Felsefi Düşün Issue:12 – Existentialism / April 2019
Issue Editor: A. Kadir ÇÜÇEN (Uludağ Üniversitesi)
Please click on the name of any article for abstract and keywords.
Story of the Empty Grave: On Seducers and The Unhappiest One in Either /Or Abstract
As within the title itself, Søren Kierkegaard demonstrates many dichotomies throughout his pseudonymous work, Either/Or. The most discussed dichotomies are the aesthetic/ethical lives, recollection/repetition, the hoping/recollecting individuals and the reflective/immediate ways of seduction performed by Don Giovanni and Johannes. Against those opposite terms, The unhappiest one (Den Ulykkeligste) plays unifying and a central role in the book. In the first volume of the Either/Or, Aesthete describes the unhappiest individual as the one who suffers from the combination of the unhappiness of the hoping and recollecting individual. According to him, real unhappiness comes from feeling constantly being outside oneself. The unhappiest one cannot live primarily in his past or future. Neither can he live in the present. Thus, he lives fluctuating between these worlds. Although the aesthete’s account of the unhappiest man reminds us a Hegelian dialectic, the unhappiest man is not able to solve his conflicts in a positive rational unity but as an unfunctional negative disharmony. In this paper, I would like to examine the reasons for the real unhappiness in life and characteristic features of the unhappiest individual who described by the aesthete. I will also investigate who the unhappiest one possibly is with particular reference to Don Giovanni, Johannes, and the Aesthete.
Keywords: Aesthetic life, the unhappiest one, hope, recollection, the seducer.
Tragedy and Art as The Affirmation of Existence in Nietzsche
In this article, the main arguments of Friedrich Nietzsche on art, tragedy and the affirmation of the existence will be dealt with by emphasizing his ideas in his work The Birth of Tragedy. In this context, Nietzsche’s views on aesthetics and philosophy of art will be demonstrated in relation to existentialism. In this work, Nietzsche examines the Apollo – Dionysus controversy and how the art of tragedy emerged. He criticizes his time because of caring about the Apollonian more and neglecting the Dionysian or the emotions. For him, it is important to balance the two. Both the Apollonian and the Dionysian are necessary in the creation of art. Nietzsche sees Euripides as the murderer of art because by following Socrates he only focuses on knowledge and the individual and eliminates the elements that are crucial for Dionysian experience. Thus Euripides takes Dionysus away from tragedy, and he destroys the balance between Dionysus and Apollo. According to Nietzsche, art is the only force that can save us from anxiety of existence and this controversy, which is in life and in existence itself. His idea of loving life, saying yes to life and living creatively means affirming life, ourselves and our existence. Therefore Nietzsche sees the art as an answer to nihilism.
Keywords: Nietzsche, Apollo-Dionysus dichotomy, tragedy, existence, nihilism, affirmation, art.
On Kafka’s “Life is a Constant Sojourn” Anecdote
Kafka’s anecdote, “Life is a constant sojourn” refers to existence as a life span and stresses temporality. Philosophy of life advocates a practical understanding of everydayness throughout which we understand the goals we seek. This practical understanding is rather a temporal understanding that Heidegger calls ready to handness, Zuhandenheit. Temporal understanding is a way of understanding being, Seinverständnisse. Heidegger interprets being as ready to handness which reflects itself as such to the equipment we use. This reflection of being as such is not unconcealed for us in the daily sojourn of life. The reason why being is not open to us in our everyday life is our concern which is towards the limited temporal understandings of our dealings with our daily goals. In our understanding of ready to hand equipment for limited durations of daily goals, the unceasing and undivided wholeness of temporality, that is being as such, is concealed. On the one hand, this temporal understanding suggests a partition of the unceasing flow of original temporality. On the other hand, there lies a possibility of sensing the original which has which we ignore while partitioning it. In this paper, we shall discuss this possibility of experiencing the original temporality as openness from Heidegger’s temporal point of view. With respect to the concept of boredom, we will put forward that this original temporality is open for our understanding.
Keywords: Everyday life, time, ready to handness, horizon, openness, boredom.
Between ‘Existence’ and ‘Essence’: A Critical Study on Sartre’s Preface to The Wretched of The EarthAbstract
This work aims at a critical analysis of the preface written by Jean-Paul Sartre to the 1961 edition of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. An attempt will be made to trace the points of discrepancy between the thought of Sartre and the preface which will be analysed firstly, from the perspective of the proposed axioms regarding existentialism and secondly, regarding its political position. It could be concluded that the basic thesis of Sartre’s thought, “existence precedes essence”, in his attempt to comment on the independence struggle of Algeria returns to some kind of the essence of ‘Europeanness’. If we were to look for the reason of this paradox in Sartre’s thought, we shall inquire whether “the new humanism” aimed by Fanon is different than the ‘person’ implied in Sartre’s understanding of humanism. We will attempt to examine how the claim of Sartre’s humanism is tested in the situation where the existence of Europe (in Africa/ Algeria) is confronted with the existential struggle of natives deemed by it as ‘others’. Throughout this work, we will evaluate the problems of ‘existence’ and ‘essence’ as the manifestations of the positioning struggle inherent in the conflict between the ‘European’ and ‘native’ in the comparative readings of texts of Sartre and Fanon. We could assume that the incompatibility between the writings of two thinkers is connected to their relations to decolonisation struggles gaining speed after the World War II and the way they contemplate the results of these struggles.
Keywords: existence, essence, other, humanism, decolonisation.
The Analysis of Dasein’s Possibility of Being-A-Whole and The Problem of Being-Towards-Death in Heidegger
The question of Being has a privileged position compared to other questions in the field of ontology. This question is the source for Plato and Aristotle, that is, for the foundations of Western metaphysics. However, the answers to the question of being transformed into a kind of area of uncertainty rather than an area of genuine answers. Within this area of uncertainty, the being is positioned as something that cannot be defined and that is self-evident. Martin Heidegger begins to investigate the question again in his text of Being and Time (Sein und Zeit). In order to investigate the topic, it is necessary to understand Dasein who will make the investigation. However, it is not possible to understand Dasein, as the being-towards-death, in a totality. Dasein is always being towards the end and death. Therefore, in order to do fundamental ontology, an analysis of death is mandatory. With a research on death an analysis about being, human and time may be possible. That is why Heidegger, at the beginning of the second division of the text (§§ 45-53), presents the basic lines of the fundamental ontological analysis of death. Understanding this analysis of the question of death is one of the most critical points to comprehend both Being and Time and post-Heideggerian existentialism. The main purpose of this paper is to try to understand Heidegger’s analysis of death and to draw a path that will help with the following readings.
Keywords: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, Dasein, being-a-whole, death, being-towards-death.
Human Self-Overcoming in Nietzsche’s Philosophy as a Problem of Existence
The philosophy of Nietzsche offers an important perspective that contribute to discussions of today’s philosophy which increasingly involve the concepts of ‘becoming’, ‘body’, ‘nature’, ‘freedom’. Nietzsche’s philosophy that prioritizes human vitality and physiology, provides an important point of view for improving ontological and epistemological approaches against anthropocentrism. In addition, both Nietzsche’s philosophy and existential philosophy are linked to humanism which is transforming. From the point of connection between these approaches, the aim of this study is to reveal the effects of Nietzsche’s ‘becoming’ and ‘existence’ to the contemporary philosophical discussions. For this purpose, firstly the relation between existential philosophy of Sartre and humanism will be briefly mentioned; and, the concepts of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ will be focused in Nietzsche’s philosophy; then, it will be tried to evaluate “overcoming human” in regard to “will to power” and “eternal recurrence” through civilised characteristics and cultural patterns of “human who is a rope stretched between the animal and the overhuman.”
Keywords: Human, animal, nature, existence, humanism.
Philosophical Suicide or Transcendentizing Absurdity: Questioning Camus’ Criticism of Kierkegaard
The philosophy of existentialism is based on a common starting point that brings together philosophers of different interests and orientations. This point is the acceptance that philosophy is not just a concept study, but a study of existence itself. Even though it is a restrictive act to attribute an origin to a philosophical movement or tendency, the roots of existentialism philosophy are based on Søren Kierkegaard, who accepts existence as a truth. Kierkegaard’s existentialism, which is based on subjective truth, also reveals the general route of the philosophy of existentialism. Kierkegaard’s philosophical starting points such as anti-rationalism the concept of absurd, actualism, criticism of natural sciences, to bring psychological concepts such as distress, hopelessness, fear, anxiety to the philosophical context, understanding of freedom and determination of preference as the condition of subjectification constitute the basis of the philosophy of existentialism. However, Kierkegaard’s approach to these themes, which are his legacy to the philosophy of existentialism, has received harsh criticism by the existentialist philosophers for his emphasis on the religious sphere. Albert Camus considered his leap to faith as a philosophical suicide and interpreted this choice as the escape of a philosopher, who captured the absurd, into the safe realm of religion. The present study aims to examine whether Kierkegaard, who gave the main outlines to the philosophy of existentialism, adopted an escape in the context of Camus’ criticism. In accordance with this purpose, the study includes an examination of Kierkegaard’s understanding of subjective truth shaped with his refusal of Hegel and its theoretical and practical results, Kierkegaard’s capture of the absurd as a feeling and concept, and Camus’s criticism of Kierkegaard’s leap into the faith. The problematic determined for the study is important in terms of both understanding the role of religiosity in Kierkegaard’s philosophy, and analyzing whether the criticisms of Camus caused the uniformity of existentialism.
Keywords: Existentialism, absurd, faith, philosophical suicide, God, paradox.
Winer Sleep: An Interpretation in Terms of Existentialism
This article aims to interpret the movie of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Winter Sleep in terms of existentialism. Main characters in the movie are in a condition that Martin Heidegger describes as absence of burrow. This status of absence is based on the soul of technical or modern age. This new type of men who emerged with the modern world, since it’s absence of burrow, is devoid of a home that it can miss, head to or feel belonging to. Therefore, it stays without a destination. So, instead of moving, it sustains the condition it is in. That reminds Galileo’s Law of Inertia, one of the foundations of modern science. According to this law, motion, like stability, is sustained as it does not encounter with an obstacle. Likewise, people devoid of burrow are reluctant to change its condition. When all these is thought in terms of intentionality, base dinamics of Dasein of Heidegger, seems unrealistic, as Dasein is a being-in-the-world and Dasein is the being which can remove the distance by directing towards the sides and can self-substantiate with the relationships it establishes. But now, since it cannot bond a sincere relationship with anything, a complete absence of distance reigns. Here, discourse has a special importance. Discourse, which can be the openness of truth, turns to be idle talk if wandered away from authencity. Understanding each other becomes impossible. Here, Winter Sleep seems suitable to interpret in these respects.
Keywords: Galileo, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Heidegger, Dasein, existentialism.
Existentialist Cinema: On Relation Between Cinema of Ingmar Bergman and Existentialism
In this study, we aimed to describe the category of “Existentialist cinema” shortly and show that the cinema of Ingmar Bergman is the most profound example of it. While doing this, we tried to set forth the most prominent representatives like S. Kierkegaard, F. Nietzsche, J. P. Sartre, A. Camus and M. Heidegger with their fundamental ideas by drawing a general framework of Existentialism. As we objected from the very beginning of this study, we referred to most important ideas of researchers and thinkers who approached to Ingmar Bergman’s life, thoughts and ideas from the point of view of Existentialism. We discussed the problem of how cinema or film can be a subject of philosophy and tried to determine which qualities can a movie ‘philosophical’. After discussing the category of Existentialist cinema with its most significant characteristics we exposed the existentialist foundations of Ingmar Bergman’s cinema. Using the ideas of well-known Bergman scholars, we have tracked the ‘Existentialist’ sources of Ingmar Bergman cinema. In the end, we have made some determinations about how to approach to the cinema, philosophically. We have tried to found a philosophical film category called “Existentialist cinema”. We have endeavored to justify our theses with showing some example scenes and dialogues from Ingmar Bergman’s cinema.
Keywords: Philosophy of art, Existentialism, Ingmar Bergman, Existentialist cinema, philosophy of cinema
Sartre and Giacometti: Reflections on the existentialist art
In order to describe existential art, it is possible to draw upon common issues of the existential modern artists such as human, freedom, choice, revolt, fear, anxiety and absurdity. In this article, I would like to emphasize the ontological meanings of the concepts of existence, nothingness, emptiness and distance rather than psychological features such as anxiety, loneliness, despair and alienation, as is often done when examining the existential art. That is why I will analyse Alberto Giacometti, whom Jean-Paul Sartre considered to be the highest expression of existentialism in art. I would therefore like to enlighten a philosophical possibility of a special interaction between Sartre’s existentialism and the art of Giacometti. In this context, I will first examine Giacometti’s gaze and examine his relationship with external world. The main issue for Giacometti is to capture the distance by his gaze. The way in which the artist expresses his view reveals an unattainable problem of visual truth and the artwork becomes a problem of expression. I will explore the ontological analysis of this description with the theoretical compass presented by Sartre’s questions of unity in the multitude, essence and existence, being and nothingness.
Keywords: art, distance, emptiness, existence, being, nothingness
Search for Meaning Across Death within the Context of Heidegger and Sartre
The existential ontology Martin Heidegger tried to establish in Being and Time strongly influenced Sartre’s existential ethic. In this article, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existence and Nothingness and Existentialism which belong to his first period will be considered. According to Sartre finitude of being-for-itself, which makes its unique being in the face of nothingness, is required to establish its freedom. Just as in Heidegger’s philosophy, Dasein has to encounter nothingness and realize his mortality when it is searching for the meaning of existence. This article explains the reasons Sartre prefer finiteness instead of death. Finally, Sartre puts emphasis on the concept of anxiety (l’angoisse) in Being and Nothingness in terms of being-for-itself’s freedom. This reminds us of the concept of anxiety (Angst), which is the basic state-of-mind for Heidegger. In Sartrean philosophy, as anxiety is the condition of free consciousness, Heidegger considers, however, being authentic is possible for us with anxiety which brings us face to face with our death and nothingness. Accompanied by these determinations, on the one hand, the affinity of Sartre’s philosophy and Heidegger’s philosophy will be put forth, on the other hand, the effect of our mortality and/or finiteness on our efforts to find the meaning of our existence will be demonstrated. This article aims to highlight the kind of thoughts such as “what’s the point of living if you’re going to die?” or “what’s the point of what we’re going through if it’s all gonna be over?” are misimpressions.
Keywords: Existence, being, nothingness, finiteness, mortality, anxiety.
Letting Freedom Free: On Simone de Beauvoir’s Existential Ethics
Simone de Beauvoir states that her ethical conception based on the claim that human beings can only be described as ambiguity is a form of existentialism. According to Beauvoir, ambiguity is not a negative feature to be eliminated in the search for the certainty; on the contrary, it is the ontological structure of the entity. Ambiguity is the most fundamental reality that gives meaning to the world and human. In this context, facing with the criticisms brought to existentialism, she reveals that ethics is based necessarily on the other’s freedom. The individual freedom of human is inevitably intertwined with the freedom of others. In doing so, Beauvoir transcends individualism and attaches to sociality, and concludes that ethical decisions are also political decisions too. Beauvoir identifies freedom with ethical life by presenting it as the highest human goal desired for itself. Existentialism burdens human with the fact that everyone is responsible for everyone as an ethical value. Realizing that even not making a choice, is itself a choice, it becomes obvious that our freedom is based on and require each other. The aim of this study is to reveal that Beauvoir’s ambiguity is transformed into an existential ethical theory and in here freedom arises.
Keywords: Simone de Beauvoir, existentialism, ethics, ambiguity, freedom, self-other.