Tag Archives | Existentialism

Experiences of Depression: A Study in Phenomenology

Ross (CC by-nc-nd 2.0)

Ross (CC by-nc-nd 2.0)

Reviewed by Katherine Withy, via Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:

This volume collects Matthew Ratcliffe’s work from the last five years on depression and existential feeling, offering a rich and compelling phenomenological interpretation of the variety and unity of experiences of depression. Ratcliffe’s interpretation is informed by and in dialogue with not only historical and contemporary phenomenology, but also philosophy of mind and philosophy of emotion, as well as psychiatry and psychology. The book is an important contribution to phenomenology in general and to the phenomenology of mood disorder in particular, and it provides those who suffer from depression — as well as those who care for them — a powerful new way to understand and express their experiences.

The primary challenge facing a phenomenology of depression is that depressive experiences are hard to describe adequately — and any description that a sufferer does produce seems to lend itself to being misunderstood.

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Jean-Paul Sartre and Existential Choice

Stephen Fry explains existentialism in two minutes, for BBC Radio 4:

The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre thought that human beings live in anguish. Not because life is terrible. But rather because, we’re ‘condemned to be free’. We’re ‘thrown’ into existence, become aware of ourselves, and have to make choices. Even deciding not to choose is a choice. According to Sartre, every choice reveals what we think a human being should be.

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Self-Help and Existential DIY

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Everybody’s got qualms. Nobody I know is assessing their reality and the realities around them as something to be thrilled about. Even spirited people draped in “joie de vivre have their misgivings, and their vibrancy is in spite of them, not without them. There is a brand of millennial millenarianism wherein a palpable feeling of tension and accumulating energy on the cusp of discharge is identified as a harbinger of doom and gloom: we all feel the anxiety and the prickliness, the shakiness of the old foundational assumptions about the ways of the world. Things can be better. Things aren’t working the way they used to, or at least the way they are supposed to. Government is corrupt, unresponsive, increasingly authoritarian and in bed with Big Business, all while Big Business wrecks the planet so the rich get can richer and the poor get poorer.… Read the rest

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FBI Spied On Sartre And Camus In Effort To Unravel Subversive Conspiracy Behind Existentialism

sartre_jpThe New York Times reports that beginning in 1945, the FBI began spying on the French philosophers, fearing that their ideas on being and nothingness were part of a plot against the United States:

[Sartre and Camus]’s lectures at Columbia University were well attended by students and faculty members — and by agents from J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I.

Yet Sartre, on his visit, was actually invited to the Pentagon; Camus, in contrast, “was stopped at immigration…Hoover sent out a ‘stop letter’ to all U.S. customs agents saying this man should be detained,” Mr. Martin said. Eventually, Camus was allowed to proceed to New York, where his novel “L’Étranger” (“The Stranger”) had just been published in English.

“Hoover thought there must be some kind of conspiracy between communists, blacks, poets and French philosophers. He was hoping for some kind of evidence of conspiracy,” he said.

The F.B.I. was baffled by Sartre. “These agents were trying to work out what the hell existentialism was all about,” said Mr.

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Police Mortality: The Movie

From art group Anti-Banality, the first segment of their new feature-length film Police Mortality. It was created by splicing together countless blockbuster action and cop movies, and tells the story lying underneath — a cop's sudden existential crisis leads to the nation's police turning on each other:
Police Mortality is Anti-Banality’s latest wish-fulfillment symptomology of, as one character hallucinates it, “a precisely formulated national conspiracy of police genocide.” It is a paranoid-schizophrenic blitz against police subjectivity, skimmed off nearly 200 movies by that other social superego–Hollywood. In this opening scene, the immaculate suicide of one LAPD officer begins to reveal the contradictions of police existence to a force which, finding itself multiply irreconcilable with itself, resorts to terminal civil war, eradicating the prevailing organization of life in the process.
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On The Death Of Monotheism

Via Soul Spelunker, a celebration of the polytheistic outlook:

In his greatest work, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is dead” … the proclamation of God’s death paves the way for a new epoch of freedom. If centrality suggests control, acentrality suggests theological and psychological liberty.

Humans have always been polytheistic in nature. The word, polytheism, is a way to explain the plurality of living Beings that compose each and every person. Make no mistake, they are real Persons. Monotheism, on the other hand, is the promotion of a single, central figure at the center of the human Microcosm, which we call the Ego. The overinflated Ego is the Minotaur at the center of the maze of existence that consumes all others that challenge his authority. It is a male character because monotheism is very much a patriarchal phenomenon.

Polytheism is just as much a social phenomenon as it is a theological phenomenon.

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Possible Evidence That Our Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Are the various physical limits of our universe (e.g. the cutoff in the amount of energy a cosmic ray can have) evidence that our universe is the creation of technology with limited capabilities? Huffington Post explains:

A long-proposed thought experiment points out that any civilisation of sufficient intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible. Since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is more likely than not that our world is artificial.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany say they have evidence this may be true. They point out that simulations of the universe naturally put limits on physical laws. By just being a simulation, [a] computer would put limits on, for instance, the energy that particles can have within the program. These limits would be experienced by those living within the sim – and as it turns out, something which looks just like these limits do in fact exist.

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Media Roots Radio: Existential Conversation – State of Humanity & the World

Via Media Roots: Robbie & Abby Martin of Media Roots have an impromptu late night conversation about existentialism: the progression of technology and its effect on human interaction; human nature and the inability to face personal truths; reinforced perceptions of reality and societal myths keeping people in line; false flag terrorism, corporate collusion, the police state ruling society by fear and the unsustainable nature of global capitalism.
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Disturbing Conversation Between Chatbots

Via Cornell's Creative Machines Lab, two robots are forced into an uncomfortable conversation that touches on God and other existential matters. (Both are suspicious that the other may have android origins, but neither wants to admit it.) It's even more disconcerting to imagine robots someday having such discussions without human supervision and coming to epiphanies concerning their robotic nature.
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Action Camus, the Superman of Nihilism

Was reading Boldtype's "10 Awesome Books to Give Your Nonreading Friends" where I came across the work of cartoonist R. Sikoryak. Here'a an article about him from The New Yorker:
For twenty years, the cartoonist R. Sikoryak has been creating parody strips of literary masterpieces, casting familiar cartoon characters in classic roles — Little Lulu as Pearl Prynne, Little Nemo as Dorian Gray, Charlie Brown as Gregor Samsa. If you’re like me, and you sometimes like your serious literature with a side of Beavis and Butthead (see Sikoryak’s take on “Waiting for Godot”), you will probably laugh out loud over Masterpiece Comics, a collection of thirteen of these strips, just out from Drawn & Quarterly.
Here is R. Sikoryak's take on an existentialist superhero: ActionCamus Check out the The New Yorker link for a Kafkaesque Charlie Brown tale.
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