In a world in which lives are shaped by irreversible choices and by random events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance. Life in this designless universe raises questions of identity and can cause turmoil between the relationships of the self to others, the self to history, and the self to God. Through the words of existentialist novelists and philosophers Milan Kundera and Jean-Paul Sartre, we witness the philosophical and psychological struggles for identity, existence, and ‘being’ of the characters in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Nausea. In connection with other philosophic writings of Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Tillich and Sartre the ideas of existentialism expressed in these two novels become more apparent, and the relationships of the characters in this world-without-God can be explored.
Our principle readings rested in the argument of man’s existence and being. Sartre’s Nausea and Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being both depicted the stories of humans struggling to accept their own realities in a state of what Heidegger referred to as “thrown-ness”. Heidegger’s existential thoughts are concerned with the question of the meaning of Being. Heidegger based his philosophy upon the science of existence. The scientific method was that of phenomenological reduction. Although Søren Kierkegaard accepted the paradox of being defining itself, as a scientist, Heidegger could not accept this paradox. According to Heidegger, a concept must be defined without using itself as reference. The difficulty of definition was confronted by defining Being as a collection of concepts. In his essay “The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics”...
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...r own histories, their struggles with purpose and meaning, and the plight of their thrownness create a compelling and emotionally engaging novel that resemble the insecurities and consciousness of our own lives. Heidegger states that time only reminds men of how insignificant they are, how endless the universe is, and how all they can really do is seek to accept themselves on their own terms in anticipation of death, to wonder at the meaning of it all. Kierkegaard and Miller address the loathing of the impasse that threatens their lives as a result of historicism (and the absence of God). And Nietzsche claims that we must use history to escape animal-ness, but not so far as to become further imprisoned within our consciousness. Throughout history, and in each man’s life, there is return: to the center, to the same errors, and to that danger and fear of nothingness.
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