The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence

The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence

The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence

The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence

Excerpt

Here is a representative collection from writers who have been called "existentialists," or rather from those who, because in one way or another they have sought for the foundations of what we call existence, deserve the name "existentialist."

What is meant by "existence" in this context can be described as follows. Philosophy and science in its older form dealt with natures; their language of both was necessarily general and abstract, and, like the logicians, they delighted when they could show what is necessary. The existentialist wished to restore life to philosophy in so far as he concerns himself with human life as it is lived. He turns the spotlight on the individual in his nakedness--Adam and Eve wandering and lost after they had been cast out of Paradise. For these writers it is not so much a question of what we think as of what we are--our condition of loneliness and our condition, too, of being part of a crowd and face to face with Nature, and forced to live and express ourselves by will. I say "will" because the tendency is to play down the reason or intellect. One group of existentialists emphatically rejects the traditional view that the mind is capable of knowing some truths about reality. These are the extremists. Then there are others, who, in the wake of Kant, despair of making contact by means of reason with what is metempirical. Lastly, there are those who are content to look at what is personal and human and thereby find a new way to wisdom.

The editors of this book, however, have thrown their net wide. They begin with that strange genius, Schelling, who gives a new appetite to those who can read him, and they include passages from others who stand outside the chorus, but help us to understand what has been called the crisis of our day or the "existentialist predicament." Such a collection, bringing together unexpectedly so many diverse geniuses under one theme, is unique, and it should enable readers to gain a far better perspective of the human scene-- man's marching to and fro in the last one hundred and fifty years.

M. C. D'ARCY, S.J.

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