tion. Mrs. Jenkins obviously had been working for the logicians to arouse insurrection among the three or four Zeno partisans. But suddenly Dr. Walker, who had been a recluse professor for almost twenty years, stood up. With the crowd instantly silenced by his commanding and unexpected rising, he uttered something so incredibly unutterable, so impossible, so unsolvable, that this mass of philosophy started heaving right and left and dying on the spot, blood bursting from their ears in an astounding death agony.
Is it not true that the discussion of the meaning of existentialism has been dying down? or at any rate is being taken more and more for granted, like cynicism, optimism, surrealism, alcoholism, and practically all other well-known topics of conversation?
If so, this is a dangerous state of affairs. For as soon as a philosophy is taken for granted, as soon as its meaning is assumed, then it begins to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Philosophical idealism is a good example. It was once just as fashionable as existentialism and is now generally thought to have to do with those impractical people who believe in ideals and never amount to anything.
I propose a revival of interest in the meaning of existentialism because when everyone asks what something means, the possibilities of misunderstanding are, if not lessened, more controllable. Having studied existentialism in an offhand way since 1935, I become more and more convinced that its meaning can be reduced to the following formulation: Existentialism means that no one else can take a bath for you.
This example is suggested by Heidegger, who points out that no one else can die for you. You must die your own death. But the same is true of taking a bath. And I prefer the bath as an example to death
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Publication information: Book title: Hail to Thee, Okoboji U!A Humor Anthology on Higher Education. Contributors: Mark C. Ebersole - Editor. Publisher: Fordham University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 200.
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