Download An Introduction to Existentialism by Robert G. Olson PDF

By Robert G. Olson

Fundamental advisor to at least one of the main influential inspiration structures of our century. Stressing the paintings of Heidegger and Sartre, it bargains a cautious and aim exam of the existentialist place and values — freedom of selection, person dignity, own love, artistic attempt — and solutions to the everlasting questions of the human situation.

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It must also be pointed out that this latter 53 assertion is made to rest almost entirely upon intuition. None the less if the validity of intuition as a method of knowledge is granted and if it is further granted that there is a fundamental identity of human aspirations and of means whereby these aspirations may be realized, there remains no good reason for denying the existentialists the right to claim universal and objective validity for their own value orientation. It follows from what has just been said that the second existentialist contention, that according to which the intense life is preferable to a life of moderation, is not radically different in kind from their first claim, that according to which happiness is an impossible ideal.

If, therefore, we wish to determine whether man is free, we cannot have recourse to the behavioral sciences; the validity of their conclusions depends upon the validity of their basic assumptions, among which is the premise that man is not free. It might be countered that past successes in predicting human behavior show the validity of the behavioral scientists’ method and consequently of their basic assumption that man is not free. The existentialist would retort in roughly the following way: What behavioral scientist could successfully have predicted an event such as Abelard’s falling in love with Héloïse or Shakespeare’s writing Hamlet?

Population would be regulated by birth control. The sciences of eugenics and hygiene would see to it that the best possible human beings were being bred. Diseases would have been abolished. There would be a purposive economy wherein . . the needs of all would be supplied. . Without struggle . . the joys of life would be provided for all in unalterable allotments, with the expenditure of little labor and with ample scope for pastime. 43 In truth, however, such a condition of affairs is impossible.

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