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Philosophy of Existentialism Term Paper

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Updated: Sep 15th, 2019

Introduction

From time immemorial man has always looked for all possible ways and means of understanding and explaining different concepts concerning existence and purpose of life and the human nature. The philosophy of existentialism dates back to 18th century whereby several philosophers in their thirst to understand human nature formulated thoughts and ideas that we currently study as existentialism.

The philosophy of existentialism though difficult and abstract gives explanation to most of the questions that we ask ourselves as we go through life. Understanding this philosophy is significant as it helps one to make wise decisions on issues touching on life among other things. This paper discusses the different elements behind the philosophy of existentialism and how they relate to lying and deception.

Existentialism

Davis defines existentialism as “a philosophical stance that emerged out of the attempt to find meaning in life without acknowledging the existence of God” (Davis 1). Different philosophers have different interpretations and thoughts on ideologies behind the concept of existentialism though all of them have their thoughts built up on theories of existence of mankind, life and its meaning, personal freedom, and the element of self-awareness.

Existentialism is actually based mainly on two beliefs, everything is subjective and existence precedes essence. It is important to note that existentialism sources its explanations about life and existence from a natural view and thus can be seen as an atheistic theory (Davis 1). The philosophy of existentialism explains some of the basic aspects of natural existence such as element of being, life and death, angst, absurdity, autonomy, freedom, existence before essence, fulfillment, and forlornness among others.

Element of being

According to Davis “The human being’s essence lies in his existence. An individual is free to choose different kinds of “being” for himself” (Davis 1). The element of being is characterized by concern existence and moods.

This implies that human beings have no predetermined course of nature and thus we have the freedom to choose the path of our destiny by configuring our actions in life. In short we have no preprogrammed life. It is also argued that by the element of being human beings have the freedom to act and behave independently without external influences. From this concept we then make up our own values depending on the various choices that we make which eventually determines our human nature (Banach 1).

Anxiety

Perhaps one of the reasons existentialists would give for lying is the fear of the unknown. Man’s knowledge is very limited and absolutely no any external source of value. A report by Banach was quoted claiming that:

We are faced with the lack of any external source of value and determination. We are faced with the responsibility of choosing our own nature and values, and, in doing so, we are faced we must face the awesome responsibility of choosing human nature and values for all men in our free choices. (Banach 1)

It can thus be argued that the presence of anxiety in human nature could be one of the primary causes of lying as we try to alienate ourselves from situations which are likely to trigger anxiety in us.

Existentialism views about lying and deception

It is without doubt that it is difficult to have a clear cut difference between deception and lying especially when talking in philosophical terms. Is lying deception or is the converse true? What is the relationship between the two? Is there any moral connection and how are the two related to our human nature. A report by Solaman has it that

The essence of the lie implies in fact that the liar actually is in complete possession of the truth which he is hiding. A man does not lie about what he is ignorant of; he does not lie when he spreads an error of which he himself is the dupe; he does not lie when he is mistaken (Solaman 1).

The philosophy of Existentialism views lying as deviation from the freedom nature of mankind which is usually seen as bad faith. Existentialists view deception as an element of bad faith. Procrastination is one of the ways of self-deception whereby we alienate ourselves from the absolute truth.

This, according to existentialists arises from the fact that we have the freedom of choice as we take the journey through life and that at times we are bound to be faced with a difficult situation or condition that has the potential of causing us pain and agony and as such try to avoid the responsibility by escaping from our degree of freedom; in doing that, we deceive ourselves.

It is claimed that “Self-deception has many forms including taking on the roles and duties from which we base all our actions, excusing ourselves from choice by saying that we have no other choice” (Pychyl 1). Pychil still goes on to claim that “the existentialist understanding of this self-deception is living in Bad Faith. It is an inauthentic way of living, as we deny responsibility for our own lives, our own choices” (Pychyl 1).

Fulfillment

The existentialists believe that man is responsible for his own fulfillment and as such he has the freewill to determine personal fulfillment by doing what he thinks is best for his fulfillment. Lying and deception can then be argued to be caused by the need of personal fulfillment whereby people do actions that either qualifies as a lie or deception in the endeavor of personal fulfillment. Davis claims that “man makes his own fulfillment. He can create whatever he likes, and in so doing will determine for himself what is fulfilling” (Davis 1).

Conclusion

The philosophy of existentialism is one of the most difficult to understand especially given that it is based not on any empirical evidence but in the thoughts of the thinkers who are bound to think in different perspectives. The philosophy is based on the idea that existence precedes essence. Existentialism sources its explanations about life and existence from a natural view and thus can be seen as an atheistic theory. Existentialists view deception as an element of bad faith.

Procrastination is one of the ways of self-deception whereby we alienate ourselves from the absolute truth. It can thus be argued that the presence of anxiety in human nature could be one of the primary causes of lying as we try to alienate ourselves from situations which are likely to trigger anxiety in us. Lying and deception can then be argued to be caused by the need of personal fulfillment whereby people do actions that either qualifies as a lie or deception in the endeavor of personal fulfillment.

Works Cited

Davis, Freddy. Existentialism. Market Faith, 2006. Web.

Pychyl, Timothy. , 2008. Web.

Solaman, Shauna. What is bad faith? Philosophe, 2006. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Philosophy of Existentialism." September 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/existentialism/.


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