Tag Archives: Existentialism

Waking Life // Dream Film

18 Jun

“Dream is destiny”

Waking Life

Today I finished the animated film “Waking Life.”

The film meanders through a variety of lessons and questions that the main character encounters, mostly having to do with the state of reality, state of dreaming and meaning of life and death.

It definitely got me thinking more about dreams, and if I can possibly enter a lucid dreaming state.  There was a lot of philosophical references, including a Kierkegaard quote.

 Quotes I liked:

On Existentialism

“The reason I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity, is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we are losing the real virtues of living life passionately, a sense of taking responsibility for who you are; the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life.  Existentialism is often discussed as if it is a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. […] one thing that comes out in reading these guys, is not so much an anguish about life, so much as, a real kind of exuberance of feeling on top of it; it’s like, your life is yours to create. […]When Sartre’ talks about responsibility… it is something very concrete. It’s you and me talking, making decisions, doing things and taking the consequences. […]What you do makes a difference. […].It is always our decision who we are”

On Democracy

“And they haven’t given us any other options, outside the occasional, purely symbolic, participatory act of voting.  You want the puppet on the right, or the puppet on the left?”

On Reincarnation & Collective Memory

“What I am trying to say is that reincarnation is just a poetic expression of what collective memory is. […]It’s like we’re all telepathically sharing our experiences.”

On Liberation

The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness, and once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious. […]To say yes to one instant, is to say yes to all of existence.

Emptyness of the Universe

Yes it’s empty with such fullness. The great moment, the great life of the universe is pulsating within it.

On Human Potential and Fear

Actually the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche, and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human.  The realm of the real spirit: the true artist, the saint, the philosopher – is rarely achieved. Why so few?  Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress, rather this endless and futile addition of zeroes.  …Hell the Greeks, 3,000 years ago, were just as advanced as we are. So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential?   The answer to that can be found in another question, and that’s this: Which is the most universal characteristic? Fear or laziness?

The Test and Authorship of Life

We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, where even our inabilities are having roasts. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic dotieski novel starring clowns.  This entire thing we’re involved with called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life, is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each others presence. The world is an exam to see if we can rise into the direct experiences.  Our eye-site is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity.  Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality.

Paradoxes of Life

An assumption develops that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously… I would say life understood is life lived, but the paradoxes bug me.  And I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me.  And on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.

Self Awareness

And, as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person’s dream, that is self awareness.

Shared story of life

Behind the phenomenal difference, there is but one story, and that story is moving from the No to the Yes.  All of life is like “no thank you, not thank you, no thank you,” and then ultimately it is like “yes, I give in. Yes, I accept. Yes, I embrace.” I mean, that’s the journey.

Buddhism & Existentialism // A Comparison

17 Jun

As I research different philosophies and read different literature, I am making mental note of where the commonalities are.  With Buddhism and Existentialism, here are my thoughts:

  1. The Lens of the Individual: Buddhism teaches people to experience truth for oneself & in existentialism, the central process is one of self-analysis:  Both focus on understanding life and life’s truths through the lens of the individual self.
  2. Removal of Illusions: Existentialism focuses on removing the self from the illusions of categories and ideologies.  While Buddhism does the same, it takes it further to include the removal of our illusion of an actual self (thus its teaching of the “no-self”).
  3. Suffering & Absurdism:  Both Buddhism and existentialism claim that a suffering are an unavoidable truth to the human experience.  In Buddhism, this is the first of its Four Noble Truths, and in existentialism, this is captured in its focus on life being meaningless and absurd.
  4. Concentration: Both Buddhism and existentialism call for deep concentration to reach and achieve states of truth, free from illusion.  In existentialism, it is a constant self-analysis and in Buddhism it is done through meditations.

Where they differ greatly is:

  1. Concrete Self vs No Self.  Existentialism’s aim is for each individual to understand what is core and “authentic’ in themselves.  Although it is one of the more difficult concepts to understand, the concept of “no-self” is core to Buddhism and ultimately means there is no unique soul or self at all; essentially, nothing is core.
  2. Philosophy vs Religion: Buddhism clearly has religious framework which includes daily practices, mantras, a path to end suffering, etc.  Existentialism, has no such parameters or pathways, and is merely a way to view the world.








Existentialism // An Organization Chart

5 Jun
Existentialism Organization Chart

Click here to see the full, interactive chart.

Existentialism: An Overview

5 Jun
Existentialism Relationships

Click the graph to view layers and details in a separate window


The way of thought by means of which

man seeks to become himself,

while approaching life from the perspective that

everything in existence is first and foremost

contextualized from the individual subject.


In true existential fashion, the previous definition is essentially my subjective choice and interpretation.  According to my research and wikipedia, “there has never been general agreement on the definition of existentialism.”[1] The first two lines are actually referring to a closely-related/debatably-synonymous concept from Karl Jaspers of “Existenzphilosophie“.[1]

Existentialism lacks not only a concrete definition, but also concrete categorical placement; it is viewed as a cultural movement and a philosophical position[1][2].

I’ve interpreted existentialism in my “30ish days of Existential Research” as the study of myself to the deepest possible depth to unveal (or at least provide some strong hints) as to what constitutes my most core being and authentic self.



The analysis of human existence

The centrality of human choice



Existentialism centers around the belief that analysis of the human existence begins with the human subject – not merely the thinker, but the acting, living, feeling human.  The analysis of one’s self is of the utmost importance because in doing so, one can understand the concrete, inward nature of his/her existence and live life passionately and sincerely (“authentically”).

  • Personal consciousness precedes all ideologies and preconceptions:  Individuals are individuals first, and prior to being related to anything else, they are related to their own existence.

“The subjective thinker has only one setting—existence—and has nothing to do with localities and such things. The setting is inwardness in existing as a human being; the concretion is the relation of the existence-categories to one another.”

– Soren Kierkegaard[1]

  • Authenticity and Concreteness:  The inquisition into self, can lead to identifying that which is always there – concrete ways of being in the world, concrete amongst all ideologies and categories. This concrete individual existence must be the primary source of information in the study of man, and in understanding the concrete nature of their being, one can live authentically – that is – one can act as oneself, not as “one” acts or as “one’s genes” or any other essence requires. [1]

The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one’s freedom.[1]



Each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely (“authentically”).[1]

  • Absurdism (“meaninglessness”, “amorality” and “unfairness”) is critical to existentialism’s focus on individual choice.  It proposes that anything can happen to anyone at any time: good things to bad people and bad things to good people; therefore, life is absurd and there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it.  In choosing our own meaning, we are inherently responsible for our actions and subjective interpretations in life.



  • Existentialism began in the late 19th and early 20th century. Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher though he did not use the term existentialism.
  • The term “existentialism” was coined by the French Catholic philosopher Gabriel Marcel in the mid-1940s, and the first to adopt the term as a self-description was Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • 1946 Jean-Paul Sartre’s lecture “Existentialism Is a Humanism” saying, “Existence precedes essence”
  • Simone de Beauvoir, an important existentialist who spent much of her life as Sartre’s partner, wrote about feminist and existentialist ethics in her works, including The Second Sex and The Ethics of Ambiguity.
  • Existentialism became popular in the years following World War II.



 [1] Wikipedia article: ‘Existentialism’

[2] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy