flow is fixed by rewriting sentences, then dropping commas until it sounds right; NB, "..attracting A and influencing B.." is a balanced phrase of two equal parts, which calls for seamless treatment: ie, no comma; nor does the length of "..for living life passionately and sincerely even in view of ... ." require a comma; it flows well without the forced pause.--Jbeans (talk) 10:24, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Deteriorating Lede

The first sentence is now just plain wrong. Existentialism is not "the" philosophical movement which starts with the experiences of the individual. There are any number of such schools of philosophy. It's one of the commonest strategies in the subject. And then we have "alternatively" it's something else, ending - as I observed earlier - with a definition of authenticity which can't be derived from the source quoted.

Anyone want to fix this? If not, I'll revert to an earlier version which had some consensus.

Let's not have a lede which is just completely misleading.KD Tries Again (talk) 14:25, 3 May 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again

The expansion on "authenticity" is well-sourced & consistent with the expansion in the Stanford article --JimWae (talk) 18:42, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
2> You have left out some important word regarding the 1st sentence. 3>The earlier lede also said "who shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject" (without the "must"). I do agree neither 1st sentence "picks out" existentialism as well as the current 2nd sentence does. --JimWae (talk) 18:46, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
It appears to me that we can and ought to exercise some common sense with respect to getting a good definition. I believe the definition I just wrote (basically sticking the two together) is the most accurate definition for the term or at least very close. Byelf2007 (talk) 3 May 2012
This is an improvement. KD Tries Again (talk) 14:23, 7 May 2012 (UTC)KD Tries Again

Definition catch-all

Somewhere towards the end of the lede or in the section Definitional issues should be the observation: In the true spirit of existentialism the definition should be determined by the individual. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SpainWon (talkcontribs) 04:14, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

I would like to propose a new first sentence, definition for "Existentialism" in order to more briefly, accurately define it.

The best definition I can come up with for "Existentialism":

Existentialism is the art of attempting to philosophically rationalize psychological depression and anxiety. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.14.114.220 (talk) 19:41, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

That's funny, but please don't vandalize this site. Byelf2007 (talk) 15 August 2012

Nolan's Batman

Can some one make it clear to me if Nolan's Batman Series has existentialism themes ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.234.27.223 (talk) 20:11, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Capitalization

I see some inconsistency in capitalization of Existentialism. Many style mavens say not to, but it seems to me Existentialism is very much in the same category as Impressionism, which nearly everybody capitalizes. Similarly the adjective form does not seem to call for capitalization, ie: impressionistic, existentialist. --JimWae (talk) 20:48, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Who coined the word 'existential'

It is my understanding that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge first used the word 'existential' around the year 1800. He was known to have contacts with the German romantic poets of his day. Gene Harter (talk) 23:19, 9 April 2013 (UTC)— Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.192.243.23 (talk) 23:09, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Earlier. Appears to be seventeenth century in English.KD Tries Again (talk) 18:01, 1 May 2013 (UTC)KD Tries Again

From Kierkegaard to Zoroaster: a lightning tour?

In its current version [2] the lead seems to have an issue with undue weight. Pace Heidegger, Camus, Sartre et al, it leaps from Kierkegaard to Zoroaster to conclude "However, God, in his eternal knowledge..."

The unsourced content on Zoroastrianism does not currently appear anywhere else on the page. I feel it's better to move it here, broadly per WP:LEAD:

Existentialism, in its simple form, can be traced back to Zoroastrianism. Free will is the essence of Zoraster's teachings. Man, in the mixed state (of good and evil), is free to choose to be on the side of Ahura Mazda (the Wise Lord, the Good Spirit and the creator of all good)or to follow Ahriman, the Evil Spirit, who is the creator of all evil in the world. However, God, in his eternal knowledge, knows that at the end, man will choose good over evil.

86.161.251.139 (talk) 10:25, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

project philosophy?

shouldn't this article be within the scope of the WikiProject Philosophy and as such have the template? 68.174.97.122 (talk) 17:13, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

It should and it does. Do you not see it up near the top of this page? Greg Bard (talk) 20:19, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
ooooh, i see the one-liner at the top of this page, but i expected a sort of info-box on the article page itself as some projects have, or at the bottom, one of those little outline type navigation trees. not a big deal, but I was looking to navigate my way around and touch on the major schools of thought or something. 68.174.97.122 (talk) 04:58, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
At the bottom of most major articles there is a navigation template (or two). You may need to "unhide" it. Usually, we don't use the talk page for navigating.Greg Bard (talk) 06:46, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Ambiguities

Under the heading "General criticisms"[1]...

1) In the second sentence, who does the word "they" refer to in the previous sentence: existentialists or Rudolf Carnap and Alfred Ayer? 
2) Existentialists (mis)use the term in "this manner." Which of the aforementioned manners is that ("this")? 

If anyone knows the original antecedents of the above stated ambiguous, anaphoric language, please help by clarifying their meaning! Merci d'avance! (76.101.85.113 (talk) 23:57, 13 November 2013 (UTC))

Missing Text

Unless I am mistaken, there is a significant amount of missing text in the section "Existentialism and Religion". Did it get accidentally deleted? Is an older version archived, or can the original editor reconstruct it? Barry M. Lamont 20:19, 25 April 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barry M. Lamont (talkcontribs)

P.S.: I'm not sure why this was listed as "unsigned", since I DID sign it, and everything is properly set on my User Page! Barry M. Lamont 20:30, 25 April 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barry M. Lamont (talkcontribs)