Friday, August 22, 2014

What is Existenstialism?

Extracts from: ‘How Should We Then Live?’ by Francis A. Schaeffer

A good explanation of Existentialism:

“… Kierkegaardianism did bring to full tide the notion that reason will always lead to pessimism.  That is, one must try to find optimistic answers in regard to meaning and values on an “upper level” outside of reason.  Through a “leap of faith” one must try to find meaning without reason.

You will remember that in the High Renaissance, humanistic man, starting only from himself, had problems concerning the meaning or value of things and of absolutes for morals.  With Rousseau it became an AUTONOMOUS FREEDOM / AUTONOMOUS NATURE problem.  With Kant it was NOUMENAL WORLD / PHENOMENAL WORLD.  With Kierkegaardianism it went a step further and now became:


So optimism will now always be in the area of non-reason.”  Pg 163

“This (dichotomy) is the mark of modern man.” Parenthesis mine, Pg 164

Other Existentialists:
Jean-Paul Sartre (reason absurd, act of the will is “authenticating”)
Albert Camus
Martin Heidegger (answers separate from reason; Angst)
Karl Jaspers (German based in Basel Switzerland; final experience convinces us there is meaning to life)
Aldous Huxley (English; drugs the solution – Soma.  Brave New World; soma: substance in Eastern Hindu myths which was the drug keeping the gods contented)
Karl Barth (theological existentialism, “viewed the Bible as having many mistakes…” yet “…taught that a religious “word” breaks through from it.)

Paul Tillich (correlation; philosophy provides questions and theology provides answers; “Many criticisms of Tillich’s methodology revolve around this issue of whether the integrity of the Christian message is really maintained when its form is conditioned by philosophy” McKelway, The Systematic Theology of Paul Tillich, pg 47. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology “At best Tillich was a pantheist, but his thought borders on Atheism.”)

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