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Are We Existentialists? Some definitions...

Recently I looked into the philosophy of Existentialism and it made me wonder if it could apply to many of us in the Ron Paul movement.

From a religious standpoint I'm a Christian (raised Catholic) but I very seldom attend church anymore.

But from a philosophical viewpoint, the definitions (below) of Existentialism make sense to me.

Although I've also read that there never has been full agreement on exactly how to define it.

Has anyone studied this philosophy? If so, what are your opinions of how it might apply to Libertarian thinkers?
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Existentialism - A 20th-century philosophical movement chiefly in Europe; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves.
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A philosophical movement, esp. of the 20th century, that stresses the individual's position as a self-determining agent responsible for his or her own choices.
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A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
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A modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe
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1. The doctrine that man forms his essence in the course of the life resulting from his personal choices.

2. An emphasis upon man’s creating his own nature as well as the importance of personal freedom, decision, and commitment




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About Existentialism

I prefer the term 'Existential Philosophy', 'Existential Phenomenology' or 'Philosophy of Existence', to the term 'Existentialism'.

Of course the term existentialism is most commonly connected to Jean-Paul Sartre as he coined the term existentialism as famous "-ism". But existential philosophy is not "-ism". Sartre's existentialism is his interpretation of Edmund Husserl's Phenomenological Philosophy and Martin Heidegger's Phenomenological Philosophy.

Sartre is not at all the most interesting of existential thinkers. Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Gabriel Marcel, etc. are more interesting thinkers in the tradition of existential philosophy or existential phenomenology.

In the most basic insight of existential philosophy is that we have to begin to wonder again the mystery of existence, and in order to do so we have to place in abeyance all normal and traditional explanations of what does it mean to BE. In other words, we need to "put out of play" these ready-made explanations (scientific, religious, psychological, moral, spiritual, economic, political, etc.) and start from the beginning. This method of existential philosophy is actually a method of freedom in a sense that it frees, or liberates, us from ready-made explanations of the world. This would mean that we have to start thinking from our own experience, instead of from what we have learned to believe. As one of the greatest existential thinkers Merleau-Ponty said in his book Phenomenology of Perception: philosopher "accepts nothing as established from what men or scientists believe they know."

Definitely existential thinking can be applied to supporters of Ron Paul or to the Liberty Movement.

But the whole question of existence in connection to the Liberty is very multidimensional and it would need a lot of time to open this question.

I can say that, for example, in myself the ideas of liberty and the ideas of existential philosophy go hand in hand. Also existential philosophy is a philosophy of freedom and I would say that it goes even deeper into the question of freedom as it asks the conditions which make it possible that human existence is free.

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

Thanks Telepathic for the explanation.

I agree it is not an -ism as much as a philosophy.

But it seem like a decent philosophy to subscribe to.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

If interested of Levinas' thinking

then check out following books in comment of mine:
http://www.dailypaul.com/comment/3217309?bt=1#main a[href*='0820701785']

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

More about so called existential thinking....

True philosophy is never something one "subscribes" oneself to. Philosophy, or thinking, as they are pretty much synonymous in existential thought, is a task that one has to perform, or to accomplish. If one just "subscribes" to "a decent philosophy" one has completely missed the point of philosophizing, of thinking.

With the title of "existentialism" it is easy to start to see it like a political party and one just "subscribes" to it, or its thinkers because they supposingly are part of that party. But this is not the case at all. You wrote originally that "there never has been full agreement on exactly how to define it." Of course there hasn't, if there would have been there would not be any living philosophizing, but just some kind of Party of Existence/Existentialism. Philosophizing is, as Merleau-Ponty writes, perpetual "dialogue or infinite meditation, and, in so far it remains faithful to its intention, never knowing where it is going." True philosophers are always heretics to any party line, or school of thought.
I would say better that THINKING WITH the great philosophers like Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Levinas is well worth to improve ones own thinking, but not following some party line of existentialism. One finds these definitions of some form of thought as a party line from textbooks, dictionaries and Wikipedia, but even if they can be in some superficial way beneficial as an introduction to something, they always distort more than reveal. It is bit similar to say that Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are existentialists as to say that Ron Paul is republican.

Very good, but at the same time short article about existential philosophy would be Merleau-Ponty's short (11 p.) article "The Philosophy of Existence" which you can find from his book Texts and Dialogues:
http://www.amazon.com/Dialogues-Contemporary-Studies-Philoso...

Other than that if you want to understand, for example, Merleau-Ponty's thinking I suggest you to read compilation book of his different text titled Merleau-Ponty Reader:
http://www.amazon.com/Merleau-Ponty-Northwestern-University-...

And if you need some help in your reading of him, that is, in your thinking with him, thinking in dialogue with him, check following book by Lawrence Hass:
http://www.amazon.com/Merleau-Pontys-Philosophy-Studies-Cont...

Of course, Hass' book "Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy" is not any truth about his thinking, but it is a good introduction.

Well, I could go on and on, but stop here, at least, for now.....

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--