Existentialism in Waiting for Godot Essay

Existentialism in Waiting for Godot Essay.

Existentialism is a philosophy that repudiates the idea of religion or any ‘supreme’ being bringing meaning to life, and advocates the idea that individuals are instrumental in finding a purpose to life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Hence in Samuel Becket’s existentialist play Waiting For Godot, he puts forth an idea that all of humanity is wasting their lives in inaction- waiting for the salvation of a deity, when that divine being may or may not even exist.

As inferred from the phrase “existence precedes essence”, there is no pre-existent spirituality or soul; no god, Christian or otherwise; no cosmic compassion for human life; no salvation in heaven and damnation in hell; neither preset destiny nor inevitable fate; and nor is there the transcendence of our worldly existence. Everyone must bear the responsibility for their own existence, since it is not predetermined or shaped by any external force; a subsequent anxiety is one of the aspects of human nature.

Nevertheless, the burdens of anxiety and responsibility are often too heavy to bear, and we often seek to shift them on certain individuals, institutions, religions, or even on a ‘Godot’. Existentialism manifests itself in Waiting for Godot through its motifs of despair, absurdity, alienation, and boredom. One of the most prevalent themes is that of loneliness as a consequence of godlessness. In a blank futile universe devoid of purpose, design or care – represented by the featureless Beckettian landscape, human beings are alone, and condemned to be free.

Afraid of this isolation Estragon and Vladimir cling together despite their quarrels, and Pozzo and Lucky do not untie themselves. This futility leads to another characteristic of existentialism: despair. Since there is no preset will, Existentialism preaches the individual freedom of choice. Estragon and Vladimir have made the choice of waiting, without any instruction as Vladimir says that Godot “didn’t say for sure he’d come”. Yet they wait to know exactly how they stand.

The boredom of waiting prompts them to ponder over their identity, as inactivity leads the individual to think. Estragon remarks: “We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression that we exist? It is learnt that man needs a rational basis for existence but fails to find one, making his life no better than a wasted passion. The two tramps, Estragon and Vladimir vainly attempt to put order in their lives by waiting for Godot who never arrives, and reiterate that “Nothing is to be done.

” This inaction further questions their very entities, and Estragon anxiously doubts: “Where do we come in? ” Whenever Estragon and Vladimir make a decision, the stage directions dictate that “They do not move. ” and continue to show passivity. Therefore, even their resolution to go is not strong enough to produce action. Many times Estragon says “Let’s go”, but Vladimir always reminds him that they can’t as they are “waiting for Godot. ”This inability to act renders Vladimir and Estragon unable to determine their own fates.

Instead of acting, they can only wait for someone or something to act upon them- referring to the existentialist argument of man’s desperate need to establish his own purpose and meaning to life. Furthermore, Vladimir and Estragon ponder suicide by hanging themselves from the tree, but once again their anxiety stops them, as the latter remarks: “Don’t let’s do anything. It’s safer. ” Kierkegaard’s notion of ‘Dread’ or ‘Angst’ includes ideas of existentialism which talk about a state in which the individual’s freedom of choice places him in a state of anxiety, as he is surrounded by almost infinite possibilities.

This could explain the inactivity of both the tramps. They are aware of the different choices they can make but are hesitant, just as they decide to leave at the end of the act but remain motionless. Thus, the end of act 1 firmly asserts the characters’ hopelessness. Beckett infers that people pass time with habits to cope with the existentialist dilemma of the dread or anxiety of their existence. Estragon and Vladimir idly pass their time to escape the pain of waiting and even thinking.

Vladimir expresses this idea at the end of the play: “Habit is a great deadener. ” All the events narrated through the course of the play – the Crucifixion story, the suicide plan, playing talk – seem nothing more than silly pastimes. Once during the Pozzo-Lucky encounter, the tramps behave as if they are in a theatre; Vladimir even asks Estragon to keep his seat while going off to the urinal at “The end of the corridor, on the left.

” Pozzo and Lucky’s coming can also well be interpreted as an act to entertain Vladimir and Estragon; a way in which Becket questions whether life itself is just a mere source of entertainment to pass the time while waiting for salvation. However, the distractions end sometime or the other, leaving them again with their futile inaction: “The essential doesn’t change. ” This once again echoes the existentialist theory that life will end in nothingness as it has begun, reducing all of man’s achievements and accomplishments to nothing.

Time has little significance in this futile lifecycle. The past often becomes misty to Estragon as he often asks questions like “What did we do yesterday? ” He does not remember Pozzo and Lucky and even the place in Act Two, and shortly, Pozzo fails to recognize the tramps (Estragon and Vladimir) too. The mysterious boy returns with the same message; Godot never comes and tomorrow never seems to arrive. Vladimir, therefore, is right to say that “time has stopped. ” Estragon conveys the horror of this uneventful repetitive existence in “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful! “.

Existentialism in Waiting for Godot Essay

I Heart Huckabees: Concept of Dasein Essay

I Heart Huckabees: Concept of Dasein Essay.

This is one of my attempts to highlight a few of the connections between the thought provoking scenes of this movie and the Existential movement in 19th and 20th century Philosophy. I do list and describe a few scenes and quotes, so i’ll throw on a SPOILER alert just in case. One of the most prominent concepts in I (Heart) Huckabees is that of Martin Heidegger’s Dasein. Dasein, literally meaning “Being-there”, is Heidegger’s method in which he applies another prominant Existential philospher, Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology to human beings themselves.

What it does is instead of defining a “thing” and putting it into a preconceived category, one waits for the “thing” to reveal itself in its own time. The remarkable thing about Heidegger is that he never calls human beings “man”, but instead we are Dasein – in other words, we are simply in a field of being where we are free to define who we are for ourselves.

Our being Dasein is our “thrownness” into life(a prominant theme to the Existential movement), and we are “thrown” into life with other Dasein(you and I).

This then leads to mitdasein (“with-there-being”), meaning we are still “being-there”(Dasien), but now we are there with other Dasein. I (Heart) Huckabees demonstrates Heidegger’s Dasein and mitdasein multiple times, usually emphasized by Dustin Hoffman’s character, Bernard. In the first few scenes of the movie, Bernard speaks of infinity and “the blanket. ” He holds up a blanket and asks us to imagine that it is the entire universe. Each part of the blanket is a different person, place, or thing; whether it is a hammer, or Paris, or you, the reader of this review.

The point he makes is that everything in the universe is interconnected and we can’t tell where one person begins and another ends. Bernard also tells us, “The universe is an infinite sphere, the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere. ” This is a wonderful example of Heidegger’s Dasein; our being has no outside to speak of, it is totality. The blanket represents mitdasein, demonstrating that we are not alone in our infinite field of being, but instead are accompanied by every other Dasein, all overlapping.

Another of Heidegger’s Existential ideas is tossed about in I (Heart) Huckabees, though not as defined as the illusions to Dasein. When Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) and Albert (Jason Schwartzman), meet the French nihilist, Caterine (Isabelle Huppert), she introduces Heidegger’s concept of authenticity and inauthenticity. In the scene, Caterine has Tommy and Albert repeatedly bash each other in the face with a large ball; they continue to hit one another until the one being beaten ceases to think for a brief period. They have discovered what Caterine calls “Pure Being.

” In ceasing to think, Albert and Tommy are allowed to simply be free to exist (Dasein, again), but they are soon pulled back in their minds, which Caterine names human drama. Though they think they can teach themselves to stay in a state of “Pure Being” all the time, Caterine explains that it will always be a cycle, going from “Pure Being” to human drama and back again. According to Heidegger, before we realize our selves, we are in a state of Verfallenheit, or “fallen-ness. ” In this state, we are slaves to what Heidegger calls the One (“human drama”), or rather the public life.

We are part of this public creature and we are categorized for being as such. This constricts us as Dasein and doesn’t allow us to realize our full potential. It is during this state of Verfallenheit, and being part of the One, that we are inauthentic. We are not being true to ourselves as Dasein, and therefore not allowing ourselves to rise to the level of existence we need to reach. It is only when we break free from the One and enter the level of Self that we become authentic, true selves.

Heidegger understands, however, that sometimes we are pulled back into Verfallenheit, and must then go back through the One, or human drama as Caterine puts it, and back into the level of self. As Heidegger explains our cycle of inauthenticity and authenticity, Caterine explains much the same thing in her description of the cycle between “Pure Being” and human drama. Another I (Heart) Huckabees scene with high existential fiber is the short poem about a rock which Albert has written for his “open spaces” campaign: “Nobody sits like this rock sits. You rock, rock. The rock just sits and is.

You show us how to just sit here… and that’s what we need. ” The poem brings to light the term Being-for-itself (etre pour soi), which is most closely associated with famous Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Because of our consciousness, this term is most often applied to human beings and states that we are always beyond ourselves, thinking thoughts of ourselves, obsessively thinking of our pasts and futures, etc. This causes alot of pain and suffering for human kind – causing us to view ourselves in the future or judge ourselves according to the past – failing to be in the present moment, in the NOW.

Unlike the rock which is always in the present moment, or, “being-in-itself”, Sartre believes that we can never possess ourselves fully. We can posses the rock, however, because it is a thing. The rock is not conscious, it is what it is at all moments… but this is something impossible for humans because of our capability to go beyond ourselves in consciousness. In the final scene of the movie, Albert and Tommy are sitting on the rock and Albert claims that “The interconnection thing is definitely for real.

” Heidegger would smile at Albert’s newfound discovery of mitdasein, that we are not alone in our infinite field of being, but instead are accompanied by all others. “Everything is the same, even if it’s different. ” In this closing scene, in the same place as when the movie opened, seeing them both there on the rock made it hard not to think of the characters Vladimir and Estragon from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a famous Existential play in which two men wait endlessly in the middle of nowhere for a man named “Godot”. The Existentialism that gave birth to many of the scenes in the movie, I believe to be numerous.

I have only touched upon a fraction of these. For example, two very famous philosophers – Friedrich Nietzsche and Soren Kierkegaard – can be seen as represented by the characters of Caterine and Bernard. Nietzsche, most well known for his claim that “God is dead”, may very well be an incarnation in the philosophy shown by Caterine. Kierkegaard on the other hand, who believed that God is not dead, but trully being faithful requires a “leap of faith”, is brought alive in the enlightening and “soft” teachings of Bernard and his wife.

I wont go into further detail about the works of these two men, but encourage anyone interested to read deeper into their two philosophies… you will certainly find more connections between the movie and the Existential movement. I hope this has helped share some light on those both perplexed by the movie and those interested in knowing the deeper historical and philosophical aspect of I (Heart) Huckabees. If you take some time to educate yourself on the background of Existentialism, you may find that I (Heart) Huckabees prooves to be a totally different experience when viewed a second time around.

I Heart Huckabees: Concept of Dasein Essay

Existentialism vs. Naturalism in Native Son Essay

Existentialism vs. Naturalism in Native Son Essay.

When I was recently suffering from the dreaded sweet tooth syndrome, I hadn’t the slightest clue that the result would lead to a personal and universal philosophical debate worthy of comparison to Richard Wright’s Native Son. I found a bag of Dove milk chocolates in my cupboard, and proceeded to snack mindlessly. If you have ever had a Dove chocolate bar, you may know that the foil wrappers include adorable anecdotes, encouraging you to “take a well-deserved bubble bath”, or reminding you that “when two hearts race, both win”.

After merely two chocolates (I swear), I came across a wrapper that I found somewhat hysterical in nature.

“Follow your instincts,” it beckoned, and I wanted to laugh out loud. What did this even mean? I began to think about the novel I was reading, Native Son. The main character, Bigger Thomas, was somewhat of a slave to his instincts. But were they even his? And thus, my own curiosity over existentialism and naturalism began.

Though Richard Wright’s Native Son encompasses several traditional values of existentialism, the style and themes presented are primarily a reflection of the naturalistic movement in philosophy and literature.

The philosophical studies of human beings, existentialism and naturalism, share a vital amount of similarities. But the distinctions between the two must be emphasized in order to better comprehend which style Richard Wright employed. Upon dissecting the style, themes, plot, and characters in Native Son, it is clear that naturalism was the predominant philosophical approach. Existentialism has been defined as a philosophical movement or tendency, accentuating individual existence, freedom and choice.

The existentialists conclude that human choice is subjective, because individuals finally must make their own choices without help from such external standards as laws, ethical rules, or traditions. Life’s events are not predetermined, but rather are a series of moments. “Human existence, then, cannot be thought through categories appropriate to things: substance, event, process. There is something of an internal distinction in existence that undermines such attempts, a distinction that existential philosophers try to capture in the categories of ‘facticity’ and ‘transcendence.

’ To be is to co-ordinate these opposed moments in some way, and who I am, my essence, is nothing but my manner of co-ordinating them,” according to “Existentialism as Philosophy”. Because individuals make their own choices, they are free, but because they freely choose, they are completely responsible for their choices. The existentialists emphasize that freedom is necessarily accompanied by responsibility. Furthermore, since individuals are forced to choose for themselves, they have their freedom—and therefore their responsibility —thrust upon them.

They are “condemned to be free. ” “The term naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings,” says Donna M. Campbell in “Naturalism in American Literature”. Naturalism is more of a philosophical study than literary technique. Naturalistic writers regard human behavior as controlled by instinct, emotion, or social and economic conditions, and reject free will, adopting instead, in large measure, the biological determinism of Charles Darwin and the economic determinism of Karl Marx.

Naturalism in literature is, in essence, an approach that proceeds from an analysis of reality in terms of natural forces like heredity, environment, and physical drives. Naturalism has its roots in the renaissance, its backgrounds in the Middle Ages. Authors in the Naturalist movement tended to deal with the harsh aspects of life. The subject matter in naturalist works differs from realism in that it often deals with those raw and unpleasant experiences which reduce characters to shameful behavior in their struggle to survive. These characters are mostly from the lower middle or the lower classes.

They are poor, uneducated, and unsophisticated. Naturalism and Existentialism have several similarities. Both philosophical means of studying human nature “belongs to intellectual history”. They strive to bring a strong sense of objectivity and “coldness” to their studies. They are based upon reasoning and logic, and want to see human beings scientifically. The key difference between naturalism and existentialism is the exercise of free will, and the individual’s ability to find meaning in their life. Naturalist perspective argues that humans cannot dictate their own lives.

Their belief is that an individual’s life is determined by its environment, heredity, circumstances, and so forth, whereas existentialists are based upon the concept of the individual acting out of free will. The purpose of life is to reject outside authorities or impacts on one’s life. Therefore the essential question referring to Native Son is; does Bigger take control of his own life, or is his life established by his surrounding circumstances? The plot of Native Son contains examples of both existentialism (arguably) and naturalism. Primary models of existentialism would be the Bigger’s murders of Mary Dalton and Bessie.

His reaction is not one of regret, but one of euphoria; “He had done this. He had brought all this about. In all of his life these two murders were the most meaningful things that had ever happened to him. ” Bigger’s possibilities have always been stunted by racism, but after these murderous acts, he is “free” to act (and to live with the consequences of these actions) for the first time. Even though these consequences ultimately mean flight and imprisonment, this feeling of self-assertion and personal control nonetheless remains liberating and intoxicating for Bigger.

This action brought Bigger “outside his family now, over and beyond them”. Other important existentialist passages surround the mother figures in Bigger’s life. The first is his mother, who sings a spiritual song early in the story. Bigger becomes annoyed with this, showing his need to move past religious authority to find his own meaning. The rejection of religion is a very common feature of existentialism, particularly for philosophers such as Sartre and Nietzche. Nietzsche proclaimed “Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

” Sartre elaborates on this bold statement by saying that “nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we shall rediscover the same norms of honesty, progress and humanity, and we shall have disposed of God as an out-of-date hypothesis which will die away quietly of itself. ” The second instance is Mrs. Dalton, who he somewhat compares to his mother. In their conversation in the Daltons’ kitchen, Bigger notices that Mrs. Dalton seems to want him to do “the things she felt that he should have wanted to do,” rather than the things his mother imposes upon him.

Despite his dislike towards Mrs. Dalton, she gets Bigger to start thinking about his own desires, and how he wants to live. Naturalism, on the other hand, makes up quite a majority of the book. Bigger, whom the focus revolves around, is a naturalist character. He fits all of the technical traits of a naturalistic “hero”; they are “Frequently but not invariably ill-educated or lower-class characters whose lives are governed by the forces of heredity, instinct, and passion. ” Even Bigger’s actions that give him a sense of meaning by going against the norm are cases of him following instincts.

And his instincts are based off of passions that are determined by his environment and past. For example, Bigger often feels enraged, ashamed, and fearful. All of these emotions come as a result of him feeling as though he is overstepping a social boundary, or he thinks he is being mocked for his race or social status. “The moment a situation became so that it excited something in him, he rebelled. That was the way he lived; he passed his days trying to defeat or gratify powerful impulses in a world he feared.

” When he stifled these feelings, he was playing into his surroundings, and when he acted upon them, he was a product of his environment. The primary tone and style in which the novel was written reflects naturalist ideals. While reading Native Son, I felt an eerie detachment from the story and the characters. It is not entirely cold, but the style effectively forces the reader to realize that this is a unique type of hero. Through a methodical examination of the human nature of the story, it accomplishes a naturalistic way of making the reader come to this conclusion.

“Today Bigger Thomas and that mob are strangers, yet they hate. They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces. ” This examination of human beings displays a very scientific approach to cause-and-effect instances in human nature, as well as the inability to exercise free will over circumstances. In Wright’s essay, “How Bigger was Born”, he discusses Bigger as chiefly a combination of many real relationships and political metaphors.

“Bigger’s relationship with white America, both North and South,…I had to depict,…I had to make known once again, alas; a relationship whose effects are carried by every Negro, like scars, somewhere in his body and mind. ” Because Native Son is Bigger’s story, and Bigger is a naturalist human being, the novel is naturalistic as well. Any example of existentialism can be argued as yet another result of Bigger’s lifelong struggles. The “instincts” Bigger followed, whether or not dictated by a chocolate wrapper, were essentially naturalistic.

Works Cited •http://www. crsd. org/505208273510200/lib/505208273510200/Existentialism_Overview. doc •http://static. dpsk12. org/gems/dsa/SartreonExistentialism. doc •http://www. tameri. com/csw/exist/exist. html •Campbell, Donna M. “Naturalism in American Literature. ” Literary Movements. . •http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/naturalism/ •Nietzsche, Friedrich. “God is Dead”. •http://static. dpsk12. org/gems/dsa/HowBiggerWasBorn. doc •http://static. dpsk12. org/gems/dsa/NaturalismAmerLit. doc.

Existentialism vs. Naturalism in Native Son Essay

An Argument of Existentialism in ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka Essay

An Argument of Existentialism in ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka Essay.

Argument: A person’s will to live is strongly linked to the opinions of loved ones have of that person. While some persons allow the will of their lives to become influenced to the opinions of their loved ones, others do not forget to factor the ideals of human existentialism. In order to appropriately approach the point brought across, one must factor in the underlying tone of the existentialist values of ‘The Metamorphosis’ as written by Frank Kafka.

Although many existentialist philosophers hold conflicting values across the board, there are many key traits that follow existentialism.

Therefore, I am inclined to, due to my level of understanding remain impartial towards both sides of the argued statement. Humans, as sentient beings, have free will and are responsible for the effects of what they decide to do. Existentialism also rejects the concept of ‘human nature’, a generalization that has become popular in attempting to identify objective external truths rather than the subjective for the individual approach.

Thirdly, I say this because existentialism shows the indifference of the world towards us. Firstly, we all possess free will as independent entities apart from our society. As Gregor is dehumanized by his transformation, his family quickly deserts and rejects him of his former place in the household. The transformation can be seen as dehumanization as Gregor loses his human aspects to his self-sacrificial working ethic due to his family’s wages. One must make the balance between himself and society.

When Gregor chooses work over himself, he quickly loses his humanity, hence, the transformation. Although being alienated from his family through his dehumanization causes him to ultimately lose his will for life, Gregor is yet a prime example of how free will creates a ‘cause and effect’ ripple due to the individual which is not influenced by another’s opinion but one’s subjective tastes. Additionally, a generalization cannot be approached for this situation.

Existentialism as whole, strives to reject the idea of a human nature obtained by the external objective truths that cannot be applied to the subjunctive self. Instead, humans are radically liberated by their free will in order to shape their own life and defy any generalized ‘nature’. This is not seen in Gregor’s life or in Kafka’s novel. Irregardless, the existentialist value must be factored in an argued due to the underlying tone of the philosophy throughout the novel.

Moreover, this approach dictates the world’s indifferent existence towards human beings. As possibly symbolized by Kafka where the household represents society’s indifference to its people, the Samsa family never cared for Gregor as the universe does to society. The absurdist branch of existentialism is then clearly revealed throughout the novel. The absurd nature of the novel highlights Gregor’s quest for purpose, for which he has lost due to the world’s indifference.

It can only be here that existentialism can justify as an appropriate response. However, for some, this might not be a worthwhile approach due to the subjective nature of the mind. In conclusion, I remain indifferent to both sides due to the inability of existentialism to pinpoint whether or not this is appropriate. Human beings have free will, and this philosophy rejects the ideal of the objective truths of ‘human nature’. The will may be affected by absurdist, but infinitely varying across the board.

An Argument of Existentialism in ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka Essay

Existentialism in Demian and Crime and Punishment Essay

Existentialism in Demian and Crime and Punishment Essay.

Existentialism is fairly common in literature, despite being a relatively new school of thought, and both Demian and Crime and Punishment show existentialist traits. This gives each book not just a philosophy, but also a certain feeling and mindset. Existentialism starts that with the idea that existence precedes essence, or purpose. We come into this world without a purpose, and we simply exist. Our task is to find a purpose. The world around us is an alien chaos, a circus that we stumble through, trying to find a meaning for our life.

In Demian, it is clear that Sinclair does not know his purpose.

His struggle is to find out what it is. Jean-Paul Sartre says, “Life has no meaning a priori? it’s up to you to give it a meaning. ” Hesse declares that “[e]ach man had only one genuine vocation? to find the way to himself?. His task was to discover his own destiny” (Hesse, 132). It is clear, then, that we come into the world with nothing, no purpose at all.

The only genuine task we have is to figure out what we are going to do here. According to Existentialism, no one can find it for you, and, similarly, no doctrine or philosophy can find it for you. Sinclair learns these same lessons.

Demian pulls Sinclair away from mainstream religion early in the story, saying that the division of good and evil has no real meaning. Later, Pistorius tries to teach Sinclair about myriad past religions, but Sinclair rejects him, feeling that he should try to come up with something original instead. Throughout the story, Sinclair engages in different mentor-pupil relationships (like his relationships with Demian and Pistorius) but eventually he shrugs those off, taking his friends’ wisdom with him and facing the world alone. That is what everyone must do, eventually?

face the world alone. And alone is exactly how we feel, as we stumble through this circus of a world. Sinclair spends most of his time not just feeling but also being by himself, adrift. When he leaves his family and his sisters, it does not affect him much, if at all, he is so isolated. He connects only with a precious few people, and never for very long. He somehow distances himself from his peers. Even when he was partying and drinking a lot, he found a way to separate himself from them. In that case, it was the role of sex in his life. Demian is a story about one man’s journey.

The reader never really learns the story of any other character, not even Demian himself, who remains something of an enigma to the very end. This puts the story in an existentialist mindset. Sinclair is drifting through a swirling, gray mass of humanity. Alone is also how we must act. Jean-Paul Sartre says, “It is only in our decisions that we are important,” and, “We must act out passions before we can feel it. ” This pretty closely mirrors the sentiment presented when Pistorius says, “[Y]ou can’t consider prohibited anything that the soul desires” (Hesse, 116).

It is only when we make our own decisions and act for ourselves that what we do has meaning. Hesse puts the existentialist framework to work for him by using it to highlight the need for independence and spiritual self-reliance. Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, uses the mindset to facilitate Raskolnikov’s downward mental spiral, highlight his aloofness, and pull the story along. The world of St. Petersburg is, without a doubt, a strange and hostile place for Raskolnikov. He stumbles along and things constantly happen around him. He repeatedly wakes up with people in his room.

He sees things in the street, such as the drunken rape victim early in the story, or a prone Marmeladov, that cause him to lose his cool. More and more, he finds himself doing crazy things without regard for logic or even common sense. People in this world confound him. He has no idea what they are up to, and he is constantly paranoid that people are plotting against him. His guilty, delirious inner world combines with the crazy, chaotic outer world to make Raskolnikov into a raging, feverish, maniac. He is not just any raging, feverish, maniac, though. He is an aloof raging, feverish, maniac.

He considers himself better than those around him, and his superior mentality drives his antisocial behavior. His antisocial behavior, in turn, gives the character and story a feeling of being alone. Not only is the world crazy, but also Raskolnikov is separated from it and everyone in it, at least until the very end of the book. He is isolated, so much so that at times he can “feel it clearly with every fiber of his being that he could never again address these people” (Dostoyevsky, 122). Finally, Dostoyevsky uses this chaotic world to drive his story along.

Things are constantly happening by coincidence, and Dostoyevsky moves the plot forwards at a dizzying pace, forcing Raskolnikov to act. It is fantastic that Raskolnikov should happen upon Marmeladov soon after he is injured, and that Raskolnikov should overhear people discussing the very same murder that is on his mind, and that someone should eavesdrop on him and hear his confession. The frenzied plot makes it much easier for both Raskolnikov and the reader to slip into a mania, which is surely Dostoyevsky’s aim. The philosophy of existentialism, too, plays a part in Crime and Punishment.

Sartre says that the only true goal of our lives is that which we set for ourselves. Raskolnikov, through the main portion of the story, has no clear goal. He wavers between wanting to turn himself in and trying to avoid suspicion. Sartre says, “Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that [he has] no other aim than the one he sets himself,” and it is clear that Raskolnikov’s will is pretty much useless. He can effect no real change in either himself or in his surroundings until he finally picks a goal and follows through with it.

His personal development is completely halted during his entire spell of indecision. Only in the epilogue do we see him begin to change, begin to forsake his philosophy of the superman, find happiness, and fall in love. The philosophy of existentialism was around long before anyone gave a name to it, as is evidenced by Dostoyevsky’s St. Petersburg, the perfect example of an existentialist world. Both Dostoyevsky and Hesse use existentialist ideas help them express their points. Andrew Holbrook, 2006.

Existentialism in Demian and Crime and Punishment Essay

Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Essay

Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Essay.

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Albert Camus’ The Outsider, both feature protagonists in situations out of which arise existentialist values. 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. In The Metamorphosis the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, realizes his existentialism towards the end of the novella.

In contrast, Monsieur Meursault, the protagonist in The Outsider, knows of his existentialism, only realizing his life’s lack of meaning moments after he is sentenced to death.

Despite the somewhat absurd nature of The Metamorphosis, and the realistic nature of The Outsider, similar values are communicated to the reader. The easiest to pick out being that it is up to the individual to create his/her own life, and that the inhuman behaviour presented by both protagonists will eventually lead to very bad things; namely death in both novellas.

These deaths are, however, very different, as are the methods through which Kafka and Camus have made each novel nothing but `a philosophy put into images’. Meursault (the narrator) in The Stranger only sees and only wants to see the absolute truth in society. The reader’s first encounter with him… Mama died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours. ” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday. … immediately gives an impression of a lack of emotion towards the demise of his mother.

This lack of emotion highlights the existentialist ideal that we all die, so it doesn’t matter what life we have while we are alive. We simply exist, as did Meursault. It becomes apparent, as the novella unfolds, that Meursault has acquired an animal like indifference towards society. His interactions with his neighbour Raymond are an example of his indifferences. It never dawns upon Meursault that society does not condone his interactions with the pimp, avoided by his community. Meursault simply acts to fill his time.

Being a single man, he has a lot of time to fill, and finds the weekends passing particularly slowly. While the scene passes slowly before Meursault, Camus’ text flows quickly. He uses short sharp sentences to convey an atmosphere devoid of emotion or feeling. This is especially effective between pages 21 and 24, at the end of chapter two, when Meursault is giving a descriptive narrative of the life outside his window on a typical Sunday. He ends the chapter saying `… one more Sunday was over… nothing had changed. ‘ Existentialism is present in nearly all of Meursault’s interactions with society.

One such piece of evidence supporting Meursault’s existentialism is his interaction with Marie. His association is merely sexual and physical. Meursault uses Marie to help him pass his time: he spends an entire Saturday with her. When questioned about love and marriage, Meursault’s replies show indifference through their nothingness. Meursault is existentialist to the extent that he couldn’t care less about the path his life (or lack of one) takes. The reader is constantly bombarded with short phrases revealing ever more Meursault’s worthless outlook on a worthless existence.

Examples of this come in the form of Meursault confining himself to only one room in his apartment, his ignorance to social expectations, his mindless identification with old Salamano and his dog, and most importantly his disregard for human life and the consequences for the removal of it. As mentioned in the above definition of existentialism, it stresses the responsibility for ones own actions. When Meursault comes to trial for killing the Arab, he finally realises that he can’t take the responsibility. This is the main turning point as far as existentialism is concerned in The Outsider.

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is equally as philosophical. The novella is written as a metaphor, with a very strong sense of vivid realism. The metaphor is for any situation in which someone tries to break free form a social norm, only to fall; failing to convince the society that his/her action is just. The protagonist, Gregor Samsa, brought society against him when he questioned his life as a travelling salesperson. Social expectations had put him in his place, but he decided, although the reader may assume quite subconsciously, that it was not the place for him.

His wish to remove all social burdens from his shoulders is first illustrated to him through his transformation into a `monstrous vermin. ‘ The protagonist was the narrator in The Outsider, a man who told the story of his demise from existentialism, only to find he needed a life just before his chances were taken away. The Metamorphosis, on the other hand, is narrated on the third person, where the reader receives an unbiased view of Gregor Samsa’s attempts to become existentialist.

Where Camus used short `to the point’ statements to show existentialism, Kafka has filled his novella with colourful descriptive literal language, in an attempt to point out the depth in any situation, such as Gregor’s many squirming legs, his visualisation of his room becoming ever smaller and ever more bland, and the descriptive nature with which the fatal apple becomes lodged in Gregor’s back and eventually allows him to die. The Outsider’s Meursault is existentialist, finding a need for a meaning to life only when his is about to be taken.

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa, on the other hand, has a meaning to his life, and wishes it away. The gradual move towards existentialism in Kafka’s novella runs throughout, from the moment Gregor wakes up as a bug; until the moment he breaths no more. Gregor shows that he knows his life has meaning when at the beginning of the novella he is more concerned about how he will fulfil his social purpose than what he will do about being a bug. Albert Camus said that `we get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.

In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead. ?In The Metamorphosis, Gregor thinks about his position, throwing his body into dismay, eventually leading to his death. As Gregor is further shunned by society for not conforming, represented in the novella quite dramatically by Gregor being a dung beetle among humans, he starts to forget any shred of meaning his life can have. He searches beyond his room for a meaning to life, but the further he ponders, the harder society hits him.

`You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. ?Gregor realized his existentialism taking him over, as he gave his life to the destiny he had for it created. Having read both novellas, a reader could come to the conclusion that both feature a definite theme of existentialism, while The Outsider is centred on a protagonist who recognises the need to change from existentialism, and The Metamorphosis around one that recognises existentialism’s presence in society.

At the end of each, the protagonist either dies or is awaiting death. The deaths are brought about by a destiny the Meursault thought he couldn’t change, and Gregor brought upon himself. Meursault realised too late that he wouldn’t be able to take responsibility for his actions. It was only when he was forced by the trial to delve into his memory (something that he had little use for as an existentialist) that he recognised how he had shaped his own end. Life did have meaning to him then, and his was: … only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

Gregor Samsa allowed his life to end upon realising that he was free from society, but also that existentialism rendered him useless. Before his death, his `indifference to everything was much too deep for him to have gotten on his back and scrubbed himself clean… ?From Gregor’s point of view, Franz Kafka was correct in saying `A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. ‘ The end of The Outsider sees a man ready to start again, but ready too late.

The conclusion of The Metamorphosis, however, serves not only to allow the Samsa family a chance to start again, but also to highlight that even following Gregor’s horrific ordeal his family will put Gregor’s sister through the same process that lead Gregor to his death. Gregor’s sister’s life is given a meaning, and the reader often hopes that she recognises it and respects it. The Metamorphosis highlights that one must engage in social interaction to have a meaning in life, while portraying the grim hopelessness of a life determined by social interaction.

The Outsider, on the other hand, follows an idea that quietly not conforming will only hurt oneself. An existentialist might argue that to hurt oneself would not matter, in hurting oneself (especially the way in which Meursault did by killing the Arab); one is giving one’s life a meaning. Even if that meaning is sufferance, the agony will still end one day, as it is destined to, removing all meaning from all life. The two novellas give an honest outline of existentialism, and give, in both cases, existentialism the negative property that it leads to death.

The authors were both highly regarded by their respective peers. Camus was existentialist, and Camus referred to Kafka as an absurdist-existentialist. Both have produced works bringing to light the grim reality of existentialism, yet neither has created an advertisement for it. It could even be said that the novellas where written to give meaning to the lives of the authors, and to stop society taking the roads of the protagonists. After all, who wants their indifference to change only when they’re threatened with lawful murder? And who wants to die a worthless bug? words:1668.

Existentialism in Camus and Kafka Essay

Andy Warhol’s Dracula Painting Essay

Andy Warhol’s Dracula Painting Essay.

Understanding the artwork of Andy Warhol is something akin to figuring out a Zen riddle. That is, and people will look for something extraordinary when all they need to do is understand the simplicity of what they are viewing. Andy Warhol’s concept of pop art involved taking the very common images in presenting them in such a way that the commonality was elevated. But can you really elevate something that is common? Apparently so; Warhol did this quite effectively in his earlier works.

However, in later years, Warhol’s work started to look a little tired.

Perhaps the novelty of pop art was wearing off and Warhol’s creativity had stretched thin. There were, however, some interesting pieces of art produced by Warhol in the last decade of his life. This return to inspired creativity is evident in 1981’s painting Dracula , one of his most underrated works. What was the inspiration for the Dracula painting? Was it Bram Stoker’s novel? Was it the classic Bela Lougosi interpretation? Was it the popular play passion of Dracula that proved very successful at the time?

To a degree, they may have all had their influences in prompting Warhol to use Dracula as subject matter.

But, do not let be fooled: Warhol was probably very influenced by a film he produced entitled blood for Dracula . blood for Dracula was an odd dark, tragic satire that saw the aging Count travel to the Catholic country of Italy to find virgin blood. Unless he can find such a victim, he will (finally) die of old age. Of course, his search for a virgin proves fruitless and his days are numbered.

While the obvious satire of morality is evident, not so evident is the notion that Dracula represents the old world of the aristocracy. Dracula remains the last of the aristocrats having seen the world he previously knew disappearing to the expansion of Marxism. It is this same subtle theme that is also present in the Dracula painting and that is what makes it so striking. With fangs bared, cape cowl turned upwards, and eyes wide open it would seem that this is a frightening picture of Dracula.

Upon close examination, it really isn’t. Yes, in a previous generation the image of Dracula recreated by Warhol would be considered terrifying. However, by 1981, said to image really is – for lack of a better word – corny. Economic woes, foreign policy strife, and social upheaval had driven horror movies to become more violent and more graphic. The classic monsters simply became a casualty of the era. They were no longer frightening. And, as the painting infers, Dracula knows this.

If you look closely into the eyes of Dracula (in the painting) you will notice decidedly out of place emotions. The eyes simply do not appear menacing or frightening. Actually, they appear more confused than anything else. They are wide open and “glassey” and seemingly have a dual expression of shock and boredom. Perhaps Dracula is shocked that he is no longer frightening. Or, perhaps, he is simply bored of his role as King of the Vampires. Either way, this would indicate a character that understands time has passed him by.

This is clearly not the Count Dracula of bygone eras. This is a crucial point because it is this “past him prime” appearance that Warhol apparently wanted to capture. This is interesting since he opts not to elevate a character from pop culture; but, instead, decides to deconstruct one. In a way, there is a melancholy sadness found in Warhol’s Dracula painting. This would seem to make sense, however, since the true role of pop art is to depict things as we really see them. In 1981, we were no longer looking at Dracula as a character as much as a tired caricature.

Andy Warhol’s Dracula Painting Essay

English Written Task Essay

English Written Task Essay.

Prescribed question: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? Title of the text for analysis: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe Part of the course to which the task refers: Part 3: Literature – text and context Key Points:

• Define masculinity in Okonkwo’s viewpoint
• Explore how Okonkwo never shows his emotions because of fear • Describe the struggle of Okonkwo’s strength
• Discuss the importance of Okonkwo’s reputation of Umuofia • Explain why Okonkwo emphasized on his masculinity

Critical Response

In Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, interpretations of masculinity were challenged.

Masculinity commonly means the characteristics related to men. Okonkwo, a strong wrestler and leader, had his own attributes of what manliness was. According to Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity, men were presented as strong. Anything that did not demonstrate strength was considered as weak, which was not in his definition of masculinity. While masculinity meant having qualities of a man, Okonkwo was represented to show how he perceived a man truly defined through the factor of fear and why he displayed manliness in this approach.

Okonkwo was afraid of showing emotions, because revealing any sentiments showed flaws. Okonkwo liked Ikemefuna and treated him as if he was his own son.

However, Okonkwo did not show any emotions towards Ikemefuna. He thought showing affection was a sign of weakness. Due to his fear of imperfection, Okonkwo felt the emotions inwardly. The only real emotion he ever brought to life was anger. “The only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” (Achebe, 1994, p. 28) Showing emotions such as happiness or sadness was a portrayal of tenderness, which Okonkwo hated. If Okonkwo showed any emotion at all, it would be evidence that he was weak. In one scenario, Okonkwo had to choose his reputation of a strong male authority or his devotion to Ikemefuna, the one he thought of to be his son. This huge struggle to prove Okonkwo’s strength was questioned when he was forced to kill Ikemefuna. Okonkwo killed Ikemefuna when Ogbuefi Ezeudu ordered him to not touch the boy. (Achebe, 1994, p. 57) The man cleared his throat, drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow.

He heard Ikemefuna cry ‘my father, they have killed me!’ as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak. (Achebe, 1994, p. 61) Okonkwo was afraid people would think that if he did not kill Ikemefuna, whom he loved, he would seem weak. His character to show others that he was not weak was a greater importance than his attachment for the boy. He wanted to be brave and keep his reputation as a wrestler and a leader of Umuofia. There was one instance that Okonkwo went against his definition of being manly. This showed the vulnerability of Okonkwo, which showed why he was afraid of being weak.

Okonkwo became depressed after the death of Ikemefuna. He did not sleep and did not eat any food. (Achebe, 1994, p. 63) Okonkwo was compared to a “shivering old woman,” (Achebe, 1994, p. 65) showing that only woman showed their emotions. If a man could not get over the death of someone he loves, he was nothing more than a woman, who was generally the one that mourned the death of another. Being depressed over a death was a sign of gentleness, which Okonkwo did not desire. Shivering implies weakness because when people shiver, they shake, are unstable, and are not usually strong enough to hold themselves together. So, Okonkwo could not control himself in this situation.

It also showed fear and a loss of composure, two things that a man should never express. The use of the word ‘old’ also showed how fragile he was becoming in this instance. It was a similar idea when Okonkwo thought he was old because old people in general were weak; as people get older, their heart and muscles were degenerated, so the quality was not durable. There was a reason why Okonkwo emphasized his masculinity. Okonkwo’s father, Unoka, was poor, weak, lazy, a failure and a coward. Unoka was in a lot of debt. He loved gentleness and idleness. He did not like the sight of blood. (Achebe, 1994, p. 6) In contrast, Okonkwo entered upon to be strong and hardworking, not wanting to be gentle or idle. The strong wrestler was not scared of blood at any moment, showing he was a strong individual that can deal with death of others. (Achebe, 1994, p. 67)

From then on, Okonkwo wanted to show Umuofia that he was not similar to his father in any way; he wanted to be better than his father because he did not want to be known as a son of a borrower who did not give money back to the lender. As a result, Okonkwo worked to not be a failure like his father. He changed how he behaved as a man to be successful. (Achebe, 1994, p. 4) Okonkwo worked hard to have a title in Umuofia and to supply money for his family.

Masculinity was shown in the fear of weakness because Okonkwo represented masculinity through his behavior. Masculinity was depicted in Okwonko’s fear of weakness. In some parts of this novel, Achebe showed the reader the wrong ways to be a man by showing what was weak, causing the readers to believe the complete opposite of how a man should truly act. Okonkwo was afraid of being weak because it would directly contradict his idea of how he should act as a man. He strived for strength and power. By showing his aversion of weakness to the readers, it gave Okonkwo’s definition of masculinity. Okonkwo viewed masculinity as strength, bravery, successful, and feelings of anger.

Works Cited

Achebe, C. (1994). Things fall apart. New York: Anchor Books.

English Written Task Essay

Hamlet (Free Will) Essay

Hamlet (Free Will) Essay.

Your father dies, you are left with emptiness and many things to ponder, months later a ghost appears and he delivers insane news about your uncle that makes you want to kill him; you have just entered the mind of Hamlet. When listening to superstitious people or relying on intangible objects to predict a future outcome, this raises the question of whether we are living by free will or forces larger than ourselves. In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, The Ghost is a character that does not spend much time on stage but has a very meaningful position in the play.

When coming to the conclusion of whether or not Hamlet lives by free will, or controlled forces larger than him; we must analyze the concept of being responsible for our own actions, whether God controls what happens, and if Hamlet is actually controlled by other forces larger than him. As we grow older, we are taught to be responsible for our own actions.

We are told that there is no one to blame but ourselves when we make a mistake. Hamlet is a tragedy; in a tragedy, the hero has to possess a tragic flaw. Tragic heroes are not supposed to be driven by outside forces, but they must already possess the flaw within themselves.

It can be inferred that Hamlet’s flaw is indecisiveness. He could not decide what to believe for himself, therefore, this causes him to make poor decisions. Hamlet had many plans which are executed in a bad way; no one is responsible for that, but himself. Hamlet says, “To be, or not to be, that is the question:/whether’ tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/ And by opposing end them. To die to sleep-/no more; and by a sleep to say we end/…” (3. 1. 56-61).

This soliloquy portrays one of the many times within the story where Hamlet has no idea what he wants to do with the situations placed before him. He debated his actions and this proves that he is the only person responsible for his decisions. It is easy for the reader to believe that the larger force could be God as well. There are parts in the play where Christianity is relevant, which could make the reader believe that the larger force is God. Everything happens for a reason; though, at many times people are clueless as to what the reason may be.

Everyone has a conscious; we constantly carry the angel of good on one shoulder, and bad on the other. “Not a whit, we defy augury. There is special providence in a fall of a/ sparrow. If it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come…” (5. 2. 185-187). In this quote, Hamlet expresses that God controls everything, even the sparrow’s death. This goes with the saying; there is a time and place for everything. If something happened at a later time, it is because it was meant to happen that way.

It is evident that Hamlet believes God controls the fate of men and everything else as well. Our fate is predetermined, but the way upon getting there is not. Now, many people could blame God could for not showing us the way more clearly. This aspect is left for interpretation, because it could also be inferred that the person didn’t stop to hear what the good and bad devil on their shoulders had to say. Not taking accountability for your own actions is a part of human nature. We tend to blame our surrounding for our actions, which is why the reader could blame Hamlet’s action on other forces larger than him.

The ghost in the story is very significant and can be seen as the reason why Hamlet chose to make bad decisions. The ghost says, “I am your father’s spirit…” (1. 5. 9). According to this quote, the ghost is Hamlet’s father. Growing up, we learn our values from our parents; they teach us right from wrong and we know that no matter what they say we simply have to do what they tell us. Since the ghost is Hamlet’s father, he feels obligated do something because he loves him dearly. Our parents have an effect on us. As human beings, we never let someone do something to a person we love.

If someone close to us is hurting, we tend to be hurt as well. In the story, we can see that Hamlet has a very close relationship with his dad because he is willing to do anything for him, even kill people. Hamlet’s automatic instinct is to take revenge; the ghost clearly has a powerful effect on his actions. Whether it is free-will, the power of God or other larger forces, Hamlet makes decisions that result in the loss of many lives; Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Ophelia, Laertes, Claudius, and himself.

Hamlet is proof that many things have an effect on our lives and that he lives by free will. Things that affect you are only influences; it is your decision if you chose to bring them into action. No one has the will power to make you do anything. Sometimes we are misled by certain influences but it is up to our mental strength to help lead us down the right path. This play should make every reader realize that there is a consequence for every good or bad action, and we are not the only ones affected by our decisions.

Hamlet (Free Will) Essay

William James on Free Will Essay

William James on Free Will Essay.

William James, born 1842, was a trained physician who subsequently dabbled in works of philosophy and psychology (in which he officiated as a formal study through lectures) (Goodman, 2009). As did many philosophers, Jamesian thinking seeded many discussions on various philosophical topics such as metaphysics, morality, free will-determinism, religion and the afterlife; however, what truly made his ideas notable was his uncanny ability to borrow and integrate knowledge from branches of physiology, psychology and philosophy to weave new insights and dimensions onto traditional philosophical arguments (Goodman).

His influential piece called The Principles of Psychology took these ideas together and encouraged a trend of pragmatism and phenomenology in philosophy amongst a generation of American and European thinkers such as the likes of Bertrand Russell, John Dewey and Edmund Husserl (Goodman, 2009).

James’ ideas were widely discussed and sparked new approaches to thinking due to his tendencies to adapt the strength of differing knowledge from his branches of study that sat somewhat comfortably in the spectrum between two dichotomies (i.

e. he argued for the existence of indeterminism in free will versus determinism argument) (Goodman). His ideas were as much philosophical as they were scientific hence allowing room for many to embrace such forms of thinking (Goodman).

The general idea behind most of William James’ philosophy rests on its arguments that philosophical concepts needed not to be always present in an ‘either/or’ condition, but a logical resolution can be reasoned between two opposing concepts, at least in part of the philosopher himself.

Most would regard Jamesian philosophy as adopting a compatibilist view of the notions (Doyle, 2010) as was highly apparent in his take on the argument on free will versus determinism. Free Will versus Determinism: William James and Indeterminism Prior to James during the seventeenth century, a dualistic view of free will was the predominant idea held by a majority of philosophers who were mostly grounded in theological roots (Doyle, 2010). Freedom was argued to be a gift from God and that its works was in the mind separate from the physical universe (Doyle).

This idea supposed that even something as free as freedom itself originated from a destined source and will travel along a particular trajectory. Subsequent philosophers such as David Hume and Thomas Hobbes believed freedom to be divorced from external forces of influence in that voluntary actions are compatible with complete staunch determinism; they stated that although the idea of freedom they identified denoted a freedom of actions more than a freedom of the will, and though the will is determined, as long as the exercise of this will through actions has an effect on the overall causal chain this would be enough freedom for them (Doyle).

William James was considered the first to denounce the traditional two-dichotomy argument of free will (Doyle, 2010). Instead of looking at free will through the lens of it being determined or random, he gave it elements of both by firstly acknowledging freedom out rightly but upholding responsibilities (Doyle). As a scientist, James elaborated a two-stage model of chance and choice that came to be known as Jamesian free will (Doyle).

To fully grasp the concepts of chance and choice in James’ model as he had explained in great detail (and much specificity) in the lecture The Dilemma of Determinism presented in 1884 to students of Harvard Divinity School, some part of this writing should be used to explain his idea of indeterminism, which subsequently led to the development of the model.

James felt that the soft determinists’ arguments of the freedom of actions were merely “…a quagmire of evasions…no matter what the soft determinist means by it whether he means by acting without external constraint, whether he means the acting rightly or whether he means the acquiescing in the law of the whole-who cannot answer him that sometimes we are free and sometimes we are not? ” (James, 1884, p. 3).

Such compatibilist definitions, to James, caused an issue of words instead of an issue of facts, and still did not answer what true freedom meant which was the purpose of questioning determinism (James). Indeterminism, as he argued, opposed suppositions of determinism (James, 1884). James did not favor the term freedom as it he called it ‘an eulogistic word’ that enabled emotional associations to be made thus allowing its meaning to be manipulated by its holder; he had preferred the word chance in replacement of freedom (James).

Although James professed no external evidence for indeterminism, he argued that it was the opposite of determinism based on the following grounds: (i) determinism held that elements already present in the universe at a given time decree what the other coming elements must be without the slightest ambiguity (a fundamental cause-and-effect perspective) whereas indeterminism reasoned that elements do have loose influence in themselves, that having one element does not determine what the next element is because possibilities may be more than actualities, and things that have yet to come to our knowledge with certainty remain ambiguities.

In this, indeterminism allows for chances and that the world is not understood by one unit of fact (James). Next, (ii) as indeterminism postulated that actualities exist in a wider sea of possibilities from which they are selected, and this sea exists somewhere while determinists say it exists nowhere, that possibilities that did not materialize are products of illusions or they never were at all (James, 1884). Either way, “the truth must lie with one side or the other, and its lying with one side makes the other false” (James, 1884, p. 4).

James argued that determinists who continued to deny the existence of possibilities provided no room for further philosophical discussions, as a fundamentalist grounds will end any debate there was (James). There was also no need for indeterminism to be proven explicitly as scientific conclusions are made based on matters of fact (things that actually happen). However much the amount of facts surmounted only reveal little about what might happen in place of the fact; facts can only be proven by other facts and with things that are possibilities, facts have no concern whatsoever (James).

Possibilities are generated by way of experience that were initially involuntary and random and through observations and chance occurrences that inexhaustible lists of possibilities form in our memories (Doyle, 2010). That indeterminism is as close to the truth and is the opposite of hard determinism remains the basic assumptions held by indeterminists. As mentioned, James’ two-stage model represents a conception of indeterministic free will (Doyle, 2010).

The central idea of possibilities negated the postulations of determinism by putting forward the notion of chances. From a Jamesian point of view, an indeterministic chance is what James called “ambiguous possibilities” and “alternative futures” which are random in the strictest sense (Doyle). Such alternatives, however, do not in any manner restrict the choice to any one of these alternatives (Doyle). Chances (naturally existing and somewhat determined) do not primarily cause actions, as it is the choices (individual volitions) that one has decided which permit an action to occur (Doyle).

All in all, the model assumed that free will is essentially “…chance in a present time of random alternatives, leading to a choice, which grants consent to one possibility and transforms an equivocal ambiguous future into an unalterable and simple past” (Doyle, 2010, p. 7). As a closure to this and in light of how great philosophies leave with prominent questions in mind, James elaborated an example to his lecture attendees of a chance and choice alternative, which until today is considered one of the greatest arguments against libertarian free will (Doyle, 2010);

Imagine that I first walk through Divinity Avenue, and then imagine that the powers governing the universe annihilate ten minutes of time with all that it contained, and set me back at the door of this hall just as I was before the choice was made. Imagine then that, everything else being the same, I now make a different choice and traverse Oxford Street. You, as passive spectators, look on and see the two alternative universes,-one of them with me walking through Divinity Avenue in it, the other with the same me walking through Oxford Street.

Now, if you are determinists you believe one of these universes to have been from eternity impossible: you believe it to have been impossible because of the intrinsic irrationality or accidentality somewhere involved in it. But looking outwardly at these universes, can you say which is the impossible and accidental one, and which the rational and necessary one? I doubt if the most ironclad determinist among you could have the slightest glimmer of light on this point (James, 1884, p.6-7).

References Doyle, B. (2010). Jamesian free will, the two-stage model of William James. William JamesStudies, 5, 1-28. Retrieved from williamjamesstudies. org/5. 1/doyle. pdf Goodman, R. (2009). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: William James. Retrieved fromhttp://plato. stanford. edu/entries/james/ James, W. (1884). The dilemma of determinism. Retrieved from http://www9. georgetown. edu/faculty/blattnew/intro/james_dilemma_of_determinism. pdf.

William James on Free Will Essay