What is the difference between humanism and existentialism

Existentialism as humanism?

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Sartre's understanding of being
2.1 Being in oneself
2.2 Being for oneself
2.3 Being for others

3. The other

4. Existential interpretations

5. Existentialism is a humanism

6. Conclusion

Source and literature references

1 Introduction:

The concept of "Existence"[1] has above all in relation to the human Existence a relatively recent history in philosophy. The real and most important importance was only assigned to it in the 20th century, with its most important representatives from the most diverse philosophical directions and schools, such as ontology and phenomenology.[2] For a certain period of time I was occupied with the "Existence" even as modern, as a popular attitude towards life of one or the other generation that seemed to be looking for possible meaning. One of the main representatives for these people was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). He became her figurehead. But you have to have Sartre's dedicated work and life[3] as more than just a fad for some youngsters to appreciate the immense importance of the Sartre man in history. Sartre was appreciated by the philosophers, on the one hand, by being openly criticized by name and, on the other hand, by not being explicit, for example by Michel Foucault, who did not want to enter into a discourse with him, not to mention the position of the Having to take negation.[4] The criticism of Sartre's philosophy came from the most varied of directions. Some saw his methodical approach as doomed to fail, others accused him of raising the subject in his own right, of drawing it all too powerfully. And non-philosophers, in turn, accused him of moral depravity or nihilism. With all of this and despite the temporal distance to Sartre's life and work and the past topicality of existentialism during the last post-war period, nothing has been decided. On the contrary. It is becoming more and more clear that especially today, in view of the globalization aspects that now seem old, such as the advancing loneliness and isolation of young and old people, as well as the enormous influence of the Internet - as a supposedly limitless flow of information - on all areas of life and the ever increasing disorientation in these structures and webs, so that especially today questions about the very nature of existence require answers that have not lost any of their everyday presence over a century. It is almost a condition for securing one's own livelihood to present oneself, to develop a profile design and to realize it, only to have to realize in the next moment that the much invoked flexibility demands something new, that the old has had its day. A limitless one alienation Process in all situations and areas of life Here it seems primarily irrelevant whether people construct society or, conversely, whether society constructs people. The main thing is the understanding of the role of the individual, the "ambivalent subject (...), torn between disenfranchisement and empowerment, both in terms of method and content."[5]

In my work, this tension should be developed, taking into account Sartre's understanding of being and its methodological foundation. Based on this, it should be shown how, despite all criticism[6], that existentialism can be understood by Sartre as humanism. How existentialism is not as an ideology in the sense of a "fruit from the tree of idealism"[7] loses its justification in the face of the openness of life, but just does justice to this openness by placing people in their full responsibility - "(...) totally responsible for their being". Because the "(...) moral agent (...)" only has to be revealed, ideally - but also in a more frightening way, "that he is being through which values ​​exist. "[8]

2. Sartre's understanding of being:

The subtitle, apparently a "contradictio in adjecto"[9], his main philosophical work The being and the nothing, which appeared during the Second World War, indicates what Sartre is about: the "attempt at a phenomenological ontology". Here we think about phenomenology and ontology, in simultaneous "rejection of idealism as well as materialism or realism"[10] to bring together, to think a synthesis of the appearances of the structures of being. Sartre's "phenomenological ontology" has the "(...) character of an ontology of intentionality."[11] Sartre essentially refers to Edmund Husserl when he writes that “every consciousness (...) consciousness of something is)."[12] With Sartre this has the consequence "that consciousness in its deepest nature is related to a transcendent being."[13] It “arises as on a being directedthat is not itself. "[14] Sartre also calls this "the ontological proof."[15] Because “consciousness is a being whose existence posits the essence, and conversely it is consciousness of a being whose essence implies existence, that is, whose appearance requires to be.“[16] This being is the "transphenomenal being of the phenomena."[17] So in Sartre's phenomenology we are dealing with appearances for us and they do it, this means to be, as something. The consciousness is intentional, object-related and also directed towards itself, whereby the following applies: "(...) every conscious existence exists as consciousness to exist."[18] We can perceive or recognize the phenomena (intuitively) with the pre-reflective cogitowhich is the cause of itself - causa sui. The “phenomenon of being is (...) immediate to consciousness

revealed. "[19] To be directly conscious here means: to be completely with the matter, in contrast to reflection, and the phenomenon of being is a being-for-us. Consciousness is enabled to always transcend what exists towards the meaning of being. In Sartre, following Hegel, the meaning of this being is expressed as follows in the types of being of To be for oneself and des Being in oneself found. This type is necessarily represented by the “realms of being (...) of the pre-reflective cogito and the being of the phenomenon "[20] differentiated. Pre-reflective thinking through "non-reflective consciousness"[21] thus forms the basis of everything, according to Sartre the only one more intuitive[22]'Realization, it is the transphenomenal reason of this.

In his philosophy, Sartre builds up the understanding of being in a dialectical way. There is the knower and the known, the being of the knower and the being of the known, whereby the phenomenon "the unity of knowing consciousness and known object"[23] is. In principle, these are the prerequisites for people in the world and how people find themselves in the world. Sartre now asks, among other things, the question "(...) what (...) the deep meaning of these two types of being (is)?" And "for what reasons do both belong to it Be generally to? "[24] In the following, the two types of being des Being in oneself and des To be for oneself should be presented in more detail, in particular to highlight the relevance of these questions with regard to the Others to clarify.

2.1 Being in itself:

According to Sartre, "Consciousness (...) is an opened up of those who exist, and those who exist appear to consciousness on the basis of their being."[25] The "being is always the present basis of the existing (...)", whereby, as already mentioned, the "consciousness can always transcend the existing, (...) on the sense of being. "[26] Now this sense is the phenomenon of being. The sense itself also has a being: a being-in-itself. This means that there is no 'behind' the appearance, no metaphysical reason, but only the existentia, "According to the traditional contrast between essentia and existentia."[27] Thus the assumption of God is opposed, who "gave the world to be"[28] Sartre removes the "prejudice (...) that we want to call creationism."[29] The being-in-itself is denied any activity, that is, that it had created itself, as well as any passivity, namely that “it would have been created”, it “cannot to be causa sui like consciousness. "[30] The terms of activity and passivity therefore refer exclusively to " human " Behavior. Man actively has means to an end and also passive objects "on which our activity is directed."[31] But “the consistency of being is in itself beyond active and passive. (...), it is Yourself.[32] Sartre brings being to various, compressing formulas. On the one hand, the one mentioned at the beginning: “Being is. Being is in itself. "And on the other hand:" (...) being is what it is.“AvailableTo follow Heidegger. It only has absolute totality or "full positivity", it is identical to itself and "it is exhausted in being it."[33] In itself there is “no parcel of being that is not without distance to itself, (...) not the slightest hint of a duality. (...) It is

infinite. "[34] In contrast, there is the being of consciousness "that does not coincide with itself in a complete adequacy."[35]

Thus, for example, objects made by humans have, according to Heidegger, humans to the attention, a being in oneself. Man had an idea, a plan for the production of a thing in order to, e.g. B. to be able to open a letter with it. He makes a letter opener. Here the essence, that is, the creation plan, precedes the concrete existence of a letter opener. The only "essence" of the letter opener is now to be a letter opener, to be what it is. There is no secret behind it, no unsolved secret. “A phenomenal existing can never be derived from another existing insofar as it is existing. That's what we do the contingency of being in oneself. "[36] Here, among other things, Sartre's objection to God as the creator of man becomes clear. God cannot have created us like humans create things, because human existence, according to Sartre, is preceded by the concrete existence of essence, the being, in contrast to things that also exist regardless of which consciousness one is makes of them. However, it must not be assumed that human beings, or rather human existence, do not also have a necessary being-in-itself. But more on that later.

2.2 Being for oneself:

As already indicated above, the being of consciousness has the complementary function of general being, "which it" in its being around this being itself is possible ’."[37] This type of being is that of being-for-oneself. Sartre gives us a few characteristics to describe being-for-oneself. Very important of these would be those of the Possible and the factual need.[38] Being-in-itself could "(...) neither be derived from the possible nor reduced to the necessary (...)."[39] But it is different with regard to the being-for-itself of consciousness. It is not identical to itself, it is not "full of itself"[40], but in an "indissoluble unity"[41] split into a pre-reflective and a reflective cogito. The former is the necessity for the latter, and yet both refer to each other as a "double reference game"[42]. Sartre explains this on the basis of 'internal' processes such as belief, lust or joy, which do not "exist, before they are conscious. "Further still:" (...) consciousness is the measure of their being. "[43] Its characteristic now is the “absolute immanence.” And as soon as one wants to grasp this being, it slips away, confuses one through the “existence of what is mirrored” and leaves us with a “duality, the unity is[44] suspect. Sartre wants a (pre-reflective) Convey consciousness, the "(...) consciousness (of) oneself"[45] is. This indicates that “the subject (...) is not himself be (can). (...) But neither can it not Not be, since this is an indication of the subject itself. "[46] Since there is now a separation, a rift as the "pure negative", from Sartre as "an ideal distance in the immanence of the subject to himself (...)"[47] "For- itself (...) must be its own nothing." "For- itself is being that determines itself to exist, insofar as it cannot coincide with itself."[48] This nothing is also referred to as the "pure notion of the in-itself (...), like a hole of being within being"[49] described. This is the characteristic of the mentioned above Possible: An existing can always reveal itself as a way of being or as a being of nothing. "Nothing is your own (...) and only possibility"[50] of being.


[1] See Hermann Heidegger (Ed.): Annual edition of the Martin-Heidegger-Gesellschaft, 0. 0. 1995, p. 11 ff.

In this previously unpublished manuscript "Existentialism", Martin Heidegger provides concise definitions of the concept of "existence", which found its way into Kierkegaard's thinking and was taken up by "existentialism". As a representative he leads among others Karl Jaspers and

Jean-Paul Sartre, of course explicitly including himself in the third person. In it he takes for himself

and Jaspers claim not, like Sartre, between 'atheistic' and 'theistic' existentialism

distinguish. Let me go further here in particular to the letter About humanism referenced by Martin Heidegger, in which he openly distances himself from Sartre's conception of existential philosophy.

[2] So z. B. Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl and Karl Jaspers, to name just a few, but the most important ones. They are the successors of "the first three 'existing thinkers" "S. Kierkegaard, M. Stirner and F. Nietzsche. Cf. Thomas Seibert: Existential Philosophy, Stuttgart / Weimar 1997, p. X f.

[3] Arthur C. Danto: Sartre, Göttingen 1997, p. 187. The author mentions Sartre in the series of really great philosophers whose "life and work (...) are from one piece."

[4] Cf. Andrea Roedig: What is wrong with existentialism? in: Peter Knopp and Vincent v. Wroblewsky (Ed.): Existentialismus heute, Berlin 1999, pp. 131-145. In her contribution, the author examines the two philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault for similarities and differences. In doing so, she emphasizes and confirms Foucault's criticism of Sartre's existential analysis, which she believes is justified, using the example of the feeling of insincerity.

[5] Andrea Roedig: What is wrong with existentialism ?, p. 142 f.

[6] See Johannes Hirschberger: History of Philosophy. Modern times and the present, Frankfurt a. Main undated, vol. II. The author begins: “The nothing of the French, however, is destructive (...). Sartre's attitude is rooted in the past, has no new philosophical awakening and lives only from its radicalism. ”P. 650 f.

[7] Leo Gabriel: Existential Philosophy. From Kierkegaard to Sartre, Vienna 1951, p. 11.

[8] Jean-Paul Sartre: Being and Nothing. Attempt of a phenomenological ontology, Reinbek near Hamburg

7th edition 2001, p. 1071.

[9] Arthur C. Danto: Sartre, p. 49.

[10] Peter Kampits: Sartre and the question of the other. A social ontological investigation, Vienna / Munich 1975, p. 250.

[11] Quoted from: Michael Theunissen: The other. Studies on contemporary social ontology, Berlin / New York 2nd ed. 1981, p. 194.

[12] SuN, p. 33.

According to M. Theunissen, he continues his "transcendental philosophical conception" immediately. Cf. M. Theunissen: Der Andere, p. 198 f.

[13] SuN, p. 33.

[14] Ibid, p. 35.

[15] Ibid.

[16] SuN, p. 36 f.

[17] Ibid, p. 37.

[18] Ibid, p. 23.

[19] Ibid, p. 38.

[20] Ibid, p. 39.

[21] Ibid, p. 22.

[22] Ibid, p. 324.

[23] Cf. Martin Suhr: Jean-Paul Sartre for an introduction, Hamburg 2001, p.98 f.

[24] SuN, p. 44.

[25] Ibid, p. 37.

[26] Ibid, p. 38.

[27] Johannes Hirschberger: The History of Philosophy. Modern times and the present, Vol. II., P. 650.

[28] SuN, p. 40.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid, p. 40 f.

[31] Ibid, p. 41.

[32] Ibid, p. 41.

[33] Ibid, p. 42.

[34] Ibid, p. 164 f.

[35] Ibid, p. 164.

[36] Ibid, p. 44.

[37] Ibid, p. 164.

[38] SuN, p. 452.

[39] Ibid, p. 44.

[40] Ibid, p. 165.

[41] Ibid, p. 166.

[42] Ibid, p. 167.

[43] Ibid, p. 167.

[44] Ibid, p.168.

[45] Ibid, p. 168.

[46] Ibid, p. 169.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid, p. 171.

[49] Ibid, p.1055 f.

[50] Ibid, p. 172.

End of the reading sample from 28 pages