Historical Development of Continental Philosophy’s Existentialism and Phenomenology
By Michael P Boyer
Axia College of University of Phoenix Online
To describe the historical development of Continental philosophy’s existentialism and phenomenology as a response to Hegelian idealism one must first define Hegelian idealism. Hegel thought that “…what is most real—the Absolute—is thought thinking of itself.”(Moore-Bruder, 2005 P. 143) He also thought that it was not an independent group of ideas, but that all the ideas were interconnected. He would propose a thesis, then an antithesis, and together they would form the synthesis. Meaning the thesis and antithesis were the foundation for the synthesis, which would become a new thesis and antithesis forming a new synthesis until the synthesis reached the apex. Hegel thought the highest triad was the “synthesis of ‘Idea’ and ‘Nature’ in ‘Spirit’.”(Moore-Bruder, 2005 P. 145) Idea meaning self conscious thought, Nature meaning the external expression of Idea, and Spirit meaning thought recognizing itself as both thought and as object.
Søren Kierkegaard, the first major existential philosopher, disagreed with Hegel. He thought that individuals and their will and needs impacted their decision-making process. He thought despair was the result of an individual having to make ethical and religious choices alone, and that the only relief one could be granted was that from a belief and trust in a higher power or God even if it went against the universal norms.
Friedrich Nietzsche also disagreed with Hegel’s idealism and all similar rationales. He thought man, as a whole, was irrational and would do what they were told, without question, like a herd of animals. He thought the rare Superman was able to overcome the slave mentality and have thoughts of his own. The Superman was able to create his own values rather than looking toward God as their source of values.
The existential movement...