Download An Introduction to Existentialism by Robert G. Olson PDF

By Robert G. Olson

Crucial consultant to at least one of the main influential idea structures of our century. Stressing the paintings of Heidegger and Sartre, it bargains a cautious and target exam of the existentialist place and values — freedom of selection, person dignity, own love, artistic attempt — and solutions to the everlasting questions of the human situation.

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Sample text

For consciousness the acorn exists in the manner of being the non-being of the oak tree. As a meaningful phenomenon, the acorn is understood as what it is by virtue of what it lacks. What is Existentialism? 29 Consciousness constantly introduces non-being, negation, negativities, lack, absence into the world in order to make sense of it and to act purposefully within it. In technical terms we can say, phenomena are grounded not upon being but upon non-being, they arise for consciousness when consciousness places particular negations into undifferentiated, porridge-like being so giving rise to differentiated being.

A person’s entire world can exist in the mode of the negative; in the manner of not being the presence of whatever is desired. The misery of missing someone or something is rooted in this negating of the world. The misery of withdrawing psychologically from a drug, for example, lies not so much in the loss of the pleasure the drug gave, but in the reduction of the whole world to a dull background that has no other significance or value than to be the perpetual affirmation of the drug’s absence.

He is a subject absorbed in what he is doing and does not judge himself. He is free to transcend the meaning of his act and does not have to define himself as a bit of a pervert. Later on, if he reflects on his act, he can avoid branding himself a pervert by telling himself his act was simply an aberration and so on, a meaningless distraction with no bearing on his character or morals. Suddenly, however, he realizes he is being spied on. Suddenly, he is more exposed than the naked models he looks at.

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