Existentialism : A Philosophical Idea Essay

Existentialism : A Philosophical Idea Essay

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Existentialism is a philosophical idea which would inform ideologies and struggles during the post-war period following World War II. In depth explanations of existentialism are given by Jean-Paul Sartre in “Existentialism is a Humanism,” and Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex.” Sartre counters the incorrect popular definitions to formalize a concrete concept. Beauvoir places an emphasis on gender, existentialism in correlation to women. Both authors and their ideology formulated essential principles to society. Before explaining its influence existentialism needs to be defined.
What is existentialism? In philosophical terms it is the belief “that existence comes before essence.” It “is a doctrine that does render human life possible; a doctrine, also, which affirms that every truth and every action imply both an environment and a human subjectivity.” Essentially this ideology is about being human, and how the choices one makes defines who they are. The term “human nature” is misleading because it does not exist, people simply exist without a shared tendency to behave in a certain manner. Conception occurs first, it is a pre-existing formula. A male and a female have sex, the biological process of fertilization creates a fetus, and thus a human is brought into existence. This existence takes place before essence, “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards.” Until man defines himself through his actions he is nothing, man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself, that is the first principle of existentialism.” That is subjectivity, which has two parts: “the freedom of the individual subject and, on the other, that man cannot
pass beyond human subjectivity.” The...


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...o enact it, that made them Nazis. Another instance would be the wave of feminism, which correlates to Beauvoir 's gendered version of existentialism. Her entire outlook on the topic derives from defining women, women who are responsible for creating their essence as women through action. The women of France for example had the Mouvement pour la libération des femmes. They were not the only ones, the women of England and Italy also attempted to define themselves through action rather than let the men do so.
Existentialism is about self defining oneself through actions, not just by existing which will end nowhere. The choices made in the context of a situation define a person, letting others dictate is not an excuse. Others are important because they acknowledge the essence of one another. This was part of society after the chaos that came with the post war years.

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