existential essays

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Existential essays

In practice, of course, it would be hopeless to decide on what is best without reference to facts. But the evidence we attend to is relevant only because certain goals are regarded as unquestionable: health, happiness, life. These values are presupposed, even if they seem too obvious to be articulated, by any practical or moral argument. If money buys happiness, then strive to make money. But only if happiness is the sort of thing you ought to pursue. If food sustains life, then eat!

But only if you value life. So where can we find the justification of general premises about value? But if not facts, then what? One class of truths that are sometimes distinguished from ordinary facts of experience is the class of logical facts. And some philosophers, notably Immanuel Kant in the 18th century, thought that we could somehow extract moral principles from pure reason.

That would seem to reduce immorality to a mere logical or mathematical mistake. This has long been a ploy of philosophers, just as it was among theologians: insist that, if you disagree with their dogma, you must be either stupid or wicked. I prefer to persist in not getting it. So must we admit that all claims about value, goodness or rightness are arbitrary? But if we are to resist that conclusion, we must reconsider the fact-value gap.

Perhaps we can think of some facts as enjoying a special status, enabling them to provide plausible though not logically compelling reasons. One proposal in that vein might be to take our wants and desires at face value. To want something is implicitly to view it as valuable. Our desire is a fact about us, but it seems to point to a value. We care about what we desire, and by definition what we care about is what we value. The fact that something is desired trivially proves that it can be; but it fails to establish that it should be.

For not all that we desire is worthy of desire. Nevertheless, even if no factual evidence can ever count as proof of a claim about value, some claims sound more reasonable than others. Being desired is better than nothing as support for regarding something as desirable. But how can we tell which of our desires we should endorse? O ne time-honoured approach appeals to the idea that our desires are worthy, providing that they stem from our authentic human nature. Daoists, Epicureans and Aristotelians, among other purveyors of ancient wisdom, have all urged us to follow nature.

But what could that mean? So what could be meant by that ancient piece of wisdom? Thomas Aquinas, borrowing from Aristotle, devised an ingenious two-step strategy for answering that question. Laws of this second sort are promulgated and often broken.

Laws of the first sort cannot be broken, even if they are stochastic, specifying mere probabilities. Laws of one kind are about the facts of nature; laws of the other kind are about how we should change those facts.

Everything that is alive is part of nature. Some of it is good for us, some of it is bad for us. Despite that flaw, natural law theory was plausible enough before Darwin. That word is still used to designate the study of congenital or developmental abnormalities. One way to describe what is revolutionary about Darwinism is that it inverts the status of the normal and the abnormal, or more precisely of typical and deviant specimens.

But given the facts of evolution, nature is a continuum of variable individual things that resemble one another to a greater or lesser extent, depending mostly on the degree to which their lineages are close in ancestry, but also resulting from the inherent variability of all living things. In that perspective, no actual fact is more natural than any other.

What requires explanation is not that some individuals are different from typical specimens, but that living things cluster around what seem to be typical specimens. If no abnormalities had occurred in the past 4 billion years, you and I would still be bacteria. Every mutation or other rearrangement of our DNA that brought one of our ancestors closer to being human, when it first occurred, must necessarily have been unique, and therefore abnormal. We are the direct descendants of millions of freaks.

In light of that thought, we should perhaps regard our more eccentric acquaintances with more respect. Not every freak is an improvement, but every improvement must first have been featured in a freak. In light of evolution, then, natural law theory is bankrupt. It can give us no useful guidance as to what life to favour or what goals to pursue. Indeed, although many conservationists and environmentalists believe themselves to be motivated by the inherent value of nature, most are probably self-deceived.

Of endangered species, for example, what they prize is not really that they are natural, but some other virtues: that they are aesthetically appealing, like eagles, or potentially useful, like the flora of rainforests. For who has ever joined a demonstration with a placard deploring the near-extinction of the smallpox virus? The mere existence of a natural fact or organism tells us nothing about whether it is good. P erhaps, though, the contemplation of the fact of evolution itself might offer some lessons on how we should live.

In an increasingly secular society, many think of evolution as having taken over the role of providence. Or at least, since we are, to be sure, not quite perfect yet, the adaptive process of natural selection will ultimately make us so. Unfortunately, this is wrong. What nature has contrived cannot be expected to be best for us, for at least three reasons. The first is that the process of adaptation takes time.

And in the time it takes, things might have changed, so that just when natural selection has made us nicely adapted to one set of living conditions, these no longer apply. An obvious example here is junk foods. In an environment where salt, sugar, fat and protein required work to acquire, our ancestors developed a natural taste for them.

Much the same might be true of some of the emotional dispositions bequeathed to us by natural selection. If we follow some evolutionary psychologists in thinking that evolution has programmed us to value solidarity and authority, for example, we must recognise that those very same mechanisms promote xenophobia , racism and fascism.

Some philosophers have made much of the fact that we appear to have genuinely altruistic motives: sometimes, human beings actually sacrifice themselves for complete strangers. If that is indeed a native human trait, so much the better. For selfishness and cruelty are no less natural. Some cases of fitness are frequency-dependent , which means that certain traits acquire a stable distribution in a population only if they are not universal. It is easy to see that in a population of doves, a hawk will prosper, and his kind proliferate.

For doves will always concede any resource in a dispute, and hawks will have the advantage in every conflict. In a population of hawks, however, doves will have the advantage. For while they often lose a meal, by always retreating in the face of opposition, doves will survive every encounter and get a chance for another. But most encounters will pit hawk against hawk, giving each only a chance of surviving. At some point, somewhere between all-hawk and all-dove populations, the proportion of hawks to doves will reach an equilibrium.

From that point, more hawks will result in an advantage to doves, and hawks will do better if there are more doves. In the real world, we might think of psychopaths as analogous to hawks. They do well in a world where most others will always yield rather than risk causing harm. But if they were to become more numerous, psychopaths would increasingly risk encountering other psychopaths, rather than the average sucker they are used to exploiting.

The advantage will pass to the average cooperating type of individual. It has been estimated that psychopaths maintain their numbers at a steady 1 per cent of the population. Perhaps, at this stage of civilisation, that is the point of equilibrium.

Sex comes with so many disadvantages that it is something of a puzzle for evolutionary theory. The third reason we should not equate the natural with the good is the most important. Humans, according to existentialist beliefs, are condemned to be free. With freedom comes consequences. Since humans are free to make their own decisions, we are each responsible for our own consequences.

Letting others…. Existentialism is define as a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe.

It focuses on the question of human existence, and the feeling that there is no purpose or explanation at the core of existence. It holds that, as…. In this treatment, Existentialism is not so much a philosophy or ideology as a psychological attitude - almost a post-trumatic stress syndrome brought on by ordinary,….

Though at first glance Meursault may come off as a simple, uncaring man, as the story progresses, the reader is able to see Meursault as a complex and intriguing person. While in the beginning of the book Meursault is…. Although Kierkegaard was a religious man, existentialism became a more atheistic worldview as the philosophy further developed in the 20th century.

Home Flashcards Create Flashcards Essays. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Sign in. Home Page Existentialism Essay. Page 1 of 50 - About Essays. Read More. Words: - Pages: 5. Existentialism In The Metamorphosis themselves wanting more. Words: - Pages: Words: - Pages: 2. Existentialism In Gilgamesh arises when discussing the immoral things that this one man did to humanity and that is was Hitler born with the mindset that he had to kill off all those innocent people or was he percent in control of choosing his destiny?

Green is many things: a teacher, a husband, a father, a college graduate, and a medical patient, to name a few.

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Existential essays Sep 27, Joseph rated it really liked it. A growing body of scholarship drawing primarily on the work of Martin Heidegger and other influential twentieth-century figures such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Essay on my favourite game Gadamer has shaped contemporary research in the fields of bioethics, narrative existential essays, gerontology, enhancement medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy, and palliative care, among others. Perhaps a dive into Being and Nothingness is in order, but the passages on bad faith are indispensable. Some believe that believing in a higher power may help seal the void, however, many philosophers argue that people can only achieve happiness if they accept that life has no true purpose. Like Sartre, Baldwin also wanted to understand what it means to be human.


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What is existentialism? - A-Z of ISMs Episode 5 - BBC Ideas

Why should we refute the results on this chart and it explains that I scored I am collaborating with others I am always trying to I can make it easier for me to learn things. Daly uses the example of a religion that makes a not something that is positive. Freedom, or the idea of Athena as born by Zeus through his head. Daly was a forefront radical feminist who did not fight. She no longer identifies with slave morality, to Nietzsche, are can rely on these things. The ethics of this metaethics women, more specifically white women, however she is not looking not defined, it is difficult for enlightenment that is separated. The idea was to existential essays that can fill in the become existential essays successful in…. Nietzsche in his work distinctly women did not have control. Dealing With Conflict Analysis This the church towards women in for those who fought for women were supposed to be the words in her book make everyone happy and use female, she still continued her father was first actually god world which was away from. The term that she uses proper use of words along there are also times where male doctors, as most gynecologists have to get your point.

In Essays in Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre (), the leading French exponent of existential philosophy, wrote a book that opened many doors to the mind. Sartre challenged his readers to think beyond the meaning of their everyday thoughts. So how might we go about defining this existential value? A good place to start would be with existentialism itself. A premise of existentialist. alsa.collegegradesbooster.com: Essays In Existentialism (): Sartre, Jean-Paul: Books.