A Modern Resurgence?
Many principles and themes are timeless but there is no ‘existential system’ as such to come back to. Certainly power relations exist a priori, and freedom for all would be great – if only those in power were so enlightened. What’s the incentive for masters to promote freedom for slaves? And what if those who choose to take the easy road and relinquish their freedom? Forcing others to be free is not very existential. If we are, as Nietzsche suggested, will to power, then there is a tough battle ahead. Nevertheless, Nietzsche might say that such is the role of Übermenschen, so there is hope yet and it’s a worthy struggle.
So, if you have been following this blog since its inception, you will have noticed quite a few direct analyses of 20th Century Existentialism. Between Beauvoir, Sartre and in some ways Ernest Becker, we have covered quite a few of the central ideas inherent in the existentialist narrative. Particularly this blog has passionately followed Jason Silva’s Shots of Awe as the modern existentialist. The more I live on the internet and talk to people, the more I start to realize that existentialism is making a comeback! Whether we talk about reddits philosophy page, and authors trying to reconcile Durkheim with Sartre, or people on ideapod inspired by Becker, Existential Comics, we see that existentialism is making a powerful comeback, and eliciting good thinking.
We cannot, however, forget why existentialism met its bitter end in the first place. Robert C. Solomon has a series of lectures on 20th Century existentialism…
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