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I just need help understanding

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  • the_dirt_of_luck
    Hey everyone, I m 16, and i just joined. My teacher was talking about existentialism a few weeks back. I and a friend of mine have been reading into it
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 15, 2002
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      Hey everyone, I'm 16, and i just joined. My teacher was talking
      about existentialism a few weeks back. I and a friend of mine have
      been reading into it (Nietzche,Kant, and Barret) and I know I'm still
      confused. I was just wondering if anyone could help me understand it
      a little bit better.
      Russell
    • ralphmctavish
      ... still ... it ... Sartre s succinct aphorism Existence precedes Essence I believe is central to the concept of existentialism. What he means by this (and
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 26, 2002
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        --- In theexistentialsociety@y..., "the_dirt_of_luck"
        <thedirtofluck@a...> wrote:
        > Hey everyone, I'm 16, and i just joined. My teacher was talking
        > about existentialism a few weeks back. I and a friend of mine have
        > been reading into it (Nietzche,Kant, and Barret) and I know I'm
        still
        > confused. I was just wondering if anyone could help me understand
        it
        > a little bit better.
        > Russell


        Sartre's succinct aphorism "Existence precedes Essence" I believe is
        central to the concept of existentialism. What he means by this (and
        believes that all so-called existentialists share an adherence to
        this concept) is that Man's existence comes before his nature or if
        you will, his intrinsic function or definition. Sartre uses the
        example of a knife (he terms it a `being in itself') the essence of
        which precedes its existence, in that the concept or purpose of the
        knife comes before its manufacture or existence. Man, Sartre
        believes, has no real `human nature' but developes something akin to
        this through his ongoing existence. The upshot of all this is that
        values including morality are relative as opposed to absolute.

        Sartre is insisting on the importance of existence being prior to
        essence which revolves around the concept of meaning in one's life.
        Many religious people take it as obvious that their lives are
        purposeful, that they were created by a God who had a prior concept
        of them (their essence was primary). These people would say
        that `essence precedes existence' their purpose (not their own petty
        accrued mundane purpose) but their real purpose in the grander scheme
        of things, was primary. Their lives have for them an ultimate meaning
        pre-existing them; they come into the world with a `human nature'.
        Sartre has no problem with individuals developing through their
        existence a human nature or essence, he just doesn't accept that they
        are givens (they are part of our free choice) for him man is the
        measure of all things in this sense. All values to Sartre are
        effectively arbitrary, we cannot not choose, yet our choices have no
        solid foundation, in a nutshell, `all existence is contingent'.
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