Philosophical Controversies and Methods Article Review

This is a review of an article with the title “Existentialism philosophy”, and the author of this article is Nicola Abbagnano. In this article, the author elaborately discusses the nature and philosophy of existentialism. After a brief historical background of existentialism and its founders, the author also discusses the philosophical and the methodical issues of this existentialism. Thus, this review gives a brief overview of such discussions made by the author in the article. The presented review aims to outline and shed light on the philosophical and opinion differences among different existentialists according to this article and other methodological issues of existentialism.

The author explains existentialism as a concept that describes and interprets human existence and its concreteness. According to the author, this existence is person-specific and relates to an individual’s existence. The article states that existentialism is backed by a common belief that only a concrete thing can exist. This term considers that for a human to be existent, one has to be capable of being conscious that one exists. The author however presents the arguments to this definition and mentions that existentialism has taken diverse and contrasting directions, according to different philosophies of different existentialists. The diversity in philosopher's interest includes diverse concepts like the moral and political concept, the concept of religion, and the metaphysical concept. Due to this diversity of these kinds of sources, the existentialist doctrine explains and focuses on several aspects and concepts of existence. In the view of the author, the existentialism aspect focuses on the problematic character or aspect of an individual’s situation, that a human often encounters diverse alternatives from which he has to choose from and project his life.

The different forms of this existentialism are also differentiated on a language basis. This explains the diversity in cultural traditions from which the various authors come from long, which indicates the differences in terminology among them. For example, the principal existentialists of Germany in the 20th century were Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, representatives of French personalistic existentialism were Gabriel Marcel and Jean-Paul Sartre, that of Spanish existentialism was José Ortega Gasset, for Russian idealistic existentialism was Nikolay Berdyayev and for Italian existentialism was Nicola Abbagnano. Many of these existentialists state that their analyses are based on a wider tradition of philosophy. According to modern existentialism philosophy, human existence is a future projection, for all the forms of existentialism, based on the possibilities that constitute it. The article also talks about the different philosophical approaches of different existentialists which give rise to philosophical issues. The articles state that the term existentialism was first coined by a Danish philosopher and theologist, Soren Kierkegaard who was the first person to use this term in a religious sense. Another philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, explained the importance to know and learn about humanity in its particularity and has given a procedure which is different from that used by science for the purpose of obtaining knowledge about natural objects.

The author says that according to some existentialists like Heidegger and Jaspers the existential has its roots in the past, and every project for the future is merely led back to the past so that only that can be chosen what has already been chosen. Another philosopher Sartre explains that existential choice possibilities are infinite and equivalent, and also the choice between these possibilities is indifferent. In contrast to these philosopher’s concepts of existentialism, the author in this article argues that an individual's situation limits such existential possibilities and also these possibilities do not determine the choice or render it indifferent. The author mentions that the only issue is of individual existence in every concrete situation. 

After mentioning these philosophical differences in opinions of different philosophers and existentialists, the article also talks about the methodological issues. According to the author, the methods that most of the existentialists or philosophers employ to interpret have one common presumption, that there is an immediate relationship between the problem of being and being itself, and between the interpreter and the interpreted. However, each existentialist and philosopher has designed their own method to interpret existence. Jaspers, a philosopher, existentialist and one of the forefathers of psychopathology used the rational clarification of existence method. According to him, existence is a human's effort and involves efforts of rationalizing and self-understanding, and communication. Thus, this methodology of Jasper explains that being oneself and understanding the reasons for it are two poles of human existence.

In view of Sartre, another famous philosopher of medieval France, the methodology of existentialism is existential psychoanalysis. It is the analysis of the fundamental project in which human existence consists. This psychoanalysis tries to understand the original choice of individuals through which they build their world and their decisions about their preliminary way to act upon those particular choices. The author also talks about the methodology of another existentialist Marcel, who mentions that the method of existential philosophy depends on recognizing the mystery of being. The author argues these methodologies of existentialism in this article and represents that existentialist philosophy methodology should consist of analysis and the mention of different methods. According to the author, the method should employ the available techniques, together which also includes techniques of science and those of structures that constitute existence. Such a methodology should be in relation to connecting human beings with other beings. These arguments of the author are convincing and give a clearer and more concrete picture of existentialism philosophy. It talks about a practical approach or method for a better interpretation and understanding.

The existentialism philosophies and philosophical issues have been well-explained by the author Nicola Abbagnanoin this article of existentialism. The article explains the differences in the existence of philosophies of different philosophers. It can be summarised that the basis of all these different philosophies is nothing but concrete existence of human existence, and how each human is confronted upon by different alternatives to choose and lead their life. The article talks about the different philosophies methodology of various existentialists in understanding this existentialism. The arguments presented by the author in this article give a better understanding of existentialism and a more holistic methodology, which is easier to interpret.

References for Existentialism Philosophy and Philosophical Issues

Nicola Abbagnano. 2017. Existentialism philosophy. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/existentialism/Historical-survey-of-existentialism [Accessed on: July 14th, 2020]

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