According to many, existentialism somewhat had a adverse influence on other philosophies and on the psyche of the individuals because of its extremely subjective nature. According to Truman G. Madsen, American academicians studied this philosophy with neglect and mistrust. In his words,
This distrust is reflected within the advert hominems that recur in discussion: that the origin of the motion is continental disaster; that it is a large psychic and cultural moan: that it’s morbid, even pathological; that its writers are methodless, irrational, subjective, irresponsible, oracular; that its theses are a cloak for social and moral aberration; that its place, if it has one, is with tragic literature or perhaps with case books with human delusion beneath crisis.
In short, the motion is recognized with its least tolerable thinkers and dismissed (“The Contribution of Existentialism” 1).
Another major criticism towards this philosophy is that it’s treated extra as an idealistic philosophy than as a sensible one. Herbert Marcuse has commented about this philosophy in this perspective.
Speaking about Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, he says that ‘anxiety’ and ‘meaninglessness’ are the options that are situation particular and cannot be assigned to the nature of existence itself. He opines that existentialism is an idealistic doctrine and holds good in its applicability solely to a certain point of time in historical past. It is mistaken to strive its applicability to the situations other than these which have been answerable for its start.
If we now have to consider solely the above talked about views, then we may adhere to a narrow evaluation of existentialism as a philosophy and its influence on various streams of knowledge and society.
Considering the extent of affect of existentialism, Thomas R. Flynn writes,
…..as a philosophical motion, to the extent that it ever was one, existentialism in its various avatars has performed a significant position in continental philosophy for over fifty years and has now entered the perennial philosophical dialog by which it voices the abiding ethical issues of human situation. In different phrases, it continues to defend individual freedom, accountability and authenticity within the midst of varied forms of determinism, conformism, self-deception, technologism and the like so prevalent in our day. And it typically does so in an imaginative mode that employs art and example to bring residence in concrete trend summary ideas that otherwise risk being dismissed as scholastic irrelevancies or admired from a distance as interesting intellectual curiosities (Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction 106).
Wartenberg has devoted a complete chapter in his guide, Beginners Guide to Existentialism, to this concern the place he discusses the theory of social oppression with the concentrate on the writings of Sartre, which deals with anti-Semitism, the writings of Simone de Beauvoir, which deals with gender discrimination and the writings of Frank Fanon that offers with the colonialism. According to Wartenberg, ‘existentialists concern over with oppression isn’t any mere afterthought to the speculation that has no inherently social character’. He takes the example of French Existentialism which is a deeply politically engaged philosophy and its propagators’ real concern was to assist to remove the oppressive structures that hold human beings enslaved. Though Sartre’s name comes in the forefront relating to the same, Maurice Merleau Ponty, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Franz Fanon have contributed a lot towards social reforms, as they were the true practitioners of the philosophy.
Thomas E Wartenberg, in Sartre’s context, takes up Sartre’s political essay, “Anti-Semite and Jew” (1946), the place Sartre adapts the framework of existentialism to grasp a type of social oppression which is within the type of racism. According to Wartenberg, many defended anti-Semitism for instance of ignorance, which is certainly an insufficient explanation for their defence. Entertaining a unfavorable social and political angle in path of a social group is unquestionably inhumane and a form of oppression. Sartre calls it ‘Bad Faith’ and gives a extra sufficient explanation for the same by drawing on a number of the key ideas of existentialism. He writes in “Anti-Semitic Jew”,
Anti-Semitism is a free and complete selection of oneself, a comprehensive attitude that one adopts not solely towards Jews, but in the path of males generally, in the direction of historical past and society: it’s one and the identical time a passion and a construction of the world (17).
Based on the precept of existentialism, Sartre considers anti-Semitism as more than a lack, one thing aside from merely ‘ignorance’. He sees it as an affirmative stance of an individual, which isn’t just restricted to Jews, however in the course of the whole world. According to Wartenberg, Sartre claims that existentialism is the result of anti-Semite’s fear of his or her freedom. He writes,
The anti-Semite chooses the irremediable out of concern of being free; he chooses mediocrity out of concern of being alone, and out of satisfaction he makes out of this irremediable mediocrity a inflexible aristocracy. To this end he finds the existence of the Jew absolutely necessary. Otherwise, to whom would he be superior? ….Thus the anti-Semite is in the unhappy place of getting a vital want for the very enemy he wishes to destroy (“Anti-Semite Jew” 27-28).
Thus, based on Sartre, an anti-Semite succumbs to unhealthy religion and accepts the dictates the social group to which they belong to. Sartre calls the social group or the society by which we live as ‘They’ and the dictates of the ‘They’ and describes the anti-Semite follows as ‘mediocre’. Here there is not any scope for exception since nobody, who becomes a part of the social group, can differ from the views of the ‘They’ or the society in general. Thus based on Wartenberg, Sartre’s essay throws gentle not solely on the individual behaviour and dangerous religion but in addition identifies the roots of oppression.
After writing on Sartre Wartenberg takes up the argument of Simone de Beauvoir, one other existentialist and a feminist to demonstrate the influence of existentialism on the society. Beauvoir has made use of the tools of existentialism to explore the nature of sexism and gender oppression. Her most well-known statement, ‘One isn’t born, however quite turns into a woman’ (The Second Sex 301) strikes the necessary thing concept that’s propagated. According to her, birth by no means determines roles of the individuals, however it is the societal norms that do the same and therefore the distinction between the male and the female in the society. She showed a new method of wanting or understanding the social roles into which persons are positioned based on their gender. According to her, ‘woman’ is the negation of ‘man’, which she calls primarily a ‘valorised’ term. She opines that, to be human is, implicitly, to be a ‘man’, to be ‘woman’ is, inherently to be inferior. She writes,
Thus humanity is male and man defines girl not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being…..she is outlined and differentiated as regards to man and not he close to her; she is the incidental, the inessential versus the essential. He is the Subject, he’s the Absolute-she is the Other (The Second Sex, xviii-xix).
De Beauvoir tries to analyse man-woman relationship in ontological terms. In her opinion, man is all the time the dominant term in the relationship and ladies always the subordinate. While analysing various reasons for women’s oppression by males or analysing the reasons for girls being weak to exploitation by men, Beauvoir identifies sure focal factors, viz.,
a) Women permit themselves to be exploited by men as they need males to proceed the propagation of the human race. As a outcome, they cannot live in isolation.
b) The second potential reason she gives is that ladies can’t sever their reference to males as a outcome of the object of many women’s sexual need is male.
c) The third and the existentialist reason which de Beauvoir gives is that ladies select to simply accept their dependent standing.
According to Wartenberg, De Beauvoir factors to the overall human tendency to forego freedom and aspire for the one which is more engaging, i.e., status that enables folks to evade lots of the difficulties that freedom strews in their path. Beauvoir asserts that women have accepted their oppression by males primarily not as a end result of it has offered them with financial security-although she acknowledges that it also plays a role-but as a result of that oppression has supplied women the metaphysical solace of avoiding the burden of freedom (155).
In the opinion of Wartenberg, Beauvoir’s evaluation is on par with Sartre’s claims on anti-Semitism. According to her, men, who are particularly inferior to different men, benefit from gender oppression as it provides them a means of affirming their price by allowing them to feel superior to girls. What becomes unique in Beauvoir’s use of this abstract theory of existentialism is the way in which she fills the e-book with empirical details which is not so with many existentialists.
Another existentialist with whom Wartenberg is anxious is Frantz Fanon in the context of oppression associated to colonialism. It is a truism that colonialism is a strong weapon to indulge in economic and cultural exploitation and social and political oppression. Fanon’s credit score lies in the fact that he prolonged the ideas of existentialism to analyse the oppression related to colonialism in his guide Black Skin White Masks. Fanon has formed his evaluation of the colonialist oppression of the blacks primarily based on Sartre’s concept of ‘the look’. While his Black Skin White Masks analyses the post-colonial scenario detailing the methods colonialism dehumanises these whom it guidelines, his Wretched of the Earth extends his analysis of the political means of decolonisation. Along with influencing the academics, Fanon’s affect additionally influenced cultural studies. Wartenberg identifies his influence on many leaders of the anti-imperialist struggle following the Algerian war, including Steve Biko and Earnest Che Guevara.