existentialism
A loose title for various philosophies that emphasize certain common themes: the individual, the experience of choice, and the absence of rational understanding of the universe with a consequent dread or sense of absurdity in human life. The combination suggests an emotional tone or mood rather than a set of deductively related theses, and existentialism attained its zenith in Europe following the disenchantments of the Second World War. However, the first significant thinker to stress such themes was Kierkegaard, whose work is generally regarded as the origin of existentialism. Existentialist writing both reacts against the view that the universe is a closed, coherent, intelligible system, and finds the resulting contingency a cause for lamentation. In the face of an indifferent universe we are thrown back upon our own freedom. Acting authentically becomes acting in the light of the open space of possibilities that the world allows. Different writers who united in stressing the importance of these themes nevertheless developed very different ethical and metaphysical systems as a consequence. In Heidegger existentialism turns into scholastic ontology ; in Sartre into a dramatic exploration of moments of choice and stress; in the theologians Barth, Tillich, and Bultmann it becomes a device for reinventing the relationships between people and God. Existentialism never took firm root outside continental Europe, and many philosophers have voiced mistrust of particular existentialist concerns, for example with being and non-being, or with the libertarian flavour of its analysis of free will.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • EXISTENTIALISM — EXISTENTIALISM, a modern philosophical movement, which intends to elucidate concrete human existence. To the movement belong such people as S. Kierkegaard, A. Schopenhauer, M. Heidegger, J. P. Sartre, G. Marcel, M. Buber, F. Rosenzweig, and J.B.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • existenţialism — EXISTENŢIALÍSM s.n. Doctrină filozofică conform căreia reală este numai existenţa umană, trăirea afectivă a existenţei de către individ. [pr.: eg zis ten ţi a ] – Din fr. existentialisme, germ. Existentialismus. Trimis de claudia, 13.09.2007.… …   Dicționar Român

  • existentialism — ex is*ten tial*ism, n. (Philosophy) a philosophical theory or attitude having various interpretations, generally emphasising the existence of the individual as a unique agent with free will and responsibility for his or her own acts, though… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • existentialism — 1941, from Ger. Existentialismus (1919), replacing Existentialforhold (1849), ultimately from Danish writer Sèren Kierkegaard (1813 1855), who wrote (1846) of Existents Forhold condition of existence, existentielle Pathos, etc. (see EXISTENTIAL… …   Etymology dictionary

  • existentialism — ► NOUN ▪ a philosophical theory which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent. DERIVATIVES existentialist noun & adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • existentialism — [eg΄zis ten′shəliz΄əm, eks΄is ten′shəliz΄əm, eg΄zis ten′chəliz΄əm, eks′is ten′chəliz΄əm] n. [Fr existentialisme < existenciel] a philosophical and literary movement, variously religious and atheistic, stemming from Kierkegaard and represented… …   English World dictionary

  • Existentialism — The …   Wikipedia

  • existentialism — existentialist, adj., n. existentialistic, adj. existentialistically, adv. /eg zi sten sheuh liz euhm, ek si /, n. Philos. a philosophical attitude associated esp. with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, and opposed to rationalism and… …   Universalium

  • existentialism —    A diverse philosophical movement, existentialism is characterised by a stress on the individual, freedom of choice and, in many cases, the absurdity of the universe. Kierkegaard is usually thought of as the first existentialist; he led a… …   Christian Philosophy

  • existentialism — noun a) A twentieth century philosophical movement emphasizing the uniqueness of each human existence in freely making its self defining choices, with foundations in the thought of Søren Kierkegaard (1813 55) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 1900)… …   Wiktionary

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