Basic Principles of Existentialism - LS 196, Spring 1992

The following is from a hand out I received in my LS 196 class (spring 1992)- "Great [F'ing] Ideas (GFI) in Western Culture." I'm not being crass. Even the professors referred to the class as "GFI." God bless Professor Crichlow, my GFI professor. She was one of the few kind people I knew at Clarkson.

I'm posting this, because I think I might be a bit of an existentialist... at least today..

Marvin Perry, et al., Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, 3rd ed., vol. 11, p. 755.

Basic Principles of Existentialism

  • Reality defies ultimate comprehension; there are no timeless thoughts that exist independently of and prior to the individual human being.

  • Reason alone is not an adequate guide to living; people are more than thinking subjects who approach the world through critical analysis. They are also feeling and willing beings who must participate fully in life, who must experience existence directly, actively, passionate. Only in this way does one live wholly and authentically.

  • Thought must not be merely abstract speculation, but must have a bearing on life; it must be translated into deeds.

  • Human nature is problematic and paradoxical, not fixed or constant; each person is like no other. Self-realization comes when one affirms one's own uniqueness; one becomes less than human when one permits one's life to be determined by a mental outlook -- a set of rules and values -- imposed by others.

  • We are alone. The universe if indifferent to our expectations and needs, and death is ever stalking us. [Accept and we rid ourselves of some fears..]

  • We are free. It is in the act of choosing freely from among different possibilities that the individual shapes an authentic existence. There is a dynamic quality to human existence; the individual has the potential to become more than he or she is.

  • Thelonious Monk - It's Monk's Time - Shuffle Boil (Take 5)