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I have a few questions-what do fellow INTPs think of existentialism and its ideas? Assuming people know what it is and what it's about, do INTPs think about it? Does anyone here think it fits the way an INTP would see the world?
 

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"There are no answers, only choices". It's from Solaris. I think it could be an existentialist's credo: you live, therefore you (have to) make choices. There's no escape. If you don't make your own choices, they will be made for you. It doesn't imply they would be worse than our own. But it's somehow always better (for me) to make my own. And yeah, there are no answers.
 

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From the little I know about about it sounds like a strange philosophy(or whatever it is).
 

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I understand the general principle of existentialism. But do you really always chose what you become ? For instance, do children always chose to be abused ? Anyway I find this vision of life very interesting, but due to my general skepticism I can't say I agree with it.
 

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"There are no answers, only choices". It's from Solaris. I think it could be an existentialist's credo: you live, therefore you (have to) make choices. There's no escape. If you don't make your own choices, they will be made for you. It doesn't imply they would be worse than our own. But it's somehow always better (for me) to make my own. And yeah, there are no answers.
Adding on to that...here is another famous quote from existentialism.

"Existence precedes essence."

Human beings are not manufactured objects, like some sort of tool made with a purpose in mind. Tools don't have freedom. They have a fixed essence.
Many religion taught people that they have a fixed essence.
Existentialism instead teaches that our choices and the consequences of our choices dictate our essence.

For example, my essence will not be determined until I die, for while I live, I still have the ability to make choices that impact the world around me. It is only fixed and set in stone after I pass away.
 

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I found it to be very eye-opening and pivotal to informing my worldview.

I understand the general principle of existentialism. But do you really always chose what you become ? For instance, do children always chose to be abused ? Anyway I find this vision of life very interesting, but due to my general skepticism I can't say I agree with it.
Children don't choose to be abused anymore than you chose to be born when, where and to whom you were, but these conditions are always in the past– absurdly enough, you are cast into existence from nothing and you may suddenly stop and wonder 'what am I?' and from that moment, or any given moment, you are entirely free to create yourself. Freedom exists in your ability to conceive of a future, and to base your actions just as much (or more so) in this future ideal as in past facts or present circumstances. Since the future exists at least as long as you exist in this malleable state, your existence is characterized by freedom.

That's not so much my view but more of a generalized existentialist (drawing mostly from Sartre) view, but I wouldn't consider myself particularly knowledgeable on the subject by any means, and its important to remember that there is an incredible amount of variation between the philosophies of different Existentialists– so much so that many, including Sartre, have expressed skepticism that such a unified school of thought exists in any meaningful sense.
 

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• Essence is man-imposed and feeble
• Life is purposeless from all conceivable vantage points that lie outside of oneself
• For meaning, we must then look inwards

Existentialism tends to acknowledge these points. As for a means of coping with the daunting implications of these points, there is much divergence. Sartre poses free will; Nietzsche thought the idea ridiculous. Camus poses heroism, Kierkegaard the leap of faith, etc. Few pose suicide; well, few who are still alive, anyway.

Deeming oneself an 'existentialist', then, is only answering half of the question.
 

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Since the op is partly focused on how Existentialism fits how INTPs see the world, I thought it might be fun to list some existentialists by type. These may or may not be correct, so feel free to challenge them.
INTPs
-Franz Kafka (this is a bit of a stretch; not so much an existentialist philosopher as that his literature was influential in the development of the philosophy)

INTJs
Friedrich Nietzsche
Jean-Paul Sartre
Martin Heidegger

INFPs
Soeren Kierkegaard
Albert Camus

INFJs
Simone de Beauvoir
Fyodor Dostoevsky (not so much an existentialist philosopher, but his literature was highly influential)

So out of this group we don't fare so well.. whatever that's worth. I drew these from celebritytypes.com , which I consider to be wrong on more than one occasion.
 

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"There are no answers, only choices". It's from Solaris.
Great quote, that one has stuck with me for years now. It's so perfect.

I think it could be an existentialist's credo: you live, therefore you (have to) make choices. There's no escape. If you don't make your own choices, they will be made for you. It doesn't imply they would be worse than our own. But it's somehow always better (for me) to make my own. And yeah, there are no answers.
That's kind of how I see it too. One can make up answers, but they're just fabricated. Depending on the type of existentialism, one must to some degree be open about the fact that one IS creating answers and that none are actually there to be found naturally.

It was a huge shift for me away from orthodox faith when I accepted that on some level we only see through the glass darkly and there's a primal responsibility for each of us to make choices in that vacuum of the unknown rather than pretending that certain things are true and then letting them dictate our choices for us. Such behavior is still a choice, but it's a veiled one and avoids facing the abyss and the actual enormity of our choices. It's like we are so scared of actually having to make these "choices in a vacuum" that we make up rules for ourselves so that the choice can be derived from elsewhere and seem necessary.

@ManWithoutHats: Not sure on the typings, but a decent list of prominent existentialists.
 

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After having read a number of existentialist works, I've noticed a general trend discoverable throughout all of them.

Works of existential fiction tend to depict a protagonist undergoing a monumental struggle in his life. The struggle begins with complacence, manifests itself through the process of disillusionment, and ends with the establishment of individual power.

The protagonist is generally somewhat irresponsible or indifferent to begin with, but he finds, after a series of important revelations and occurrences, that all points about which everyday life pivots—our notion of a God, a State, a Path; things that project the will outside of oneself, thereby supplying it a sort of impersonal validation—are fundamentally at odds with life and the world.

The remainder of the work is devoted to the protagonist's means of coping with these newfound truths, and finding answers to the grating uncertainty which these truths have introduced into his life. The last line of The Stranger, after the protagonist had come to grips with the fact that he was going to be executed: “For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had 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.”
 
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As others have already said, I feel that it is a mistake to take a single form of thought, from any source, and call that your purpose.
For all of that, my purpose in life has been to understand life as well as I can, and to live peacefully with what I discover. Which is pretty much existentialism. However, as I myself go through the basic story line that @JPS has laid out, I find that I frequently disagree with that purpose. In the end, that purpose is a guideline, but I stray from it often, only to find that I have better defined it for myself.
If that makes any sense.

Thanx for the question.
 
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It seems enlightening and interesting to me, as well as fulfilling, but a bit touchy-feely and illogical for me to look to as the meaning of all life for everyone. I see no scientific reason for it to be true so it is kind of not my thing but I do see its merits. It is probably good as a private, internal religion for each to discover on their own, or a self-discovery doctrine that helps you feel like you found purpose... I cannot settle on a choose-your-own-adventure kind of universe, however. I must find out objectively what is out there before I decide on the purpose, how, and why of the universe, and where it is going, as well as earth. I am minuscule and hardly fit into the equation. I find meaning in my friends, and what is out there for me and them does not factor into how I determine my purpose and worth (through them). Science and myself I separate completely. I appreciate that my friends are small and insignificant and yet they try their best to be hardworking, good and kind to me and others, even when there is objectively no reason for it, and I know it is hard to be good and kind in a world you must survive in. I have struggled with such so I can appreciate this through my own anecdotal evidence of the difficulty of choosing to be good, when there is so much to be gained through machiavellianism. That is my philosophy, rather than existentialism, but I suppose every person's experience rather than evidence will shape their own personal belief statement.
 

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Existentialism is the cure for solipsism and apathy.

If you're unfamiliar with it, start with Camus's Myth of Sisyphus. From there, work your way into taking a look at Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. There are others, but those four are the ones I found the most worthwhile.

I only recommend Kierkegaard if you're either religious, or interested in learning about the history of existentialism.
 

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I completely disagree with the above about kierkegaard. If anyone thinks he is religious in any modern typical sense of the term, then they really haven't read him very well. I have never come across any Christian of any form who describes his sense of "christianity" the way he does.

My understanding of existentialism, or the direction in which I prefer to practice it, comes mainly from kierkegaard. Above all it stresses keeping an open mind, and in order to be able to do so it is crucial to understand one's own state of mind and its different manifestations. I believe in this way it doesn't stress a belief in free will so much as that it is possible, and that some people by approaching the world a certain way actually have "more" free will. Kierkegaard is actually very specific about how he regards consciousness to work: a very interesting layering and incorporation of the process of "implication" itself. He stresses the notion "dialectical" constantly, which is basically a justification he uses to overide his belief that everyone is trapped in some sort of empirical bias, including science itself. I basically like it because I like freedom, and residing in the "fact" that there is no free will doesn't accomplish anything. Especially because in this view it is impossible to accomplish anything.
 

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@forgotten reason

If you're implying that I think Kierkegaard was religious in the modern sense, you're mistaken. His criticism of the Christendom of his time makes it clear that that's not the case.

I was saying, perhaps unclearly, that a potential reader who is religious may find him worthwhile, specifically because of his perspective on the personal nature of what he might view as authentic 'religiousness'. Many of the same issues from the Christianity of his day can be found in modern religious institutions, as well, and reading him may serve to open people up to such realities.

I'm glad that you were able to find meaning in his works, and encourage you to continue to recommend him to whoever you choose. I found that most of the ideas seen in his writings were more personally appreciable as presented in the works of later existentialist philosophers. Thus, I recommend those others instead in most cases. You do you, though.
 

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ManWithoutHats said:
Since the op is partly focused on how Existentialism fits how INTPs see the world, I thought it might be fun to list some existentialists by type. These may or may not be correct, so feel free to challenge them.

INTPs
-Franz Kafka (this is a bit of a stretch; not so much an existentialist philosopher as that his literature was influential in the development of the philosophy)

INTJs
Friedrich Nietzsche
Jean-Paul Sartre
Martin Heidegger

INFPs
Soeren Kierkegaard
Albert Camus

INFJs
Simone de Beauvoir
Fyodor Dostoevsky (not so much an existentialist philosopher, but his literature was highly influential)

So out of this group we don't fare so well.. whatever that's worth. I drew these from celebritytypes.com, which I consider to be wrong on more than one occasion.
NipNip said:
The INTP's closest neighbour-type

4) INFP - perhaps quite surprisingly
No surprise here. The greatest writers are mostly feelers anyway, and philosophy desperately needs feelers who can see what thinkers fail to notice. For me Nietzsche is one of them.

justintroverted said:
Does anyone here think it fits the way an INTP would see the world?
Yes, on condition that it is presented in the systematic way that thinking types prefer.


Steven Crowell: Existentialism

Like “rationalism” and “empiricism,” “existentialism” is a term that belongs to intellectual history. Its definition is thus to some extent one of historical convenience. The term was explicitly adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre, and through the wide dissemination of the postwar literary and philosophical output of Sartre and his associates—notably Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus—existentialism became identified with a cultural movement that flourished in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the major philosophers identified as existentialists (many of whom—for instance Camus and Heidegger—repudiated the label) were Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber in Germany, Jean Wahl and Gabriel Marcel in France, the Spaniards José Ortega y Gasset and Miguel de Unamuno, and the Russians Nikolai Berdyaev and Lev Shestov. The nineteenth century philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, came to be seen as precursors of the movement. Existentialism was as much a literary phenomenon as a philosophical one. Sartre's own ideas were and are better known through his fictional works (such as Nausea and No Exit) than through his more purely philosophical ones (such as Being and Nothingness and Critique of Dialectical Reason), and the postwar years found a very diverse coterie of writers and artists linked under the term: retrospectively, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, and Kafka were conscripted; in Paris there were Jean Genet, André Gide, André Malraux, and the expatriate Samuel Beckett; the Norwegian Knut Hamsun and the Romanian Eugene Ionesco belong to the club; artists such as Alberto Giacometti and even Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, and Willem de Kooning, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Ingmar Bergman were understood in existential terms. By the mid 1970s the cultural image of existentialism had become a cliché, parodized in countless books and films by Woody Allen.

It is sometimes suggested, therefore, that existentialism just is this bygone cultural movement rather than an identifiable philosophical position; or, alternatively, that the term should be restricted to Sartre's philosophy alone. But while a philosophical definition of existentialism may not entirely ignore the cultural fate of the term, and while Sartre's thought must loom large in any account of existentialism, the concept does pick out a distinctive cluster of philosophical problems and helpfully identifies a relatively distinct current of twentieth- and now twenty-first-century philosophical inquiry, one that has had significant impact on fields such as theology (through Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, and others) and psychology (from Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss to Otto Rank, R. D. Laing, and Viktor Frankl). What makes this current of inquiry distinct is not its concern with “existence” in general, but rather its claim that thinking about human existence requires new categories not found in the conceptual repertoire of ancient or modern thought; human beings can be understood neither as substances with fixed properties, nor as subjects interacting with a world of objects.

On the existential view, to understand what a human being is it is not enough to know all the truths that natural science—including the science of psychology—could tell us. The dualist who holds that human beings are composed of independent substances—“mind” and “body”—is no better off in this regard than is the physicalist, who holds that human existence can be adequately explained in terms of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. Existentialism does not deny the validity of the basic categories of physics, biology, psychology, and the other sciences (categories such as matter, causality, force, function, organism, development, motivation, and so on). It claims only that human beings cannot be fully understood in terms of them. Nor can such an understanding be gained by supplementing our scientific picture with a moral one. Categories of moral theory such as intention, blame, responsibility, character, duty, virtue, and the like do capture important aspects of the human condition, but neither moral thinking (governed by the norms of the good and the right) nor scientific thinking (governed by the norm of truth) suffices.

“Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. To approach existentialism in this categorial way may seem to conceal what is often taken to be its “heart” (Kaufmann 1968: 12), namely, its character as a gesture of protest against academic philosophy, its anti-system sensibility, its flight from the “iron cage” of reason. But while it is true that the major existential philosophers wrote with a passion and urgency rather uncommon in our own time, and while the idea that philosophy cannot be practiced in the disinterested manner of an objective science is indeed central to existentialism, it is equally true that all the themes popularly associated with existentialism—dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment, nothingness, and so on—find their philosophical significance in the context of the search for a new categorial framework, together with its governing norm.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existentialism/






 
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