The Challenge of Existentialism

The Challenge of Existentialism

The Challenge of Existentialism

The Challenge of Existentialism

Excerpt

There are many present indications of a serious breakdown in the basic enterprise of philosophy throughout the Anglo-Saxon world. At a time when there is a desperate need for the wide dissemination of sound and appealing cultural aims, academic philosophy at least seems bankrupt. Not only are there no great systematic syntheses with a moving inspiration; there are no great philosophic syntheses. What is the meaning of Western culture as a whole? What are its guiding aims? Great masses of people in the East and in the Middle East are asking these questions, moved by the urgent necessity of critical decision between the East and the West.

Fragments of propaganda and phrases concerning freedom and democracy have been hastily devised. But disciplined and integrated answers are almost entirely lacking. The peoples of the West are themselves in doubt concerning the basic nature of their culture. The demand for adult education is constantly increasing. The need for general education in the humanities, and in those subjects dealing with what are now commonly referred to as "values," is widely recognized. But academic philosophy has so far contributed very little towards the meeting of this need. Hence on many campuses which have felt the recent general-education ferment, philosophy has been left behind to be replaced in the exercise of its integrative function by other disciplines like history, literature, and social science.

Such disciplines, of course, have their place in the curriculum.

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