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Discussions and views on Existentialism

 
Patrick Bateman
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02/03/2013 04:18 AM
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Discussions and views on Existentialism
I wanted to start a thread to discuss Existentialism and what people agree with or disagree with, or just share thoughts or give reading advice.

I understand many have misconceptions of what it really is, and many will not care, but this thread is for those of us that find it interesting.

I have read a lot of Dostoevsky, some Camus, Sartre, Kierkegaard, etc.

So, what are your favorite books, or authors or ideas on the subject?

I am currently taking a class on Existentialism and am reading Dostoevsky's Notes From the Underground for the first time and find it strangely fascinating as well as hilarious.

Any thoughts or ideas anyone would like to share?

Last Edited by Patrick Bateman on 04/02/2013 09:11 PM
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/03/2013 04:29 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
If you have an iphone or ipad, there is a sweet free app called audiobooks, that has tons of free books, many older ones like those written by the authors I mentioned that are really sweet.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/03/2013 04:44 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
How could I forget Nietzsche above in the group of writers.

While there is no concrete definition of Existentialism as it is quite broad and ideas of it very quite a bit, it has a lot to do with ones existence and it preceding their essence, understanding that time is of the essence and not letting life slip away, understanding humanism and using it to reach your goals, comprehending freedom and responsibility, realizing you are free and have no choice in this matter, and despite any circumstance you always have a choice, as well as ethics, and using all of these things to not only find or understand your goal, but also taking the initiative to be the best you can be.

It is almost like finding your own personal reason for existence through action rather than merely talking about it, while also understand that life a whole may not have a reason for existence and it is up to each individual to find their own purpose.


Here is some more reading that may give more understanding for those who are not familiar.

[link to plato.stanford.edu]

[link to www2.webster.edu]

[link to www.allaboutphilosophy.org]
Lucky Charms

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02/03/2013 04:50 AM

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
I don't know much about it formally (and really, who does?) but I do find myself leaning towards the Absurd, I don't see any higher objective meaning to existence other than that which we, with our gloriously limited minds, choose to assign to it and when we do, the Absurd will make sure that meaning gets steamrolled at the earliest opportunity.

When we do it in groups, we call it "society" or "religion" or "culture" and when we do it as individuals we are called "insane" lol.

The Absurd is the one constant truth in the world imo and will always assert itself whenever we try to suppress it.

I haven't done much reading beyond the big names but I do know a good joke about Sartre...

Sartre was sitting in a cafe when a waitress approached him: "Can I get you something to drink?"

Sartre says, "I'd like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream".

The waitress goes to get the order and comes back and says "I'm sorry sir, we are all out of cream -- how about with no milk?"

Eh? I like that one.

If I'm honest my favorite existential philosopher is the Joker, he gets it.

whoopdedo
'Magically Delicious'
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
I don't know much about it formally (and really, who does?) but I do find myself leaning towards the Absurd, I don't see any higher objective meaning to existence other than that which we, with our gloriously limited minds, choose to assign to it and when we do, the Absurd will make sure that meaning gets steamrolled at the earliest opportunity.

When we do it in groups, we call it "society" or "religion" or "culture" and when we do it as individuals we are called "insane" lol.

The Absurd is the one constant truth in the world imo and will always assert itself whenever we try to suppress it.

I haven't done much reading beyond the big names but I do know a good joke about Sartre...

Sartre was sitting in a cafe when a waitress approached him: "Can I get you something to drink?"

Sartre says, "I'd like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream".

The waitress goes to get the order and comes back and says "I'm sorry sir, we are all out of cream -- how about with no milk?"

Eh? I like that one.

If I'm honest my favorite existential philosopher is the Joker, he gets it.

whoopdedo
 Quoting: Lucky Charms


Lol, thanks for the reply!
Axo Azeratel

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02/03/2013 04:57 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Existential Void Where Prohibited

...

chuckle
Axo Azeratel

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02/03/2013 05:26 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
"Zero" is but a mirror into the mind

damned
Anonymous Coward
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02/03/2013 05:34 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
your existance is based 100% on your envierment
Anonymous Coward
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02/03/2013 05:57 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
my existence has nothing to do with others outside of my enviernment

yet laws of others dictate how I live
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/03/2013 04:01 PM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
your existance is based 100% on your envierment
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 33567332


my existence has nothing to do with others outside of my enviernment

yet laws of others dictate how I live
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 33567332


Right, many existentialists would argue this to be true. That these laws may push you one way or another, but also that you always have a choice whether to obey them or not. Even if you have a gun to your head, you do have a choice.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 02:19 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
BUNP!
DPS

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02/06/2013 02:24 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 04:13 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
 Quoting: DPS


Lol, wtf? Why do you hate me? And nihilism and existentialism can be related in a way, but are not equal.

There are existentialist philosophers who believe in god.

Last Edited by Patrick Bateman on 02/06/2013 04:13 AM
Anonymous Coward
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02/06/2013 04:16 AM
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Bump for North Korean Unity on front page
DPS

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02/06/2013 04:17 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
 Quoting: DPS


Lol, wtf? Why do you hate me? And nihilism and existentialism can be related in a way, but are not equal.

There are existentialist philosophers who believe in god.
 Quoting: Patrick Bateman


is your dick getting sucked in that pic?
Anonymous Coward
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02/06/2013 04:19 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
 Quoting: DPS


Lol, wtf? Why do you hate me? And nihilism and existentialism can be related in a way, but are not equal.

There are existentialist philosophers who believe in god.
 Quoting: Patrick Bateman


is your dick getting sucked in that pic?
 Quoting: DPS


banana2
The_Mhael

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02/06/2013 04:19 AM

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Read ecclesiastes.

Probably one of my favorite literary works of all time.

[link to www.biblegateway.com]

Last Edited by The_Mhael on 02/06/2013 04:21 AM
servant of christ
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 04:54 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Read ecclesiastes.

Probably one of my favorite literary works of all time.

[link to www.biblegateway.com]
 Quoting: The_Mhael


I have read the entire bible more than once, it has been years though. Maybe I'll have to read it again.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 07:01 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Some books I have read or am reading for my Existentialism class are...

Existentialism A Very Short Introduction by Thomas R. Flynn.

Notes From the Underground, White Nights, The Dream of the Ridiculous Man, and The House of the Dead, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Nausea, Jean Paul Sartre.

The Fall, Albert Camus.

Either/Or A Fragment of Life, Soren Kierkegaard.


I have also in the past read some other works of existentialism, such as The Gambler, Crime and Punishment, etc.


I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions, I find this topic fascinating.


Also to those with smart phones,there is an app called Audio Books, and it contains thousands of older literature works, lots of classics including many of the ones I listed above and so many more. The last few I listened to wee Beowulf, The Art of War, Notes From the Underground, Anthem by Rand, and Walden. It is also free, so I would recommend it to everyone. I often listen to them when I am jogging, or driving, etc.
Oldgent

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02/06/2013 07:10 AM

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Read LaVey. The suggestion may seem strange, but his writings are philosophically intriguing and, more often than not, hilarious.
Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.
- H. P. Lovecraft
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 07:38 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Read LaVey. The suggestion may seem strange, but his writings are philosophically intriguing and, more often than not, hilarious.
 Quoting: Oldgent


Awesome thanks, I'll definitely check it out!
Anonymous Coward
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02/06/2013 08:21 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
I'm not a specialist here ofc but I've always saw French existentialists in a following manner: there was that German school of Phenomenology which basically tried to make a precise science of subjective experience, of first-person view, and then some French people tried to follow this school but in their study of subjective experience they discovered that there's that black hole in every subjective experience that makes it impossible to construct any supportable theory of this experience, so they decided that instead of trying to prevent danger, the black hole, or to quarantine it, we should learn to accept it as part of ourselves and live with it.

In this sense I can't get how does Dostoevsky fit into this, why does Western tradition sort him out as existentialist. Dostoevsky was that classic type of Christian thinker: he believed that there's "sin", so-called, and that sin makes up biggest part of human personality, but he wasn't saying we should accept it, rather he was saying we should learn to discern sin from non-sin and wait till God will take our non-sinful part away from sinful one, or wash sin away, but anyway wait till God will make his decision about us. (Kierkegaard's God, btw, is not personal, like Dostoevsky's one, and Kierkegaard refuses classic christian notion of history, so I see him somehow fitting this existentialist scene, despite him being Christian. Just to note that I'm not sorting Dostoevsky out of Existentialism just because he wasn't atheist. )

Likewise I hardly unsderstand why do they call Nietzsche existentialist, first he is not interested in subjective experience as such, he wasn't discerning between subjective and objective, hence his world is homogeneous and closed in itself, and so, second, there's no place for nothingness, ennui, alienation, nausea or whatever, there's such thing as weakness, but weakness is totally different from ennui, Nietzsche's weakness is lack of power, roughly speaking, and this weakness is not necessary part of human being, while nausea is inseparable from us, according to Sartre.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 08:48 AM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
I'm not a specialist here ofc but I've always saw French existentialists in a following manner: there was that German school of Phenomenology which basically tried to make a precise science of subjective experience, of first-person view, and then some French people tried to follow this school but in their study of subjective experience they discovered that there's that black hole in every subjective experience that makes it impossible to construct any supportable theory of this experience, so they decided that instead of trying to prevent danger, the black hole, or to quarantine it, we should learn to accept it as part of ourselves and live with it.

In this sense I can't get how does Dostoevsky fit into this, why does Western tradition sort him out as existentialist. Dostoevsky was that classic type of Christian thinker: he believed that there's "sin", so-called, and that sin makes up biggest part of human personality, but he wasn't saying we should accept it, rather he was saying we should learn to discern sin from non-sin and wait till God will take our non-sinful part away from sinful one, or wash sin away, but anyway wait till God will make his decision about us. (Kierkegaard's God, btw, is not personal, like Dostoevsky's one, and Kierkegaard refuses classic christian notion of history, so I see him somehow fitting this existentialist scene, despite him being Christian. Just to note that I'm not sorting Dostoevsky out of Existentialism just because he wasn't atheist. )

Likewise I hardly unsderstand why do they call Nietzsche existentialist, first he is not interested in subjective experience as such, he wasn't discerning between subjective and objective, hence his world is homogeneous and closed in itself, and so, second, there's no place for nothingness, ennui, alienation, nausea or whatever, there's such thing as weakness, but weakness is totally different from ennui, Nietzsche's weakness is lack of power, roughly speaking, and this weakness is not necessary part of human being, while nausea is inseparable from us, according to Sartre.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 33084014


Thanks for the response!

I am kind of confused though. It seems you associate atheism with existentialism?

While of course there is no simple definition of existentialism, it is most widely accepted as the philosophy and way of life of how one finds their self and their meaning and their own personal reason for life using themes such as existence precedes essence, understanding that time is of the essence, humanism, freedom and responsibility, and ethical considerations. It is sometimes simply called the "Individualistic philosophy". There are plenty of religious existentialists, but atheist ones as well.

While many views of famous existentialists differ, they all agree that the subject concerns a person finding their own way to their purpose of life.

Also, I don't understand how you classify Dostoevsky as a "classic christian thinker". Have you ever read Notes From the Underground? It is very intriguing and in my opinion, lets you get a great idea of how his mind worked. Interesting and hilarious, yet almost insane i certain ways. But as much as I hate to admit it, he reminds me a lot of myself, just I am not as depressed.

Thanks a lot for the response! I truly enjoy reading the thoughts of others on this subject, well on any subject to be honest! : )

Almost all existential philosophers and writers differ greatly, but hold in common the idea of finding their meaning for existence in this world often through free will and some other ideas. I believe that us why many are so different in ideas to the point that many people would not even think they should be classified under the same philosophy.


Many religious people often have an ignorant and wrong sense of what existentialism is as well. While some writers incorporate a lot of ideas such as nihilism, atheism, absurdism, etc, they are sometimes used in theories or ideas but not needed necessarily in order for one to find their meaning of self and life.


I apologize for this being poorly written and explained, but I have not slept yet, lol. Tear it apart and I will also answer any questions.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 08:52 AM
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I am not sure if there are any philosophers in here, or maybe Philosophy professors, or any one in the field, but I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions : )
Anonymous Coward
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02/06/2013 09:42 AM
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No I wasn't saying that all Existentialists should be atheists, I meant to say that basically Existentialism is based on the idea that there is that "nightside" of my mind or soul, and that I cannot get rid of it. Moreover, nobody except me personally can access this "nightside", nobody except me knows about it, so I'm absolutely along in front of it, I have to make all decisions on my own, nobody will help me simply because nobody can help me. This contradicts this view I called "classic Christian view" because, obviously, Christians believe that 1) God can access this "nightside", 2) God can help me to get rid of it, because 3) it is possible to get rid of this "nightside". These are three points where Christianity contradicts Existentialism. Moreover, say, Calvinist Christians believe that I don't have access to this nightside at all, that only God can see and understand it, which is totally incompatible with Existentialist basics.

Kirkegaard, is, again, somehow compatible with Existentialism because his concept of God is not that of a person who gives laws and judges, or suffers on the cross, Kierkegaard's God is like the impersonal abyss inside us, it's not transcendental, it's immanent. One may even say that Kiekegaard's God is himself inside the nightside of our soul, God is sitting at the very root of it, causing nausea and disbalance. It's somehow compatible with Existentialism though not fully.

And Dostoyevsky has very traditional concept of God and Human. God is all-seeing, all-knowing transcendental Person, human is erring being trying to find its way to purity. There's no Existentialism here, as far as I understand it.
Sleeping Giant

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
Sorry Patrick, nothing of value to add, but your post reminded me of a great song I hadn't heard in awhile.


[link to youtu.be]
"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." ~C.S. Lewis

"And I know that when I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard. We are not the wolves at the gate, we are the ones who face them.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 03:35 PM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
No I wasn't saying that all Existentialists should be atheists, I meant to say that basically Existentialism is based on the idea that there is that "nightside" of my mind or soul, and that I cannot get rid of it. Moreover, nobody except me personally can access this "nightside", nobody except me knows about it, so I'm absolutely along in front of it, I have to make all decisions on my own, nobody will help me simply because nobody can help me. This contradicts this view I called "classic Christian view" because, obviously, Christians believe that 1) God can access this "nightside", 2) God can help me to get rid of it, because 3) it is possible to get rid of this "nightside". These are three points where Christianity contradicts Existentialism. Moreover, say, Calvinist Christians believe that I don't have access to this nightside at all, that only God can see and understand it, which is totally incompatible with Existentialist basics.

Kirkegaard, is, again, somehow compatible with Existentialism because his concept of God is not that of a person who gives laws and judges, or suffers on the cross, Kierkegaard's God is like the impersonal abyss inside us, it's not transcendental, it's immanent. One may even say that Kiekegaard's God is himself inside the nightside of our soul, God is sitting at the very root of it, causing nausea and disbalance. It's somehow compatible with Existentialism though not fully.

And Dostoyevsky has very traditional concept of God and Human. God is all-seeing, all-knowing transcendental Person, human is erring being trying to find its way to purity. There's no Existentialism here, as far as I understand it.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 33084014


Interesting, thanks for sharing!
TrashTrawler

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02/06/2013 03:43 PM

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
 Quoting: DPS


Lol, wtf? Why do you hate me? And nihilism and existentialism can be related in a way, but are not equal.

There are existentialist philosophers who believe in god.
 Quoting: Patrick Bateman


You can't be an existentialist and believe in god, they are mutually exclusive. That being said, existentialists take responsibility and ownership of their thoughts and actions, and the consequences thereof, so they tend to think and act carefully and with much introspection when possible. Dump god and take responsibility for yourself already.
TrashTrawler

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02/06/2013 03:46 PM

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May I add, if you follow this path and become influential in spreading this mode of existence, it is a great way to get 'heart attacked' by TPTB.
Patrick Bateman (OP)

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02/06/2013 03:49 PM
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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
i hate you! i used to be a nihilist, was so depressed. but now i believe in god and nihilism, like god is the natural and only outcome of ultimate nothingness, which then in turn triggers the ex nihilo
 Quoting: DPS


Lol, wtf? Why do you hate me? And nihilism and existentialism can be related in a way, but are not equal.

There are existentialist philosophers who believe in god.
 Quoting: Patrick Bateman


You can't be an existentialist and believe in god, they are mutually exclusive. That being said, existentialists take responsibility and ownership of their thoughts and actions, and the consequences thereof, so they tend to think and act carefully and with much introspection when possible. Dump god and take responsibility for yourself already.
 Quoting: TrashTrawler


No, that is not rue, why do you think this?

And what makes you think I believe in god, lol.

You have a misunderstanding of what Existentialism is. Many existentialists will agree with you, but many others would disagree. That is one of the great things about it, it is very broad and undefined. But the only real common definition among the greats already explained above.
TrashTrawler

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02/06/2013 03:52 PM

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Re: Discussions and views on Existentialism
I was not refering to specifically Patrick, but in general.
See the works of this man who introduced me to the topic.

[link to www2.binghamton.edu]

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