Philosophy of life

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Wilhelm Dilthey Dilthey1-4.jpg
Wilhelm Dilthey

There are at least two senses in which the term philosophy is used: a formal and an informal sense. In the formal sense, philosophy is an academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social and political philosophy. One's "philosophy of life" is philosophy in the informal sense, as a personal philosophy, whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human condition. [1]

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The term also refers to a specific conception of philosophizing as a way of life, [2] endorsed by the German Lebensphilosophie movement whose main representative is Wilhelm Dilthey [3] and several other Continental philosophers such as Henri Bergson [4] and Pierre Hadot. [2]

The human situation

The human situation appears to be a struggle between what is (existence) and what ought (essence) to be.

Main answers to the existential question

There are at least three prevailing theories on how to respond to the existential question.

Denial of essence

Denial of existence

Affirmation of life

Religion as an attempt to overcome the existential predicament

There are two basic forms of existentialism:

Religious existentialism

Religious existentialism is best exemplified by St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Paul Tillich, and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Religious existentialism holds that there are two levels of reality, essence, which is the ground of being, and existence. Religion is the ultimate concern in this view.

Atheistic existentialism

Atheistic existentialism is best exemplified by Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. It holds that there is one level of reality, existence. In this view, each person constructs his own unique and temporary essence.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Existentialism is a tradition of philosophical enquiry which takes as its starting point the experience of the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. It is associated mainly with certain 19th- and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief in that beginning of philosophical thinking.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

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Paul Tillich German-American theologian and philosopher

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Christian existentialism An existentialist approach to Christian theology

Christian existentialism is a theo-philosophical movement which takes an existentialist approach to Christian theology. The school of thought is often traced back to the work of the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855).

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Existential crisis Psychological concept

An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life. This issue of the meaning and purpose of human existence is a major focus of the philosophical tradition of existentialism.

<i>Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments</i> book attributed to Søren Kierkegaard

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French philosophy, here taken to mean philosophy in the French language, has been extremely diverse and has influenced Western philosophy as a whole for centuries, from the medieval scholasticism of Peter Abelard, through the founding of modern philosophy by René Descartes, to 20th century philosophy of science, existentialism, phenomenology, structuralism, and postmodernism.

In philosophy, facticity has a multiplicity of meanings from "factuality" and "contingency" to the intractable conditions of human existence.

The proposition that existence precedes essence is a central claim of existentialism, which reverses the traditional philosophical view that the essence of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence. To existentialists, human beings—through their consciousness—create their own values and determine a meaning for their life because the human being does not possess any inherent identity or value. That identity or value must be created by the individual. By posing the acts that constitute them, they make their existence more significant.

Meaning in existentialism is descriptive; therefore it is unlike typical, prescriptive conceptions of "the meaning of life". Due to the methods of existentialism, prescriptive or declarative statements about meaning are unjustified. The root of the word "meaning" is "mean", which is the way someone or something is conveyed, interpreted, or represented. Each individual has his or her own form of unique perspective; meaning is, therefore, purely subjective. Meaning is the way something is understood by an individual; in turn, this subjective meaning is also how the individual may identify it. Meaning is the personal significance of something physical or abstract. This would include the assigning of value(s) to such significance.

Lebensphilosophie is a philosophical school of thought which emphasises the meaning, value and purpose of life as the foremost focus of philosophy.

Atheistic existentialism is a kind of existentialism which strongly diverged from the Christian existential works of Søren Kierkegaard and developed within the context of an atheistic world view. The philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche provided existentialism's theoretical foundation in the 19th century, although their differing views on religion proved essential to the development of alternate types of existentialism. Atheistic existentialism was formally recognized after the 1943 publication of Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre and Sartre later explicitly alluded to it in Existentialism is a Humanism in 1946.

Jewish existentialism is a category of work by Jewish authors dealing with existentialist themes and concepts, and intended to answer theological questions that are important in Judaism. The existential angst of Job is an example from the Hebrew Bible of the existentialist theme. Theodicy and post-Holocaust theology make up a large part of 20th century Jewish existentialism.

Existential nihilism is the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism suggests that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. According to the theory, each individual is an isolated being born into the universe, barred from knowing ‘why’. The inherent meaninglessness of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism, where one can potentially create their own subjective ’meaning’ or ’purpose’. Of all types of nihilism, existential nihilism has received the most literary and philosophical attention.

This is a list of articles in continental philosophy.

References

Notes

  1. Timothy Fetler, Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion Charts, Sun Press, 1968.
  2. 1 2 Pierre Hadot (1922-2010) by Matthew Sharpe in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. Scott Campbell, Paul W. Bruno (eds.), The Science, Politics, and Ontology of Life-Philosophy, Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 8.
  4. Michael Chase, Stephen R. L. Clark, Michael McGhee (eds.), Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancients and Moderns – Essays in Honor of Pierre Hadot, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, p. 107.

Further reading

Academic journals