Existentialism is a relatively new philosophy that emphasizes individuality opposed to the group dynamics of a society. It is in a reaction to such ideas as Darwinism, the Industrial Revolution, and to science as a whole. Since the 19th century there has been many existentialism writers who have written about how the world is according to existentialist philosophy, one such writer is Jose Ortega. In “Man Has No Nature”, Jose Ortega shows how mankind truly lives in an existentialist world. One of the main ideas of the existentialists is that existence precedes essence. This is to say that a man must exist before he can think. This is something that Ortega feels that man, unlike other objects, must fight for. “A stone is given its existence it need not fight for being what it is – a stone in the field.” (153) A stone is given its never changing essence simply by existing. A rock is a rock is a rock. All of its properties are there from the start. These “things” (anything other then man) are given their being ready-made. Man’s essence is different; it is what he creates it to be. He is the sole artist in the painting of his life. He must choose his own reality; what he wants to be. “He is given the abstract possibility of existing, but not the reality.” (153) There are two specific ideas that make up mankind according to Ortega. These are mans natural and extra-natural being. The extra-natural being is what makes man different. This is what the individual decides that

his life will be. This is man’s individual program as Ortega would put it. Man starts off with just an existence and nothing more. He does not exist in the sense of what a mankind truly is. “…with an entity whose being consists not in what is already, but in what it is not yet, a being that consists in not yet-being.” (154) from here his program is created not for him but by him. This gives mankind his complete freedom in the world. This is another key in the existentialist belief system. The freedom of choice to be what you decide to be. Ortega states that, “I can do this or that. If I do this, I shall be A the moment after; if I do that, I shall be B.” (155) No matter what man chooses to do, and it is freedom to choose either or, he is what he chooses the moment after. Since he has the complete choice to choose (freedom) this also leads to the statement that man is a conscious subject and not a thing to be predicted. His actions couldn’t be predicted because that would mean he wasn’t free to choose. Ortega also says that “I am free by compulsion, whether I wish to be or not.” (156) This is to say that just by existing he is free. From the moment man is born, he decides what is to happen to him. He has complete control over all aspects of his existence. There is no written rule of what will happen, what he will do, or what will happen if he chooses

certain paths for his life. Each choice leads to a new part of his existence, a new way of seeing the painting of his life. Existentialism is a philosophy of life that is not like any other. It moves away from logic and more to a sense of feeling and individual ideals. Basic concepts include that existence precedes essence, the idea of bad faith (not being true to one’s self), meaningless of life, individual freedom, and the human experiences of meaningless. Though “Man Has No Nature” only quickly stepped into an understanding of a view of these ideas and how Ortega is an Existentialist.

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Matthew Kassin April 29, 2002 116-66-4037 Philosophy 13 Section 7

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Matthew Kassin Matthew Kassin Courier/IT @ TRD and Owner CEO @ Kass Dynamics http://www.kassdynamics.us