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Existentialism Vs. Determinism

Supporters of determinism argue that every event is a necessary action, and every event which follows is invariably a result of the preceding action.

A common misconception on the theory of determinism is that most people think this theory denies free will. It does not deny free will, but rather it rejects the concept. Arthur Schopenhaur attacks the notion of the “will” by calling it irrational and meaningless. He went on further saying that optimism and hope are the “will’s” gift to people so that they continue to deceive themselves. Everything in the phenomenal world is an act of the “will”, thus, the “will” definitely exists. This is the basis of existentialism. In existentialism, existence precedes essence. In other words, humans define their own reality. Soren Kierkegaard focused a lot of his work on the anxious feelings humans have because of their existence. These are feelings that there is no purpose to human existence. Kierkegaard countered this by saying the only way to get around the “nothingness” feeling is to embrace existence.

So then what is the difference between rationalists and existentialists? The latter believe that humans make decisions based on what has meaning to them, not on what is rational. Rationality is considered a form of “bad faith,” which can undermine the meaning of human existence. Most existential philosophers agreed that human beings are subjects in an indifferent and ambiguous world. But there is no natural order. It is instead created by the decisions humans make. This is referred to as “free will.” Schopenhaur himself couldn’t escape the force of the “will,” even though he claimed he triumphed over the “will” by contemplating purely formal music, without words or imagery. However, many philosophers that came after Schopenhaur claimed that the desire to immerse oneself in the music is still the work of the will, proving that there is no escape.

I personally view reality subjectively, and this falls in line with Kierkegaard’s philosophy. He claims that subjective thought helps us order our priorities and refine our values, and redirects us away from so called objective truths.

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