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Existentialist view on human nature - Essay Example

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Existentialist view on human nature

For thousands of years, people have debated whether God exists, and most conclude that it cannot be proven. Karl Barth asserts that God “rules unconditionally and irresistibly in all occurrences. Nature is God’s servant, the instrument of his purposes. God controls, orders, and determines, for ‘nothing can be done except the will of God”. Aquinas argued that “God is impassible, unaffected by the world. Since God knows all events in advance and controls every detail, divine knowledge is unchanging and in, God there is no element of responsiveness”. In this context, an analysis of opinions expressed by different philosophers is paramount in understanding the analogy of self and being, and it is postulated that the correct answer lies in the area of abstract philosophy and the metaphysical. Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts. Danish religious philosopher Soren Aabye Kierkegaard is considered as the founder of existentialism and is remembered for his critique of the systematic rational philosophy of Hegel on the ground that actual life cannot be contained within an abstract conceptual system. Kierkegaard rejected collective thinking, and insisted on the importance of the individuals and resisted the features of Hegel's tendency to mediate all oppositions and to hold out the prospect of complete understanding of god.
Hegel maintained that true understanding can only be attained if one has a comprehension of 'The Absolute', and for Hegel the whole of human history and intellect constitutes a progressive self-realization of this Absolute spirit that takes place through 'dialectic.' (Stevenson, 1987, p.54). He believed that to an extent the mind has not completed its journey toward the absolute, the individual experience alienation, and a strong sense of awareness is essential to accomplish this goal. Hegel's emphasis on self-awareness in establishing self-realization is strongly reflected in existential philosophy.
Marx also adopted the concept of alienation into his thinking, but maintained that such self-estrangement is a product of economic and social factors, and not of a metaphysical relationship. Rene Descartes assumed a dichotomy between thinking substance and extended substance, the ghost in the machine, and faced the problem of how we can have valid knowledge of objects if the only basis for knowledge is intuitive individual self-consciousness. Martin Heidegger believed that the individual and the world are inseparable, and postulated that 'to be' involves existing, and existing involves constant and dynamic change. Although one has no choice regarding some of the circumstances he lives in, these factors determine the context in which one exercises one's freedom and defines his/her existence. The position of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, that the physical world did not transcend consciousness, or of objective or absolute idealism, that the world was an aspect of an absolute mind, has ...Show more


Thomas Aquinas, a priest, professor, and philosopher, influenced centuries of religious and academic thought with his methodical way of harmonizing faith and reason. When the ancient logic of Aristotle was being revived, despite condemnations by the Roman Catholic Church, Aquinas reconciled the two by granting reason its own integrity…
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