Portal:Existentialism

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Existentialism

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Existentialism is a term applied to a range of philosophical thoughts that emphasise on the fundamental nature of existence, exploring the uniqueness of human experience and freedom facing hostile and absurd surroundings. Some existentialists stress on the imperative for individuals to create their own meaning in face of apparent meaninglessness. Prominent thinkers of existentialism include Søren Kierkegaard, Frederich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Lev Shestov (photographed on the right), Jean-Paul Sartre, Karl Jaspers, and Martin Buber.


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The proposition that existence precedes essence (French: l'existence précède l'essence) is a central claim of existentialism, which reverses the traditional philosophical view that the essence or nature of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence.

The idea can be found in the works of Averroes in the 12th century and Mulla Sadra in the 17th century, and was later more explicitly formulated by Jean-Paul Sartre in the 20th century. Simone de Beauvoir also uses this concept in her feminist existentialism to develop the idea that "one is not born a woman, but becomes one". In Islamic philosophy whereas previous methods of philosophical thought held that "essence precedes existence", a concept which dates back to Avicenna and Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, Mulla Sadra substituted a metaphysics of existence for the traditional meta physics of essences, and giving priority ab initio to existence over quiddity.


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Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (/ˈkɪərkəɡɑːrd/; Danish: [ˈsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯kəˌɡ̊ɒˀ] About this sound Listen ) (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticized both the Hegelianism of his time, and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Danish church. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices. His early work was written under various pseudonyms who present their own distinctive viewpoints in a complex dialogue.

Kierkegaard left the task of discovering the meaning of his works to the reader, because "the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted". Scholars have interpreted Kierkegaard variously as an existentialist, neo-orthodoxist, postmodernist, humanist, and as an individualist. Crossing the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, and literature, he is an influential figure in contemporary thought.

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