Existentialism -vs- The "Existentialists"

c0de

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NOTE: The following post was originally intended as a response in
this thread: http://www.interfaith.org/forum/book-continental-philosophy-11830-2.html#post211696



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Before everyone starts discussing "continental" philosophy, please take a moment to put all of this in proper context and right the wrongs that "continental" philosophy has been inflicting on mind of man for generations.

Preceding many of these characters that are being discussed here, there was someone called Mulla Sadra, (1571–1636) and without understanding the works of this man, and the revolution he brought in metaphysics, any talk of "continental philosophy" should be meaningless.

The reason why Mulla Sadra must be discussed here, is because he is the actual founder of Existentialism, and all the "continental" versions of this idea are basically corruptions of his original idea/purpose. Europeans, (like Sartre) took the idea, and completely reverse-engineered to suit their own atheistic models. But this game began well before Sartre (who arrived on the scene when all was said and done anyway).

The most important point here is that the continental version of
Existentialism, is FUNDAMENTALLY flawed at the most basic level.


The foundation of existentialism ("existence precedes essence") was formalized by Mullah Sadra for a specific purpose. The reason for this was to overturn the ancient Aristotelian notion ("essence precedes existence") on its head, and kill it once and for all. The reason why he had to do this was because this concept had been infecting the Muslim philosophies (through Avicenna) who tried to corrupt Islamic thinking with Greek philosophies (the Greeks, the original "continentals"). The true giant of ancient continental philosophy, (i think) was Socrates, NOT Aristotle but lets leave that alone for now.

Getting back to the point:- The reason why the continental version of existentialism lacks merit is because of its incompleteness. Consider its core assertion:- that human beings have no essence before their existence because, there is no Creator, no God. There are two major problems here. #1, it presupposes that if there is a God that human beings would have an essence before their creation. And #2 that it takes for granted that human beings have an "essence" in any absolute sense, once they come into existence. Both assumptions are ultimately false, but what is most important is the second. Because it begs the question: How the hell can a human being have an "essence/existence" (in any absolute sense) if his/her existence did NOT come about independently?

The core difference between Islamic existentialism, and continental versions is that when you ask the same question to someone like Mullah Sadra, he can always appeal to transcendentalism (by saying that at least God has his an absolute essence and an existence). But the continental "existentialist" can not say that. He has nothing! European "existentialism" is therefore incomplete because in the ultimate conclusion of their version:- nothing has any "existence" in any absolute sense, because everything owes its existence/essence to something else, but since there is no God in continental existentialism, it ultimately has nothing to fall back on, and logically has to be regarded as an incomplete and defective thought.


Ok... Now, moving on to the actual philosophers.
Allow me to combine exerpts from Snoop's posts
together with Native's words:

CP begins with the publication of Kant’s critical philosophy in the 1780’s. It led on to key movements and thinkers such as German idealism and romanticism (Hegel, Schopenhauer), Nietzsche, Germanophone phenomenology and existentialism (Husserl, Heidegger), Hegelianism, Hermeneutics, Western Marxism, structuralism, post-modernism and feminism…

---


Sartre apparently misinterpreted heidegger and put his own spin on it and so ended up with a dualist philosophy which heidegger was completely against [as well as anything metaphysical/idealist al la his own german philosophical past dominated by hegel, which kierk. also railed against]. The main thrust of heideggar was to do away with the concept of substance [aristotle's terms] for human beings, yes their body was substance but their actual being, or essence, was existence only.

---

Apparently behind all the existentialists, according to Bert Dreyfuss, is the Frenchman Pascal who said 'custom is our nature', and so no 'right' way to be, no inherent nature, but one we build up through facticity of where we are at 'in the world' and how we envisage it, by doing, by activity Heidegger really big on this as the only defining characteristic of Dasein, we take over ourselves and define ourselves through activity and interaction with the other modes in a totally holistic way].

----

The outcome of the criticism of Kant’s philosophy was a greater questioning of faith in reason. The Kantian dualism between understanding and sensibility required a unifying principle. For Hegel it was Spirit, for Schopenhauer it was the Will, for Nietzsche - Power, Marx - Praxis, for Heidegger – Being…

Okay, so, the key names mentioned here:

-Pascal
-Kant
-Hegel
-Kierkegaard
-Heidegger
-Nietszshe
-Marx



The first thing which must be done when discussing continental philosophy is to draw a clear line between the existentialists and idealists. NOTE: I am going to be the original definition of existentialism for this exercise. As for defining idealism: Any philosophy which defines reality through human experience (i.e. human perception) is essentially idealistic.

As you can clearly see, according to this definition, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Marx, Sartre etc. are not actually existentialists at all, but idealists. Hegel is a special case. Personally, I agree with Kierkegaard who basically just dismisses Hegel as a confused character.

Another special case is the subjective-idealism of those like George Berkley, and Al-Ghazali in Islamic philosophy who came before
. This is different from the pure idealism of the ones mentioned above. I will come back to this in the end of my post, specifically referring to one of the excerpts posted by Snoop from his book.

Back to the point:- before all of these idealists, came men like Kant, Kierkegaard & Pascal. These, ironically, can still be called "existentialists" (even though they never used such a word themselves) because they believed in an absolute/transcendent reality, independent of man's perception of it. Therefore, their existentialism is real, while those like Sartre and Nietzsche are actually idealists whose idealism is defeated by the very existentialism they have failed to grasp.





@ Snoop

Excellent thread bud :)

Keep them excerpts coming. Like this one:

The outcome of the criticism of Kant’s philosophy was a greater questioning of faith in reason. The Kantian dualism between understanding and sensibility required a unifying principle. For Hegel it was Spirit, for Schopenhauer it was the Will, for Nietzsch

I will add that Kant was torn apart by his discovery of empiricism. Everything he did, was in response to David Hume. And it is interesting here to note that Hume is grouped together with those like Locke and Berkley. (The same Berkley I told you about in the other thread).

It can even be argued that Newton and that Liebniz set the ball rolling with their debates on the nature of the physical world and God's method of governing it. Then George Berkley came along and destroyed the philosophic foundations of both Newton and Liebniz's much celebrated Calculus, and with it, basically all of mathematics with his: The Analyst A Discourse Addressed To An Infidel Mathematician.* Mathematics as a discipline never recovered from this attack. Most people are completely unaware of this. All of this is related to many of my posts in previous discussions concerning how people think they know how reliable science/physics/mathematics is.


* Amazon.com: The Analyst A Discourse Addressed To An Infidel Mathematician (9781419152177): George Berkeley: Books
 
NOTE: The following post was originally intended as a response in
this thread: http://www.interfaith.org/forum/book-continental-philosophy-11830-2.html#post211696
Before everyone starts discussing "continental" philosophy,

Hey don't get killing my thread off, it's absolutely buzzing :rolleyes:


@ c0de

Excellent thread bud :)

It's like mine, only you know what you're talking about.

I haven't the time to give this meaty OP my considered shallow response so I shall come back to it when I am able and pick it up with you. :)

(probably when it's on about Page 9 :eek:)

s.
 
European "existentialism" is therefore incomplete because in the ultimate conclusion of their version:- nothing has any "existence" in any absolute sense, because everything owes its existence/essence to something else, but since there is no God in continental existentialism, it ultimately has nothing to fall back on, and logically has to be regarded as an incomplete and defective thought.

http://www.amazon.com/Analyst-Disco...UTF8&coliid=ISB03JHUQ6B1X&colid=3G97IMBIHW51K

Well that is as you describe it, but the falsity is a stupid one, and not at all as I have understood things. I fear you are incapable of being able to get past the god concept thingy and that is really what you are saying. I dont think you are representing existentialism at all, just trying, as ever, to claim it for Islam. Along with everything else.

Good post though...and happy to see you around :)
 
but the falsity is a stupid one, and not at all as I have understood things.

thanks for the sophisticated rebuttal there Tao... :rolleyes: much obliged

well, at least this time there is no pretense of your infamous "objectivity".
I consider that progress - good 4 u buddy : )

I dont think you are representing existentialism at all, just trying, as ever, to claim it for Islam.
(lol)

Challenging historical facts again are we? I still remember how you refused to believe
the scientific method was developed by a Muslim. (now that, was klassic!)

Good post though...and happy to see you around :)
hey, u called, i answered. :)
 
Interesting OP.

To be fair, Mulla Sadra was primarily a theosophist. Western existentialists were, for the most part, not similarly theologically or metaphysically predisposed. For example, the philosophy of Heidegger or Hegel isn't designed to conclude neatly into an eschatology. This limits the comparison.

Here's a good link to information on Sadra:Mulla Sadra (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chris
 
It can even be argued that Newton and that Liebniz set the ball rolling with their debates on the nature of the physical world and God's method of governing it. Then George Berkley came along and destroyed the philosophic foundations of both Newton and Liebniz's much celebrated Calculus, and with it, basically all of mathematics with his: The Analyst A Discourse Addressed To An Infidel Mathematician.* Mathematics as a discipline never recovered from this attack. Most people are completely unaware of this. All of this is related to many of my posts in previous discussions concerning how people think they know how reliable science/physics/mathematics is.


* Amazon.com: The Analyst A Discourse Addressed To An Infidel Mathematician (9781419152177): George Berkeley: Books

The objections were very technical and there was never really any doubt about the importance and value of calculus once it was invented.

I still remember how you refused to believe
the scientific method was developed by a Muslim. (now that, was klassic!)

Ibn al-Haytham (965-1039) has been cited as the one of the earliest developers of the scientific method.

There are many great Muslim scientists and engineers today. I think there would be even more if the Middle Eastern countries were freer.
 
Getting back to the point:- The reason why the continental version of existentialism lacks merit is because of its incompleteness. Consider its core assertion:- that human beings have no essence before their existence because, there is no Creator, no God. There are two major problems here. #1, it presupposes that if there is a God that human beings would have an essence before their creation. And #2 that it takes for granted that human beings have an "essence" in any absolute sense, once they come into existence. Both assumptions are ultimately false, but what is most important is the second. Because it begs the question: How the hell can a human being have an "essence/existence" (in any absolute sense) if his/her existence did NOT come about independently?

l don't think Heideggar was concerned with these questions, only with the phenomenological enquiry into the nature of the way of being of humans, who are not fixed in their behaviour, as say, like a tree or a fish, but who have the capacity to choose one way or another. l thought Kierkegaard was the first to call himself an existentialist? Did these guys know Sadra's works?

The core difference between Islamic existentialism, and continental versions is that when you ask the same question to someone like Mullah Sadra, he can always appeal to transcendentalism (by saying that at least God has his an absolute essence and an existence). But the continental "existentialist" can not say that. He has nothing! European "existentialism" is therefore incomplete because in the ultimate conclusion of their version:- nothing has any "existence" in any absolute sense, because everything owes its existence/essence to something else, but since there is no God in continental existentialism, it ultimately has nothing to fall back on, and logically has to be regarded as an incomplete and defective thought.

l think it was only Sartre, Nietzche and Heideggar who were athiests [though Heideggar did initially study theology]. lt was not a matter of 'falling back on' but an investigation into human existence post theology, post science, post technology paradigms/crustations not, presumably pace Sadra, incorporating an accepted belief system. But yes it did engender nihilism which some consider a form of freedom from any disputed 'truth'.

The first thing which must be done when discussing continental philosophy is to draw a clear line between the existentialists and idealists. NOTE: I am going to be the original definition of existentialism for this exercise. As for defining idealism: Any philosophy which defines reality through human experience (i.e. human perception) is essentially idealistic.

Great l always knew l was an idealist rather than a realist!

Back to the point:- before all of these idealists, came men like Kant, Kierkegaard & Pascal. These, ironically, can still be called "existentialists" (even though they never used such a word themselves) because they believed in an absolute/transcendent reality, independent of man's perception of it. Therefore, their existentialism is real, while those like Sartre and Nietzsche are actually idealists whose idealism is defeated by the very existentialism they have failed to grasp.

l hope you can elaborate this further but these latter guys certainly were trying to deconstruct any notion of transcendent egos, souls etc and are the consequence and product of the naturalism and rationalism prevalent at the time.




@ Snoop

Excellent thread bud :)

Keep them excerpts coming.

Touche, but C0de now you've split this into two!; can't we combine them?
 
.


China Cat + Avi + Native






@ China Cat

I understand your point Chris, but the problem is that the idea (the core of the existentialist principle: "existence before essence") can only work from a metaphysical point of view.




@ Avi

I did not say that the value of calculus was ever in question, I said the philosophical foundations of it were destroyed. But as you are probably aware, even in functional terms calculus is still incapable of solving the "3 body problem". This is not a problem with calculus, but mathematics itself and the inherent irrationality thereof. So in functional terms, for example, we will never be able to predict the weather because of this. No matter how fast our supercomputers get, we will never be able to "solve" such problems because calculus can never make sense of "chaos".






@ Native

l don't think Heideggar was concerned with these questions, only with the phenomenological enquiry into the nature of the way of being of humans, who are not fixed in their behaviour, as say, like a tree or a fish, but who have the capacity to choose one way or another.
Okay, first of all, lets remember that Hiedegger's concepts like Dasein are basically adopted from Zen Buddhism, specifically the Book of Tea by Oakara Kakuzo, in which he named it "das-in-dem-Welt-sein". Hiedegger never even developed this concept himself, let alone arrived at it through any systematic study of the nature of reality.

Secondly, as for Hiedeggar's version phenomenology itself, it just doesn't work. He and those like Sartre tried to fix Husserl's original conception of it, but they did not succeed. The initial problem which I cited still there at the core, but there are other major criticisms used by those like Daniel Dennet. For example, if you reduce everything down to idealistic phenomenon, there is no "third person" reference point, and therefore the whole approach is basically unscientific. Therefore its claims are no different then the metaphysical approaches (which it's supporters are claim superiority over.)


l thought Kierkegaard was the first to call himself an existentialist? Did these guys know Sadra's works?
Kierkegaard never used the term. The term "existentialism" was first coined by Gabriel Marcel in the 1940s. And guess what? He was a Christian.


l think it was only Sartre, Nietzche and Heideggar who were athiests [though Heideggar did initially study theology]. lt was not a matter of 'falling back on' but an investigation into human existence post theology, post science, post technology paradigms/crustations not, presumably pace Sadra, incorporating an accepted belief system. But yes it did engender nihilism which some consider a form of freedom from any disputed 'truth'.
The only reason their thoughts became popular was because their ideas were appealing to the "spirit of the age", not because they had any merit. Compared with those like Kant, Kierkegaard, Mulla Sadra etc. people like nietzche, heidegger and sartre are less than a joke.



l hope you can elaborate this further but these latter guys certainly were trying to deconstruct any notion of transcendent egos, souls etc and are the consequence and product of the naturalism and rationalism prevalent at the time.
But they were never able to overcome the arguments of those like Kant who exposed pure rationalism (without transcendentalism) for what it really is: a denial of the inherent blindness of man's defective perception.

Even though I am basically anti-philosophy, I respect Kant's "Transcendental idealism" for being a fine example of what philosophy can achieve, precisely because it recognizes (and admits) the inherent flaw of a self-negating rationality. These later "philosophers" are not even capable of this. That is their whole denial.

Touche, but C0de now you've split this into two!; can't we combine them?
I started this thread so that Snoop could post his exerpts without being interrupted. I basically consider his thread and mine the same, this is why there is a link to his thread in my first post. But if they should be combined, maybe a moderator could do it?
 
I started this thread so that Snoop could post his exerpts without being interrupted. I basically consider his thread and mine the same, this is why there is a link to his thread in my first post. But if they should be combined, maybe a moderator could do it?

Well it's OK with me either way. :)

s.
 

@Native

Okay, first of all, lets remember that Hiedegger's concepts like Dasein are basically adopted from Zen Buddhism, specifically the Book of Tea by Oakara Kakuzo, in which he named it "das-in-dem-Welt-sein". Hiedegger never even developed this concept himself, let alone arrived at it through any systematic study of the nature of reality.

Heidegger was silent about that just as he was silent about his nazi leanings; in actual fact the 'art of being' was probably more taoist which preceded zen and as this book was 20th century it is more likely that Heidegger got the concept of dasein closer to hand, for example von Goethe [1749-1832] who was influential in his aesthetic philosophy..here is an interesting article in its own right which mentions dasein as a quote on pg 170
Goethe, Husserl, and the crisis of the European sciences


Secondly, as for Hiedeggar's version phenomenology itself, it just doesn't work. He and those like Sartre tried to fix Husserl's original conception of it, but they did not succeed. The initial problem which I cited still there at the core, but there are other major criticisms used by those like Daniel Dennet. For example, if you reduce everything down to idealistic phenomenon, there is no "third person" reference point, and therefore the whole approach is basically unscientific. Therefore its claims are no different then the metaphysical approaches (which it's supporters are claim superiority over.)

Well he does say it is a provisional ontology, or rather pre-ontological rather than an ontic enquiry [what it means rather than what it is] and phenomenology is by definition a first person/subjective perspective but no less important for present day human sciences in which any embedded/embodied cognitive approach is attributed in large part to Heidegger's holistic discourse.
eg Reconstructing the cognitive world ... - Google Books


Kierkegaard never used the term. The term "existentialism" was first coined by Gabriel Marcel in the 1940s. And guess what? He was a Christian.

The only reason their thoughts became popular was because their ideas were appealing to the "spirit of the age", not because they had any merit. Compared with those like Kant, Kierkegaard, Mulla Sadra etc. people like nietzche, heidegger and sartre are less than a joke.

Terms are often assigned after the event. Theres a certainty that Heidegger for instance was influenced more by the likes of Dietrich of Frieberg [1193-1280] rather than Sadra; Heidegger lived and studied at Frieberg and in fact based most of his observations on the people of the black forest. Dietrich contra Aquinus did not distinquish between essence and existence.
Dietrich of Freiberg (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

There are always antecedents of great thoughts and of course all were theists previously in some form or another whereas existentialism is concerned primarily with the inter related phenomena [which we see as meaningful] between life and death, temporality and historicality, and the fact that we choose to actualise a range of possibilities. Of course whether we believe persons to be Freudian libido maximising machines, Kantian rational animals or having a divine soul will determine our whole outlook and worldview; our essence is not just defined by what we do but also what we dont do [hence the range of possibilities we see in the world and the castigation of 'folk' psychology as an universally applicable or reductive science].


But they were never able to overcome the arguments of those like Kant who exposed pure rationalism (without transcendentalism) for what it really is: a denial of the inherent blindness of man's defective perception.

Even though I am basically anti-philosophy, I respect Kant's "Transcendental idealism" for being a fine example of what philosophy can achieve, precisely because it recognizes (and admits) the inherent flaw of a self-negating rationality. These later "philosophers" are not even capable of this. That is their whole denial.

I started this thread so that Snoop could post his exerpts without being interrupted. I basically consider his thread and mine the same, this is why there is a link to his thread in my first post. But if they should be combined, maybe a moderator could do it?

l'm not really up on all these concepts, for instance transcendental has more than one meaning.. so l can understand why Heidegger necessarily invented terms that had nothing to do with the tradition [but ended up with his own 'hermeneutic circle']. Found a comic strip exposition of idealism v realism with regard to the external world on another forum but not sure if l can post it here?
 
Heidegger was silent about that just as he was silent about his nazi leanings; in actual fact the 'art of being' was probably more taoist which preceded zen and as this book was 20th century it is more likely that Heidegger got the concept of dasein closer to hand, for example von Goethe [1749-1832] who was influential in his aesthetic philosophy..here is an interesting article in its own right which mentions dasein as a quote on pg 170
Goethe, Husserl, and the crisis of the European sciences

Schiller probably had an influence as well, I suspect.

Well he does say it is a provisional ontology, or rather pre-ontological rather than an ontic enquiry [what it means rather than what it is] and phenomenology is by definition a first person/subjective perspective but no less important for present day human sciences in which any embedded/embodied cognitive approach is attributed in large part to Heidegger's holistic discourse.
eg Reconstructing the cognitive world ... - Google Books
Maybe thats why we havent reached any firm conclusions on the nature of consciousness.

Terms are often assigned after the event. Theres a certainty that Heidegger for instance was influenced more by the likes of Dietrich of Frieberg [1193-1280] rather than Sadra;
Well, I never said he was influenced by Sadra. The key influences on continental philosophy occured well before he came on the scene.


Of course whether we believe persons to be Freudian libido maximizing machines, Kantian rational animals or having a divine soul will determine our whole outlook and worldview;

maybe "we" is not made up of "you" and "me" but just is...



l'm not really up on all these concepts, for instance transcendental has more than one meaning.. so l can understand why Heidegger necessarily invented terms that had nothing to do with the tradition [but ended up with his own 'hermeneutic circle'].
Kant uses the term to refer to anything outside the grasp of human experience/perception.

Found a comic strip exposition of idealism v realism with regard to the external world on another forum but not sure if l can post it here?
go 4 it :)
 
.
Okay, first of all, lets remember that Hiedegger's concepts like Dasein are basically adopted from Zen Buddhism, specifically the Book of Tea by Oakara Kakuzo, in which he named it "das-in-dem-Welt-sein".

I haven't read Book of Tea (maybe DrumR has, our resident tea expert ;)) but (based on not having read it :rolleyes:) I'm not sure it's exactly a foundational text of Zen Buddhism. I'm sure there's more appropriate books to recommend. If Dasein is "Being Time" then perhaps Heidegger would have been better studying the (difficult to understand; simultaneously easy to completely misinterpret) works of Dogen as he dealt a great deal with the concept of Being-Time.

s.
 
Does it have to be either / or ?

Does it have to be v ?

s.

no that was just how l bookmarked it..subjectivity/objectivity to me are both real just as both reason and intuition are both necessary for understanding..the world we live in is absolutely relative!
 
no that was just how l bookmarked it..subjectivity/objectivity to me are both real just as both reason and intuition are both necessary for understanding..the world we live in is absolutely relative!

I like your stylee.

s.
 
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