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The essence of Existentialism’s most important goal is to transcend the meaninglessness of Nihilism.
Existentialism begins be accepting Naturalism’s assertions that only matter exists, there is no god, and that death is the extinction of individuality and personality. However, Existentialists reject the insignificance of human nature and the meaninglessness of our relationship to the cosmos. Therefore, Existentialist’s major concern is in our humanity and how we can be significant in a n otherwise insignificant world.
The inner awareness of the mind is a constant present, a constant now. “I think, therefore I am.” Existentialists recognize that people can know the external, objective world through careful observation, scientific hypothesis and experimentation. However they also know that in the world of the mind, consciousness, and awareness, that time has no real meanings. The subject is always present to itself, never past, never future. Science and logic do not penetrate this other realm; they have nothing to say about subjectivity.
Existentialists emphasize the disunity of the objective and subjective worlds. They choose to assign more value to the subjective world. Our significance is not up to the facts of the objective world over which we have no control. Our significance is based entirely upon the subjective world over which we have complete control.
Paraphrase: Sire, J. (2009) The Universe Next Door. 5th ed. (pp. 117-121) IVP Academic
- What is Prime Reality? What is really real? – The Existentialist’s basic interest is in our humanity and how we can be significant in an otherwise insignificant world.
- What is the Nature of the World? - The cosmos is composed solely of matter, but to human beings reality appears in two forms - subjective and objective.
- What is a Human Being? - For human beings alone existence precedes essence; people make themselves who they are.
- What Happens at Death? - The toughest fact to transcend is the ultimate absurdity - death. When we die, each of us is just an object among other objects.
- Why is it possible to know anything? -In full recognition of, and against the absurdity of the objective world, the authentic person must revolt and create value.
- How do Existentialists know Right from Wrong? - The personal is the valuable. Knowledge is subjectivity; the whole truth is often paradoxical.
- What is the Meaning of Human History? - History as a record of events is uncertain and unimportant. But history as a model or type (or myth) to be made present and lived is of supreme importance.
- What personal, core commitments are consistent with your worldview? – The core commitment of every person is to himself or herself.
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