Chapter  4 : Metaphysics


(NOTE:  You must read only those linked materials that are preceded by the capitalized word READ.)  

Existentialism, a philosophical movement or tendency, emphasizing individual existence, freedom, and choice that influenced many diverse writers in the 19th and 20th centuries 

VIDEO:  Introduction to Existentialism

The existentialists separated from the debate between the materialists and the idealists.  Instead they focused on what humans could know for certain.  We know that we exist and that we are aware of that existence.  We are aware that there are things that exist that do not appear to be aware and do not have freedom.  So there are those things that have that awareness and those that do not.

As the existentialist,Jean-Paul Sartre, categorized real things in two varieties only:

  • BEING-FOR –ITSELF is conscious and free

  • BEING-IN-ITSELF is non-conscious.

So for the existentialists there are two types of real things, two types of things that exist: BEING-FOR –ITSELF and BEING-IN-ITSELF.

There is no proof of souls or spirits or ghosts or deities and thus their existence is nothing other than what people make a decision to believe.  People decide whether or not to believe that such entities are real or not and they decide on the criteria for making such decisions.  What is given immediately to consciousness is consciousness and through it the awareness of what is not conscious and not free.

Some existentialists hold that such beliefs are and must be beyond reason so that humans must make a leap of faith into the beliefs of the reality of such nonphysical entities.  For certain what humans can know is their own existence and the existence of things not like humans because they have no consciousness and are not free.

READ at least "Concepts" from  

READ at least  Existence Precedes Essence”

More on Existentialism and Jean Paul Sartre 

READ : Dallas Roark  On Existentialism 

William Barrett on Existentialism  Pt 1   Pt 2  Pt 3

See a later Chapter on Freedom and Determinism for more material on existentialist views of freedom.

Proceed to the next section.

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Introduction to Philosophy by Philip A. Pecorino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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