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23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism

[key to life is freedom and self-creation]

45 ideas
Socrates emphasises that the knower is an existing individual, with existence his main task [Kierkegaard on Socrates]
Essence must be known before we discuss existence [Descartes]
There is a self-determing power in each person, which makes them what they are [Cudworth]
For Kant, essence is mental and is mere idea, and existence is the senses and mere appearance [Feuerbach on Kant]
The in-itself must become for-itself, which requires self-consciousness [Hegel]
I am a creative nothing, out of which I myself create everything [Stirner]
Young Hegelians proposed changing our present consciousness for liberating critical consciousness [Marx/Engels]
Reason is just abstractions, so our essence needs a subjective 'leap of faith' [Scruton on Kierkegaard]
Life may be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards [Kierkegaard]
Speculative philosophy loses the individual in a vast vision of humanity [Kierkegaard]
While big metaphysics is complete without ethics, personal philosophy emphasises ethics [Kierkegaard]
Becoming what one is is a huge difficulty, because we strongly aspire to be something else [Kierkegaard]
Nietzsche thinks the human condition is to overcome and remake itself [Ansell Pearson on Nietzsche]
Man is the animal whose nature has not yet been fixed [Nietzsche]
The thought of suicide is a great reassurance on bad nights [Nietzsche]
The greatest possibilities in man are still unexhausted [Nietzsche]
Over huge periods of time human character would change endlessly [Nietzsche]
By developing herd virtues man fixes what has up to now been the 'unfixed animal' [Nietzsche]
Not feeling harnessed to a system of 'ends' is a wonderful feeling of freedom [Nietzsche]
Existence without meaning or goal or end, eternally recurring, is a terrible thought [Nietzsche]
Virtues from outside are dangerous, and they should come from within [Nietzsche]
Morality used to be for preservation, but now we can only experiment, giving ourselves moral goals [Nietzsche]
Virtuous people are inferior because they are not 'persons', but conform to a fixed pattern [Nietzsche]
Dasein is always only that which it has chosen to be [Heidegger]
Being what it is (essentia) must be conceived in terms of Being (existence) [Heidegger]
'Existence precedes essence' means we have no pre-existing self, but create it through existence [Le Poidevin on Sartre]
Existence before essence (or begin with the subjective) [Sartre]
Existentialism says man is whatever he makes of himself [Sartre]
When a man must choose between his mother and the Resistance, no theory can help [Fogelin on Sartre]
If I do not choose, that is still a choice [Sartre]
To live authentically, we must see that philosophy is totally useless [Cioran]
Unlike other creatures, mankind seems lost in nature [Cioran]
We can only live because our imagination and memory are poor [Cioran]
Life is now more dreaded than death [Cioran]
Men is never himself; he always aims at less than life, or more than life [Cioran]
Essential problems either risk death, or intensify the passion of life [Camus]
Danger and integrity are not in the leap of faith, but in remaining poised just before the leap [Camus]
Central to existentialism is the romantic idea that there is nothing to lean on [Berlin]
Ethical conviction must be to some extent passive, and can't just depend on the will and decisions [Williams,B]
We can't cure ethical uncertainty by taking responsibility for decisions; we are uncertain what to decide [Williams,B]
The key to existentialism is that the way you make choices is more important than what you choose [Graham]
A standard problem for existentialism is the 'sincere Nazi' [Graham]
It is more plausible to say people can choose between values, than that they can create them [Graham]
Existentialism may transcend our nature, unlike eudaimonism [Graham]
Existentialism focuses on freedom and self-making, and insertion into the world [Le Poidevin]