Existentialism Information

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and his or her emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism, maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving their own life meaning and living that life passionately and sincerely, in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.

Subsequent existential philosophers retain the emphasis on the individual, but differ, in varying degrees, on how one achieves and what constitutes a fulfilling life, what obstacles must be overcome, and what external and internal factors are involved, including the potential consequences of the existence or non-existence of God. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophy, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience. Existentialism became fashionable in the post-World War years as a way to reassert the importance of human individuality and freedom.

Existentialism is foreshadowed most notably by 19th-century philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, though it had forerunners in earlier centuries. In the 20th century, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger influenced other existentialist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus. Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Franz Kafka also described existential themes in their literary works. Although there are some common tendencies amongst "existentialist" thinkers, there are major differences and disagreements among them ; not all of them accept the validity of the term as applied to their own work.

Wikipedia, Existentialism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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