Existence precedes essence Sartre claimed that a central proposition of Existentialism is that existence precedes essencewhich means that the most important consideration for individuals is that they are individuals—independently acting and responsible, conscious beings "existence" —rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individuals fit "essence". The actual life of the individuals is what constitutes what could be called their "true essence" instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western philosophical ethics. The ideas of Socrates c. The sudden flowering of philosophy during that period was rooted in the ethical thought of earlier centuries.
In the poetic literature of the 7th and 6th centuries bce, there were, as in other culturesmoral precepts but no real attempts to formulate a coherent overall ethical position. The Greeks were later to refer to the most prominent of these poets and early philosophers as the seven sagesand they are frequently quoted with respect by Plato and Aristotle.
Knowledge of the thought of this period is limited, for often only fragments of original writings, along with later accounts of dubious accuracy, remain. He appears to have written nothing at all, but he was the founder of a school of thought that touched on all aspects of life and that may have been a kind of philosophical and religious order.
In ancient times the school was best known for its advocacy of vegetarianismwhich, like that of the Jains, was associated with the belief that after the death of the body, the human soul may take up residence in the body of an animal see reincarnation.
Pythagoreans continued to espouse this view for many centuries, and classical passages in the works of writers such as Ovid 43 bce—17 ce and Porphyry — opposing bloodshed and animal slaughter can be traced to Pythagoras.
This term was used in the 5th century to refer to a class of professional teachers of rhetoric and argument. The Sophists promised their pupils success in political debate and increased influence in the affairs of the city.
They were accused of being mercenaries who taught their students to win arguments by fair means or foul. Aristotle said that Protagoras c. They regarded themselves as imparters of the cultural and intellectual qualities necessary for success, and their involvement with argument about practical affairs naturally led them to develop views about ethics.
The recurrent theme in the views of the better-known Sophists, such as Protagoras, Antiphon c. He argued that, while the particular content of the moral rules may vary, there must be rules of some kind if life is to be tolerable. Thus, Protagoras stated that the foundations of an ethical system needed nothing from the gods or from any special metaphysical realm beyond the ordinary world of the senses.
He explained that the concept of justice means nothing more than obedience to the laws of society, and, since these laws are made by the strongest political group in its own interest, justice represents nothing but the interest of the stronger.
Presumably he would then encourage his pupils to follow their own interests as best they could. It is not surprising that, with ideas of this sort in circulation, other thinkers should react by probing more deeply into ethics to see whether the potentially destructive conclusions of some of the Sophists could be resisted.
This reaction produced works that have served ever since as the cornerstone of the entire edifice of Western ethics. Yet, unlike other figures of comparable importance, such as the Buddha or Confucius, he did not tell his audience how they should live. What Socrates taught was a method of inquiry.
When the Sophists or their pupils boasted that they knew what justice, piety, temperance, or law was, Socrates would ask them to give an account, which he would then show was entirely inadequate. For those who thought that adherence to the conventional moral code was more important than the cultivation of an inquiring mind, the charge was appropriate.
By conventional standards, Socrates was indeed corrupting the youth of Athens, though he himself considered the destruction of beliefs that could not stand up to criticism as a necessary preliminary to the search for true knowledge. In this respect he differed from the Sophists, with their ethical relativism, for he thought that virtue is something that can be known and that the virtuous person is the one who knows what virtue is.
SocratesSocrates, herm from a Greek original, second half of the 4th century bce; in the Capitoline Museums, Rome. He believed that virtue could be known, though he himself did not profess to know it.
He also thought that anyone who knows what virtue is will necessarily act virtuously. Those who act badly, therefore, do so only because they are ignorant of, or mistaken about, the real nature of virtue.
This belief may seem peculiar today, in large part because it is now common to distinguish between what a person ought to do and what is in his own interest. Once this assumption is made, it is easy to imagine circumstances in which a person knows what he ought to do but proceeds to do something else—what is in his own interests—instead.Erik Erikson described an identity crisis as a period of intense exploration of different roles and aspects of the self.
an identity crisis is a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at Identity achievement occurs when an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a. Through the ideas of existentialism, philosophers have looked at the existence of the human being.
An existential attitude of the world is one of confusion and belief in a meaningless world. An existential attitude of the world is one of confusion and belief in a meaningless world.
The Philosophy of Existentialism Being cannot be made a topic of objective study. Being is revealed to and felt by the human being through his own experience and his situation. So it is maintained existence is the first and central problem.
in the final analysis, it is traceable to various world outlooks, the human being's conception of. Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in English in ; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
His seminal work The Courage to Be follows Kierkegaard's analysis of anxiety and life's absurdity, This can take many forms, from pretending choices are meaningless or random, through convincing oneself that some form of determinism is true, Anxiety's importance in existentialism makes it a popular topic in psychotherapy.
Existentialism Viktor Emil Frankl () One of the proponents of Existentialism is Viktor Emil Frankl who established a form of Existential Analysis known as the logotherapy or the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.”.