Barcenas 1 Why Do We Exist?

³Existentialism is a philosophical movement which emphasizes on individual existence, freedom, and choices (´ An individual has the right to chose what he wants and has to deal with the consequences of his actions. Existentialism came up in philosophy in the first half of the 19th century. There are many ideals of Existentialism that makes it a complicated topic to discuss. The main idea is that man makes himself and his own world and he has his choices, freedom and angst ( There are many people that had contributed to Existentialism such as Heidegger, Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Camus, and Kierkegaard. Existentialism is actually a European philosophy. It originated in the 19th century by Kierkegaard who accepts the absurd, the idea that there is no other meaning beyond the obvious. After WW2, many people started questioning individualism and freedom. It became a cultural movement thanks to Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Martin Heideggar who were the leaders of this philosophy in the early 20th century. Camus and Sartre were influence by Heideggar. Camus is more of a man that believes that there is hope in the world while Sartre believes that there is no hope and is more of a communist. Heideggar¶s influence started to spread more in France in the mid- 20th century. Literature, films, and poems emerged with the existentialism ideals that made people think about the world around them and their existence. Kierkegaard is known as the father of Existentialism. He was a deep believer in God and Christianity. He states, ³You do not really meet the Creator until death yet suicide is not an option or everyone would try it. Freedom is a punishment, not a reward, yet mankind relishes this freedom (´ Suicide is the easy way out of life and this makes it unworthy to meet God. Freedom is not a reward because people tend to

Barcenas 2 abuse their freedom to do what they want. The need to do what a person desires leads to doing the wrong thing. It is accurate that the even a good decision has some consequences ( Kierkegaard so acknowledges the fact that every person should find his or her own spiritual path. He realized that he is faithful to God by choice not by logic ( Albert Camus is a writer but there is a big debate on his status. Is he an existentialist or an absurdist? He was involved in the Communist Party but he got out and became a socialist. He wrote for newspapers about the War. During World War 2, he met Jean Paul Sartre and then was driven apart due to political differences. Camus was a socialist while Sartre was more into communism ( Camus believed that life was absurd, valuable, and worth defending ( became an activist, playwright, and a journalist. His major works include The Stranger, ³The Myth of Sisyphus´, and Caligula. Jean Paul Sartre is more of a Communist and he believes that there is no hope in life. Sartre seems like a prideful figure and is at home when he is writing in what he believes in ( His personality my be because he is self-absorbed by his own intellect. His childhood had been in some ways tragic. His father had died before he turned one year old and his mother dressed him as a girl. The reason for this was that he was unattractive ( He had many friends that he was close to but lost a great friendship due to his support of the Soviet Union. Sartre philosophy was that man makes himself. He has the ability to make himself into something in the world. No one else has an impact on his identity. ³In the absence of a Creator, individuals feel abandoned, with a sense of anger at the universe (

Barcenas 3 csw/exist/sartre.shtml).´ He wrote Nausea and The Transcendence of the Ego. Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the misunderstood figures because he is involved in Nazism. His ideals involve the fact that must take part in the world and he must live life fully to reach his fullest potential ( What makes Nietzsche different is that he attacks Christianity. One of his famous statements is ³God is Dead (´ God is not here so therefore, there is no value in religion and there is nothing to live for. Man is responsible for himself and God does not exist and therefore, life is valuable only as we live it. Heidegger believed in the ideal that Existentialism is the ³existence itself, when we face our contingence, and the absurdity of our acts and choices, it is that through which fear becomes possible ( Fear is possible. Heidegger was into the Nazis movement and believed that evil men do have some good qualities and those who are good do have some bad qualities. Heidegger had Sartre as one of his students but this ended in a bad way. Heidegger ended up joining the Nazis Party and he is linked to Hitler. He believes that if something has no meaning, it does not have existence. ³Heidegger believed the existence of a physical body preceded the essence of self (´ If something is not there, is it possible for it to exist? A person sees something and it does exist. If it is not there, but it does exist, does it have existence? It is a known fact that man can create something and then exist. Man is making something exist because he is creating something before it is a physical object. The world is a complicated place and sometimes man must take care of himself before he can put himself into the world. A person must accept the fact that there is death. Death is near and it is not avoidable. Just as death cannot be avoided, neither is guilt. At some point, man is guilty of something. He can fail in a plan and feel guilty that his failure to succeed may have an impact on

Barcenas 4 someone. Man¶s decisions have an impact on someone and man must take the consequences of his actions. Lastly, man has to desire life. He must live life fully each day. He has the power to rise above his being (http: // shtml). Existentialists are usually linked to Heidegger because of his ideas of death and existence. There are literary works that portray Existentialism such as ³The Metamorphosis,´ The Stranger, and ³The Myth of Sisyphus.´ ³The Metamorphosis´ starts with Samsa waking up as a insect. Samsa is still optimistic in the beginning of the novel but he is still a bug. As the novel goes on, he becomes more bug-like. Samsa dies after starving himself and trying to free his family from the responsibility of taking care of him. Kafka is some times compared to Samsa because he is writing about his life. Sartre¶s idea that man is hopeless comes into this novel. Samsa is not hopeless in the beginning but as the novel ends he is because he will never be Samsa again. He has changed so much that he has accepted the absurdity that he is now a bug and move on. In The Stranger, Meursault committed a crime. He murdered an Arab. During his questioning, he does not lie. He is seen as a mindless man with a routine. ³I was going back to work, and that, really nothing had changed´ (Camus 24). He does not feel emotions easily and this is seen as abnormal. He does not lie because he is being himself. He is at peace with the person he is. He has committed a crime and is taking the consequence for his action. Albert Camus shows that Meursault is not against God but there is still the idea that he does exist. Meursault states ³I said no«He said it was impossible; all men believed in God, even those who turned their backs on him. That was his belief, and if he were ever to doubt it, his life would become meaningless³ (Camus 69). Meursault is being truthful because this is what he believes and he is not going to deny his own person just to agree with someone. The examining magistrate does believe in God because to not believe in God is the loss of value and a

Barcenas 5 meaningless life. ³The Myth of Sisyphus´ makes Sisyphus a hero. He knows his fate. He knows the he will forever be pushing a rock up the hill until something stops him but unfortunately nothing will. ³One sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone (Camus).´ Sisyphus is conscious of his fate and this leads to him accepting that his fate is known. He can change his fate because he has the power. He is a hero because every time that he pushes the rock to the top of the hill, he accomplishes something. He is a stronger man because is still experiencing life rather than just committing suicide. In comparison to ³The Myth of Sisyphus´ and ³The Metamorphosis´ Sisyphus is a stronger character than Samsa. Sisyphus accepts his fate and learns to live a life that is worth experiencing because he is getting stronger every time he reaches the top of the hill. Samsa on the other hand is weaker because he does not make an effort to keep living. He knows his fate and he thinks that he should die instead of living each day as a bug. Existentialism in film is sometimes hard to understand. In Donnie Darko, Donnie escapes death by leaving home when the jet engine comes crashing into his bedroom. Donnie meets with Frank who actual saves his life when he escapes fate. Donnie took control of his own fate by leaving his room. Frank tells Donnie to do certain things and he does them because he ³doesn¶t want to be alone (Donnie Darko).´ Frank shows him the future and he sees that he has indeed escape fate. ³I just do not debate it anymore. It¶s absurd (Donnie Darko).´ Donnie Darko embraces the fact that life is absurd and he will have to deal with what happens in the end. He knows that eventually he will die so why not just cut to the chase and deal with fate. ³The Light Receiver must ensure the fall of all mankind (Donnie Darko).´ In the book that explains the philosophy of time travel, Donnie realizes that the choices that a person makes have an effect on everyone and not just him. Donnie does remember what happens in the future and embraces his

Barcenas 6 fate when the jet engine does hit his bedroom. If he had escaped his fate repeatedly, he would be just like Sisyphus. Sisyphus and Donnie both embrace the idea that life is like pushing the stone up the hill and that they both have control of their fate and face it. Unlike Sisyphus, Donnie is weak mentally. He is a puppet that Frank controls and chooses to face his fate rather than live and fight his mental disorder and Frank. In American History X, Derek spends couple of years in jail for murdering two African Americans from a rival gang. Derek is the leader of his gang and people look up to him including his younger brother. Derek has fallen deep into racism and while he is in jail, he befriends an African American man and is influenced by his teacher through books. He realizes that the life that he had being leading is just not right. He is doing the same thing over and over again. He is ashamed of the life that he leads. When he comes home, he sees his brother with a tattoo. He sees Danny facing the same fate as himself. Derek tells Danny about his journey in jail. ³It got me lost, Iµm tired of feeling pissed off (American History X).´ Derek quits his gang and starts bettering himself and his brother. Derek understands that the more time he stays in his gang, the more violence there is. Derek sees that all he will ever do as a gang member is getting mad at the rival gangs and fighting them because of racism. Unfortunately, fate has already been decided and Danny is shot at school by a rival gang member. Danny¶s choice to be involved with a gang leads to his death. I think that Existentialism is complicated. Even though it is a huge topic with subtopics, I agree with it. Man does have the power to be what he wants to be and he can change is fate. A person is strong enough to face life and make living worthwhile. However, I disagree with Sartre. Life does have hope. Hope is why we are living and we want to make a better life for ourselves. We have to deal with the fact that there are consequences in every action. I think that

Barcenas 7 as life goes on man becomes stronger and is able to face life better. Life is exciting and suicide is not a choice. We are not mindless people because we know that choices do have consequences. We need to make the right choices because they tend to affect the people around us.