Existentialism vs Experientialism

by Andrea Elizabeth

I don’t see how The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy is that much different than wikipedia, except that it’s articles are a bit longer. People criticize Wikipedia for being unsourced or unreliable. Well, if it’s wrong, there is a method for correcting it or calling it to people’s attention. You can’t correct a bound book. Why should I trust people whose only credentials is that some liberal university gave them a degree and some company agreed to publish their “expertise”? That’s my sincere problem with text books and professors. If I don’t agree with them on the most basic points of origins and teloses why should I agree on their middle game? And it is a game.

Anywho, the CDoP starts its tiny print one and one quarter pages by saying that ‘existentialism came to prominence in Europe, particularly in France, immediately after WWII, and focuses on the uniqueness of each human individual as distinguished from abstract universal human qualities.’ After I got mad, they admitted that Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky are labeled existentialists before the fact. I wonder if Sartre’s atheistic Being and Nothingness would more appropriately be labeled nihilism.

Heidegger’s existential categories are “anxiety in the presence of death, our sense of being ‘thrown’ into existence, and our temptation to choose anonymity over authenticity in our conduct.” ‘Camus focuses on the absurd’, “there is always at best an imperfect fit between human reasoning and its intended objects, hence an impossibility of achieving certitude. Kierkegaard’s leap of faith is, for Camus, one more pseudo-solution to this hard, absurdist reality.” Simone de Beauvoir reexplains Heidegger in a feminist way, that societal roles aren’t necessarily authentic to womanness.

that about covers those pages. Google dictionary says, “a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

ok, that is insufficient.

Here is the lead in to the wikipedia article which is much longer than the CDoP one. ”

Existentialism (/ɛɡzɪˈstɛnʃəlɪzəm/)[1] is the work of certain late-19th- and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences,[2][3][4] shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.[5] While the predominant value of existentialist thought is commonly acknowledged to be freedom, its primary virtue is authenticity.[6] In the view of the existentialist, the individual’s starting point is characterized by what has been called “the existential attitude”, or a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.[7]Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.[8][9]

Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher,[2][10][11] though he did not use the term existentialism.[12] He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely, or “authentically”.[13][14] Existentialism became popular in the years following World War II, and strongly influenced many disciplines besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.[15]

Of course if one is interested in knowing a subject well, then they need to read books. Dictionaries are helpful to understand something someone else brings up, or to weed out what one wants to spend more time on in the future.

Back to existentialism vs experience, and eventually, vs. energies.

The CDoP says Experientialism. See Evidentialism That is not helpful.

Google and Wikipedia both pithily say, “Experientialism is the philosophical theory that experience is the source of knowledge.”

Ok, that is too close to existentialism to be contrasted. I didn’t want to dive into energies yet, but that’s the thing to contrast.

Firstly, God’s energies can be identified with the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. These are gracious gifts of God. They are also immaterial, though they leave a material footprint in our physical response to them. We can also say life is an immaterial thing. Bodies don’t make themselves alive. We can also say that created matter is a fruit of God, in that, to my understanding, the universe emanates from his mind in the eternal logoi. My thought is to compare God’s energies – material and immaterial – to our experience of them.

I would imagine that existentialism can be dismissed as relativism. This is a bad word among rules-type people. They believe truth trumps one’s experience with or response to it.

The first example that comes to mind of a possible existential response is in Genesis 1 when God calls the things he creates good. One could easily argue that creation possesses the properties of goodness – which I thought existentialism would be more about: the state in which things exist. Instead existentialism seems to be about one’s response to being: how one perceives or experiences his existence. Therefore I think existentialism should be renamed experientialism. Anyway, what if God’s response to creation was that it was good? That’s probably not right. That’s more of an anthropomorphic response to innate (there’s another of my descriptions of existentialism) properties of goodness, instead of God’s innate knowledge of goodness and the capability to create good things. It does seem, however, that the existentialists’ quest for authenticity was rooted in the desire to personally know the true nature of things, rather than just accepting society’s definitions. But how? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”