13: Existentialism



Key Terms

Bad Faith

  • Read and analyze descriptions of philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the arguments in favor of and opposing contemporary ethical theories.
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss and reflect upon the application of the course material to various aspects of life.
  • Evaluate the personal and social responsibilities of living in a diverse world.

I. Existentialism

  • A. Basic Argument
    • Concern is personal and individualized
    • Not who is a virtuous person? Not what is my moral duty? Not how should I apply the principle of utility?
    • But How do I live my life authentically? How can I be significant? How can my life have meaning?
  • B. Key Concepts
    • Individualism and subjectivity
    • Freedom and responsibility
    • Existence and essence
    • Anguish and absurdity
    • Authenticity

II. Kierkegaard

  • The Crowd is Untruth
  • Truth and authenticity are the highest pursuits
  • A. The Evils of Conformity
    • The greatest threat to this is conformity with the crowd
    • Conformity to the crowd is inauthentic and immoral
  • B. The Three Stages to becoming an authentic individual
    • Aesthetic Stage - hedonistic, ultimately dissatisfying
    • Ethical Stage - concerned with morality, ultimately dissatisfying
    • Religious Stage - relationship between individual and divine


Are you Authentic?
8-bit Philosophy

III. Nietzsche

  • Life is governed by a Will to Power
  • Traditional values of compassion and pity are part of a slave morality designed to suppress the powerful
  • The Übermensch sees through this falseness, creates his own values and imposes them upon others
  • Jesus is the supreme example of the übermensch
  • Modern thinking has removed our need of God - “God is dead.”
  • Thus, the übermensch is necessary to lead humanity in His absence

IV. Heidegger

  • Wrote Being and Time, exploring the nature of being
  • Phenomenology, describing the data of consciousness without the distortions of preconceived ideas
  • Profoundly complex
  • Fundamental elements of Dasein: thrownness, projection, fallenness


When we say that man chooses his own self, we mean that every one of us does likewise; but we also mean by that in making this choice he also chooses all men. In fact, in creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single one of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be


Do we enjoy being free? 
8-bit Philosophy

V. Sartre

  • Becoming an authentic individual is the ethical ideal we pursue
  • We depend only on ourselves to determine right choices
  • No absolute ethical code, no divine rule
  • Accepting one’s responsibility for ultimate choice means one understands it takes place in a social context
  • Acknowledges the moral responsibility to humanity
  • Choosing to live a certain way implies consent for others to do the same
  • Ethics are not our obligation to follow, but our obligation to create
  • Acting in Bad Faith
    • Not everyone desires this responsibility
    • Those that hide from their freedom and responsibility are living inauthentically and act in Bad Faith
    • They try to surrender their freedom to outside forces
    • Lack courage to create themselves

VI. Camus

  • We live an absurd existence in a universe devoid of intrinsic meaning
  • Our choices are without purpose
  • Our highest goal is to create meaning for our lives
  • We do this through critical reflection and courageously free choices
  • The Myth of Sisyphus illustrates this

Logic Week 13: Appeals to Emotion