Chapter

Becoming an individual

Thomas Flynn

in Existentialism

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780192804280
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191775932 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780192804280.003.0002

Series: Very Short Introductions

Becoming an individual

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‘Becoming an individual’ looks at the influence of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche on existentialism's approach to the individual. Kierkegaard described three stages for the individual: the aesthetic stage, where one operates without morality; the ethical stage, where one recognizes that ‘to be is to choose oneself’; and the religious stage, where one realises that moral rules are no longer absolute. The centrality of choice was particularly influential for existentialists, and greater importance was attributed to the situations of individuals. Nietzsche argued that all are motivated by a base ‘will-to-power’ and that only ‘free spirits’ can reshape morality to match this.

Keywords: Absolute; Simone de Beauvoir; choice; death of God; individual; Karl Jaspers; Immanuel Kant; morality; Paul Ricoeur; Jean-Paul Sartre; Leo Tolstoy

Chapter.  6358 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: 20th-Century Philosophy

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