Existentialism. Mentiones Dostoyevsky

Essay by TregleUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 1997

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In our individual routines, each and every one of us strive to be the best that we are capable of being. How peculiar this is; we aim for similar goals, yet the methods we enact are unique. Just as no two people have the same fingerprint, no two have identical theories on how to live life. While some follow religious outlines to aspire to a level of moral excellence, others pursue different approaches. Toward the end of the Nineteenth-Century and on through the mid-Twentieth, a movement followed 'existentialism,' a philosophical theory of life, in order to achieve such a level. Even though the idea of existentialism is complex, certain themes are common amongst philosophers and authors: moral individualism, freedom of choice, responsibility, alienation.

Fundamental to understanding existentialism is the conception of moral individualism. Existentialism rejects traditional ethical endeavors. Philosophers since the time of Aristotle, circa Third-Century B.C.E. (before the common era), have held that everyone should aim for a common peak of ethical achievement.

Aristotle argued for the existence of a divine being, described as the 'Prime Mover,' who is responsible for the unity and purposefulness of nature. In order for humanity to attain such a climax, everyone must imitate The Almighty's perfect profile. Aristotle's basic philosophy deduces that humanity strives for an identical peak of moral excellence, as judged by a higher being (Aristotle).

Existentialism declares that the individual must choose his way; there is no predetermination. Since the universe is meaningless and absurd, people must set their own ethical standards. The universe does not predetermine moral rules. Each person strives toward a unique moral perfection. The Nineteenth-Century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who was the first writer to call himself e)existential, reacted against tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual is to find his uniqueness. His...