Existentialism Definition

Existentialism Definition - Sartrean existentialism, as...

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Existentialism Definition As found in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms Existentialism: A current in European philosophy distinguished by its emphasis on lived human existence. Although it had an important precursor in the Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard in the 1840s, its impact was fully felt only in the mid-20 th century in France and Germany; the German philosophers Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers prepared some of the ground in the 1920s and 1930s for the more influential work of Jean-Paul Sartre and the other French existentialists including Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Mauric Merleau-Ponty. In terms of its literary impact, the thought of Sartre has been the most significant, presented in novels (notably La Nausee (Nausea). 1938. and plays (including Les Mouches neant (Being and Nothingness), 1943.
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Unformatted text preview: Sartrean existentialism, as distinct from the Christian existentialism derived from Kierkegaard, is an atheist philosophy of human freedom conceived in terms of individual responsibility, or evade it by claiming obedience to some determining convention or duty, thus acting in ‘bad faith’. Paradoxically, we are ‘condemned to be free’. Similar themes can be found in the novels and essays of Camus; both authors felt that the absurdity of existence could be redeemed through the individual’s decision to become engage d (committed) within social and political causes opposing fascism and imperialism. Some of the concerns of French existentialism are echoed in English in Thom Gunn’s early collection of poems. The Sense of Movement (1957), and in the fiction of Iris Murdoch and John Fowles....
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This note was uploaded on 05/16/2011 for the course LIT 341 taught by Professor Lisle during the Fall '10 term at Grand Valley State.

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