Existentialism and Phenomenology versus Hegelian Idealism
Continental Philosophy is a set of beliefs that came from english speaking philosophers during the 19th and 20th centuries, primarily, as European reaction to analytic philosophy and Hegel’s form of Idealism (Moore and Bruder, 2005). The grounds of continental philosophy’s core contrasts the influences of Hegelian Idealism to various fields such as literature, theology and art. Continental Philosophy is comprised of numerous schools such as Existentialism, Phenomenology, Hermoneutics, Deconstruction and Critical Theory of Frankfurt (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Two notable schools, in terms of influence, are Existentialism and Phenomenology. Existentialism and Phenomenology trace the origins of their themes from Socrates’ beliefs and the pre-Socratic era (Moore and Bruder, 2005).
Phenomenology is a belief which is part of the vast wave of continental philosophy based on the works of Edmund Husserl (Moore and Bruder, 2005). It is generally centered on the essential structures found within the stream of conscious experience or phenomena, these structures exhibit liberal manifestations from the assunptions and pre-suppositions of science. Phenomenology traces its roots from the principles of Kant and Hegel, ironically, phenomenologists deny concepts of Hegelian Idealism (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Husserl deems phenomenology as a study of the essence in an individualistic manner. Edmund Husserl believes that the possibility of cerainty is still plausible, thus, he presented a science that studies structures identical to every consciousness, the universal phenomenology of consciousness (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Husserl acquired numerous vital principles that aid to the foundation of Phenomenology. Mainly, Franz Brentano’s intentionality, which posits that mental acts are intentional and the fundamentals of such acts give description to the basic structure of consciousness (Moore and Bruder, 2005). That every mental has an objective which is the key factor that defines mental phenomena from its physical counterpart. Husserl’s application of intentionality aims to conquer the cubject/object division dominant in philosophy. Martin Heiddeger, a famed phenomenologist is greatly influenced by Husserl’s work, though he sees Husserl’s approach on the subject/object matter as a flaw. Heiddeger also pays attention on the expansion of phenomenological queries to envelope understanding of the Being, hence making phenomenology a the study of being (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Like Husserl, Heiddeger is also inclined to the idea that it is a necessity to contemplate on things clearly, with the absence of presuppositions of the past and present, to have a perspective of things with a deeper basis. Basically, Heiddeger’s philosophy contradicted the orthodox examinations of the world and the things found in it because Heiddeger believes that the course of this quest for knowledge puts the self aside (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Heiddegers thought on poetry suggests a silent, nonimpositional appraoch in order to see the Being as it makes its presence known (Moore and Bruder, 2005).
Heiddeger claims that thought is dependent on Being, and Being , makes thought possible. Thus, Heiddeger states that humans, for the purpose of enlightenment, need to consider the Being, rather than looking into themselves alone (Moore and Bruder, 2005). This poetic thinking, for Heiddeger, tends to discover uncharted territories and that traditional philosophies and metaphysics must be set aside for this more original method of thinking (Moore and Bruder, 2005).
Existentialism is a philosophical belief suggesting that humans create the meaning of their very existence. Particularly, Existentialism postulates themes regarding existence that tend to drift away from the conventional concerns of philosophy and is more focused on the matters surrounding human existence (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Existentialists believe that life in itself is meaningless and absurd if an individual will not face or contemplate on the the existential concerns (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Early Existentialists such as Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche believe that traditional philosophy such as Metaphysical systems and rationality are useless attempts to overcome pessimism and despair and that such beliefs are disregard for the human predicament (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Nietzsche and Kierkegaard primarily believed that 19th century philosphy and culture shrouded major issues like emptiness and decadence (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Kierkegaard and Nietzsche contended against the destructive effects of traditional philosophies to various practices such as religion. Nietzsche disapproved of the church’s augmenting of Christianity, which he thought of as a mislead to the values of Christ. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche repelled the dominant beliefs of the 19th century and started a new trend that mainly concern human existence, the themes of their philosophy also extended its arms to artforms such as literature and painting throughout the 20th century (Moore and Bruder, 2005). The existentialists express resentment for senseless thought systems and focus more on the conditions surrounding human existence influenced art movements like Surrealism, Dadaism and Expressionism (Moore and Bruder, 2005). However, the two differ in their perspectives of religion, particularly on the argument of its significance to a person’s life. Kierkegaard claims that Christian belief and faith for that matter is a personal experience, while for Nietzsche, Christian faith is merely a means to atone for the people’s weaknesses (Moore and Bruder, 2005).
Albert Camus, a contemporary existentialist crusader follows the tradition of Husserl and Heiddeger (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Albert Camus believes that people live and die without seeing the the true nature of things (Moore and Bruder, 2005). That humans block the true human needs with forced optimism. Thereby, dominantly placing self-deception in their sense of being, making humans lost and misguided from the self and from the disablity to fill the essential needs. Camus gave two needs that a person must fill, first is the need for clarity and understanding, second is the need for social warmth contact (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Camus furthers that we live in an absurd world wherein such human needs go unsatisfied. Camus blames the opaqueness and density of the world for the insufficient reason as to why things happen (Moore and Bruder, 2005). Camus also states that humans, in this violent age tend to remain strangers to themselves and to one another which causes the second need’s unaccomplishment (Moore and Bruder, 2005).
Moore, Brooke Noel, and Kenneth Burder. Philosophy: The power of Ideas, Sixth Edition. New York: Mcgraw-Hill Companies, 2005.