Existentialism Reading and Seminar notes taken from "Anthony Kenny's Philosophy In The Modern World ."
During the 19th century there was an exchange of philosophical ideas between Europe and other English speaking countries.
Existentialism, led in France by Jean-Paul Satre and in Germany by Martin Heidegger, in Europe was a popular school.
In the second half of the twentieth century the ideas of existentialism only had limited success.
Freud 1860- He had the greatest influence on the Anglo American philosophical thought throughout the twentieth century. But he did not regard himself as a philosopher but as a scientist and a creator of a new science.
Those who were engaged in teaching philosophy of the mind or ethics were forced to take into account of Freud’s ideas about Psychoanalysis and a human having an ego. Although very few would describe themselves as Freudian.
Notes on Freud:
Born in Moravia in 1860
He had an Austrian Family of non observant Jews.
Moved to Vienna and trained as a Doctor.
Specialised in brain anatomy
He then moved to Paris to study as a neurologist
1895 he published work on hysteria and an analysis of mental illness.
Seized hypnosis as a method of treatment- Called psychoanalysis
He was convinced that psychological traumas dated back to infancy and had a sexual content
Medical colleagues isolated him and his ideas. But he continued his practice in Vienna.
1990 he published his most important work “The interpretation of Dreams”. Dreams are no less than neurotic symptoms were a coded expression of repressed sexual desires.
His books were highly readable and he began to teach pupils and gain colleagues.
Freud has had an enormous influence on society, in relation to sexual mores and to our understanding of mental illnesses.
The ID is like Schopenhauer’s life form which is the Will. Why does talking help according to Freud? It reveals your memories, usually the ones you suppressed and those that are a bad memory. This becomes an illness if you suppress your memories, according to Freud. Talking in psychoanalysis is positive, he would argue there is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you think of homosexuality this has made a big difference for today. years ago this was a topic that many people avioded, they would suppress the idea. It is much more accetped today to dicuss homosexual experiences and feelings. Homosexuality has become less of an illness. Freud would literally say, don’t bottle it up.
Freud’s contemporaries were shocked by his emphasis on infantile sexuality.
Similar to that of Sigmund Freud. Also born into Jewish family and attended lectures in Vienna. He also studied the human mind. Both men faced Nazi anti- Semitism. Freud was driven out of Austria to die in exile and Husserl’s books brunt by German troops in 1939.
Husserl initially studied mathematics and astronomy not medicine. Husserl’s interest in philosophy began in his lectures from Franz Brentano in Vienna in 1884-1886.
Brento tried to relate Aristotelian philosophy of the mind to contemporary experimental inquiry, this was in his influential book “Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint,” published in 1874. The book explained that the consciousness came in tow kinds; physical and mental phenomena.
Physical phenomena- colours and smells
Mental phenomena- thoughts charatarised by having content or immanent object.
These two phenomena’s are similar to Hume’s idea and sensation.
We can only speculate about the world.
You see what you need to see in the world.
Husserl was influenced by Brento’s approach to philosophy although Husserl continued to focus on mathematics to begin with.
His first book, published in 1891, was called “Philosophy of Arithmetic.” The book attempted to explain our numerical concepts by identifying the mental acts that were their psychological origin. His view was that there was a strict empiricism, but on being shown that such an analysis could not possibly succeed, Husserl shifted his ground and started to defend the idea that the truths of arithmetic had a kind of necessity that could not be accounted for by empiricism.
He thought zero cannot phenomenologically be possible. But others would argue there is a logical zero.
The Phenomenon of plurality- More than one thing in a room. When we walk into a room with people in we can initially point out how many people were in that room by a quick glance. The natural number of people to see would be between 5 to 7 lets say. This depends on phenomenal capacity of that observer. Nobody could phenomenologically see thousands of things at once and know how many thousands they just saw.
Also multiplying in mathematics is conceptual not phenomenological. Husserl provide you can not reduce numbers to pure psychology.
The philosopher Frege does not see numbers phenomenologically his numbers are only logical.
In Husserl’s “Logical Investigations” (1990) he argued that logic cannot be derived from psychology. But while Frege focused philosophy of the logical side of the divide, Husserl followed the continental tradition, saw the psychological side.
The difference between continental and analytic people.
Continental thinkers, would say that everything is subjective experience. This is phenomenological.
Analytic thinkers would disagree. Mental phenomena is ignored. But meaning resolves into logic. They constantly define things. A computer is purely logical.
Heidegger (the father of existentialism)
The concept of being is the first task of being. We must understand being before we do anything else.
Heidegger created his vocabulary. He created the word Dasein.
Dasein is not amount thinking- It is effected by mood and emotion.
In terms of depression Heidegger and other existentialists would argue that YOU are part of the world. You and the world are not two separate ideas. Descartes said there was an external world, but Kant said we do not know the external.
Your being is the only essence, there is no external world- according to Heidegger.
Facticity: Derived from the Greek’s ‘fate.’ You cannot choose to change the rules of gravity, you cannot change brutal facts of the world. You can only construct facts in your realities.
Existentialists embedded in their Dasein are in a bubble. There is no need for them to know what is going on around them because they are so engrossed in what they enjoy doing, in otherwise occupied with their dasein. This sounds very similar for me for when i’m on my phone. I would say this is my dasein at times.
Existentialists like Heidegger would say “leave me alone i’m doing my own thing’- a very modern cliche thought used today.
If you are indulged in an activity dasein this is good. But if you are not you reach boredom. Boredom is subjective to time.
Believes that perception and imagination have no distinctive difference, and that being, is without reason, without cause, without necessity. Being, just is. It needs no definition as it is defines itself.
Satre would also have a nausea feeling constantly of the idea of dying.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used for recovery. Life is like a story it is purely fiction and you can change it. Bad Faith would be to be part of someone else’s story. Sartre would say that “Being For” is a denial of dasein, you are living on behalf of someone else. A good ethical person for example in a relationship would put their two daseins together. In relationships it is not being for someone else it is just constructing daseins together. In politics you should not let your dasein rule over others and you doing it ‘for your country’ is a political problem Startre encountered.
Existentialists love feminists and the flexibility Black people have had to change their fate. They cannot change the facticity of life but they can re-write their story for example once slavery was scrapped they could re-write their fate. The facticity of a women cannot change but the social role of women and men can change, you can change your narrative.