What is existentialism? A Philosophical Definition
Existentialism presents itself primarily as a way of philosophizing. The philosophy is chiefly aimed at exposing the man himself. But there are two types of philosophies:
– Those who attempt to uncover the general structure of existence, through the study of concepts such as God, the being or the world. They take man as the closing point of a system (downward movement)
– Those who leave the subjectivity to understand other concepts such as God, the being or the world (moving up)
Existentialism belongs to the second category. Existentialism seeks in effect to solve the enigma that is man for himself.
For Kierkegaard, who is the father of existentialism, the reality of man can be understood through a philosophical system, which is a convenient way to get by. Indeed, a system contains all the answers in advance as possible to all possible questions. Systemising existence, as did Hegel, for example, means that there is some. However, the existence is uncertain. We must therefore use category, and not system to understand the human condition.
Kierkegaard defines the human condition as a life struggle with the pathetic violent freedom. Being a man is feeling tragically gripped by a scary “possibility of” no one can take responsibility for my actions. This anxiety generates a vertigo, that of freedom assumed wrong.
The existentialism of Heidegger
What is existentialism of Heidegger? The latter considers that only the man as being, can have a intellience of Being. The peculiarity of man is to think that Being. Therefore man is a Dasein, a being-there, Being close to his listener. The exsitence, Heidegger is simply the man himself emerges as the night with him something like a state of mind towards being in general.