February 7, 2013

Personal to journalists: Existentialism

Sam Smith - Existentialism is not any old deep philosophical issue. Us existentialists get a bit pissed when we see you lumping us into a category of anything that is too complicated for a news release.

One of the best definitions I've found is: "A philosophical attitude associated especially with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, ... that stresses the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices."

Another is "Even a condemned man has a choice of how to approach the gallows."

It's not a particularly popular concept these days, when post-modernism has us tightly defined by ethnicity, gender, and so forth, but the true existentialist understands that regardless of how you were born, you define yourself by what you say and do. 

A good example of existentialism in practice - which, after all, is the only way it can exist - are the Quakers, weak in dogmatism but strong in action. They are not what they say on Channel 5, but what they do every day. 

Which is one reason I don't pay much attention to inaugural and State of the Union addresses.

I wish there were more existentialists around, but in the meantime could you journalists please stop trashing the term by using it for anything you can't, or don't care to, explain?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are millions and in every walk of life. This is a core value of American civilization built from the old Concord transcendentalists up to today's practitioners of transformational education, diffusing globally.