To some, existentialism is a bleak philosophical worldview. To others, it’s the only sane solution to a seemingly insane world. Existentialism most visible originator is probably Søren Kierkegaard but its best known proponent is Jean-Paul Sartre.
Sartre put a lot of very basic ideas into catchy phrases and hence made a celebrity out of himself. And this exemplifies what existentialism is all about: The creation of meaning and purpose from a human world said to be meaningless and uprooted from nature.
According to Sartre, one creates meaning and purpose out of absurdity by choosing to make commitments to an ideal or movement deemed worthwhile.
Unlike animals supposedly bound by stimulus and response, Sartre says a “gap of nothingness” that lies between our present and past means that we are able to choose. Thus we’re “condemned to be free.”
Existentialism was in vogue in the late 1950′s and 1960′s among beatniks, hippies, journalists and academics. As David Bowie rather amusingly puts it in the song “Join the gang” (1967):
Let me introduce you to the gang
Johnny plays the sitar, he’s an existentialist
Once he had a name, now he plays our game
You won’t feel so good now that you’ve joined the gang
Sartre’s stardom in the halls of academia was generally succeeded by Karl Marx in the 1970s, by the postmoderns in the 1980s, and by the likes of Wittgenstein and Noam Chomsky in the 1990s. Other famous existentialists include Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86) and Albert Camus (1913-60).
- Sartre Quotes at Thinkexist.com
- Day 15,463. Existential Rabbits. (grousendale.wordpress.com)
- Existentialism (socyberty.com)
- RCMP eyed philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre during tense Quebec political upheaval (theglobeandmail.com)
- Shortcutting… Existentialism (shortcutting.wordpress.com)
- A review of Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ (tobagostars.wordpress.com)
- Canadian spies tracked philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre during Quebec political upheaval (news.nationalpost.com)
- Sartre’s Existentialism (egographia000.wordpress.com)
- Jean-Paul Sartre, the apostle of absurdity… (integratedcatholiclife.org)
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) was a Russian politician and Marxist revolutionary who believed that, once communism was fully in place, existing bureaucratic structures would slowly disappear—hence his oft-quoted belief in the “withering away of the state.”
From observable history, however, it seems that communism has never been achieved as Marx envisioned it. And most, if not all, of the countries that have attempted communism arguably have exhibited authoritarianism, corruption and stagnant mediocrity, this often enforced by vulgar militarism.
Today, some writers suggest that Marx was right in saying that Capitalism “carries the seeds of its own destruction” by pointing to things like WikiLeaks as apparent proof of that position.¹
¹ See for instance, “The Destructive Role of WikiLeaks-o-phobia in World Politics” by Hasan A. Yahya: http://www.articlesbase.com/philosophy-articles/the-destructive-role-of-wikileaks-o-phobia-in-world-politics-3823109.html#ixzz180ozByLo
- Lenin Lighting 2010: Videos & Photos (fremontuniverse.com)
- Russian vandals blow up Lenin statue (msnbc.msn.com)
- Russian Lenin statue damaged in attack (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Lenin’s Embalmers: preserving history with humour (theglobeandmail.com)
- The Great Communists of Our Times (socyberty.com)
- Leon Trotsky Militant Communist Revolutionary (socyberty.com)
- Economic Forcast : Taxation and Inflation Lenin (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- In Hungary, an Appetite for Socialist Memorabilia (online.wsj.com)
- Bolsheviks revolt in Russia: This Day in History – 11/6/1917 (jeffpruett.wordpress.com)
- A Brief Historical Analysis of Communism (socyberty.com)
According to this schema, the relations of production refers to the uniquely social aspects of production in a given society, usually the legal or brute force mechanisms of exploiting labor, extracting surplus and maintaining social dominance of the few over the many.
By way of contrast, the forces of production refer to the way a given society actually produces commodities.
- Revisiting Marx (essay in PDF)
Teleology (Gk: telos = end, purpose; logos = discourse)
This is the philosophical and theological idea that all of creation is directed toward and unfolds according to a meaningful and rational outcome.
In philosophy one of the most famous teleologies is that of G. W. F. Hegel, where a presumed World Spirit guides human history through successive resolutions of contradictions.
According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality—consciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society—leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts by lifting them up (Aufhebung) to a higher unity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegelian#Progress_through_contradictions_and_negations)
In social theory, Karl Marx is said to have ‘turned Hegelian theory on its head’ by creating a historical teleology devoid of spirituality that predicts the supposed inevitability of Communism.
Marx believed that human history went through definite socioeconomic stages:
- Primitive Communism
For Marx Capitalism inevitably passes into Communism.
In theology different teleologies have been devised. Some stress God as an omnicient and external ‘designer’ to creation while other say God is within the creation, learning and evolving as things progress through time.
On the Web:
» Determinism, Epicureanism, Fatalism, Free will, Providence, Soteriology, Theodicy
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