There is No Purpose in Life

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Diana Padilla

Mr. Perez

English 1301

7 September 2011

There is No Purpose in Life

Existentialism is an idea that claims that the purpose of existence should be seen and acted upon seriously and maturely. It states that once an individual makes a choice, executes an action, and/or has a strong belief in someone or something must commit to it eternally even if it leads to negative consequences. That person must accept the reality and confront the consequence as a result of their decision Existentialism (2010).

On the contrary to existentialism, nihilism is the belief that all values are untrue and have no accurate or stable foundation therefore nothing can really be known or communicated Pratt (2005). “Everything lacks meaning” (the untenability of one interpretation of the world, upon which a tremendous amount of energy has been lavished, awakens the suspicion that all interpretations of the world are false)” The Will to Power (1886). Because one must commit to one’s actions, choices, and beliefs incessantly, then all consequences of each decision in a lifetime will most likely not be positive. Therefore, existentialism and nihilism portray that since each day of life will not be of joy then the life and the world itself are senseless.

Elements of existentialism common among the philosophers Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Dostoevsky are that one must be responsible of one’s decisions, ideas/beliefs, and actions must face the consequences (positive or negative) that result.

Nietzsche is concerned that “God is dead in the hearts of modern men killed by rationalism and science” Friedrich Nietzsche: God is Dead (11/12/10). Previous to the elimination of the usual faith in God of people, this belief created "Christian-moral" among them “defining and uniting approach to life as a shared cultural set of beliefs that had defined a social and cultural outlook within which people had lived their lives” Friedrich Nietzsche: God is Dead (1/12/10). But because this is no longer the same, Nietzsche suggests that the acceptance of the Death of God will as well include the termination of the accepted standards of morality and of purpose which indicates that both believing and not believing in God would lead to living by it lifelong.

Kierkegaard’s position involving existentialism is that of disbelief of the possibility of the existence of an existential system since he claims that “no actually existing human being can possess “all truth” (all knowledge) Pattison (2005). Kierkegaard believes that a logical system with laws that do not contradict each other is an easier idea to live by as long as information of the matters of the world is not provided. Kierkegaard views to logic as imaginary and without having any significance to existence in reality. To Kierkegaard, in other words, existence is unclear, but a person’s identity is determined and depends on the life he or she lived Soren Kierkegaard Biography Philosophy of Existentialism (11/12/10).

In Dostoevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment, the protagonist (lunatic) commits a murder in belief that a higher power dominates this decision and action, as well as to see if he can get away with it. In the course of the story, the protagonist feels like he is not able to live with the sin and ends up turning himself in for the murder as urged by one of his friends. From the story, it can be concluded that Dostoevsky wrote the story in order to understand the concept of human existence McBride (1997). In addition to this, since existence was being explored, it can be said that Dostoevsky believed that once a person makes a decision and achieves it, then the person must also commit to the results of that decision; the protagonist of Dostoevsky’s story was not able to live with the guilt, consciously brought attention to himself about the murder, and finally decided to confess to authorities. At the end, as the protagonist is suffering the consequences of his actions, he mentally begins to recover, likely indicating that Dostoevsky intended to say that life should be taken seriously and responsibly.

Each of these philosophers (Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Dostoevsky) would respond to nihilism by saying that either in reality nothing has purpose or meaning (Nietzsche and Kierkegaard) or that it is less unreasonable than reason and only lead to death (Dostoevsky).

Nietzsche would individually respond to the nihilism by that the acceptance of nihilism among society will involve the ending of established standards of morality and of course, purpose. Without the former and accepted faith founded standards society is accustomed to, the “stability” of these standards is likely to result in is threatened by a situation in which where people’s lives are not as lucidly guided by these standards terminating all purpose leading to destruction. “Every belief, every considering something-true is necessarily false because there is simply no true world” Will to Power (1886). According to Nietzsche, nihilism obliges a drastic denial of all values and sense enforced by society in order to accomplish or justify nihilism. “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power).

Kierkegaard’s response to nihilism is that life has no purpose for the reason that all good things will come to an end. According to him, existential lives were lives lived in search of “pleasure, novelty, and romantic individualism” Soren Kierkegaard Biography Philosophy of Existentialism (11/12/10). Kierkegaard believed that “pleasure”, "novelty", and "romantic individualism" would sooner or later be likely to to dwindle and/or become meaningless and this would inevitably lead to boredom and restlessness.

Dostoevsky believes that nihilism is dangerous. He believed that the thought that the belief of the lack of meaning and purpose was unproductive and eventually lead to death as he saw it in generation after generation in the nihilist Russia Hudspith (2004). Dostoevsky views nihilism as the belief that existence is meaningless and should be destroyed and that yet this idea is even more "irrational" in its reasoning and justification than existentialism; which nihilism opposes Hudspith (2004). Dostoevsky’s idea of this can be found in his work, The Devils, in which the protagonist’s plan to simply destroy only leading him to torture by his own errors which is irrational Hudspith (2004).

All philosophers were existential because they sustained to their beliefs accepting, realizing, and taking seriously the consequences of their ideas. This then, hypothetically, lead only Nietzsche and Kierkegaard to as well simultaneously be nihilists for the reason that they realized that there was no purpose in life because “all action, suffering, and feeling–is ultimately senseless and empty” Pratt (2005). It can be concluded that existentialism can be related to nihilism. In essence, both existentialism and nihilism indicate that in reality, no purpose or meaning exists living beings or perhaps life itself.

Works Cited

Existentialism. 11 Oct. 2010

Friedrich Nietzsche: God is Dead. 12 November 2010.

Hudspith, Sarah. Dostoevsky and the Idea of Russianness. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004. The Dramatization in Dostoevsky’s fiction of themes found in Slavophile thought, 88-150.

McBride, William L. Sartre and Existentialism. New York: Garland Publishing, 1997. Dostoevsky and Existentialism: An Experiment in Hermeneutics, 83-92.

Pattison, George. The Philosophy of Kierkegaard. Quebec: Acumen Publishing Limited, 2005, 1950. Chapter 1: Existence, 12-45.

Pratt, Alan. Nihilism. 2001. Web. 03 May 2005.

The Will to Power. 1886. Web.

Nietzsche, Friedrich The Will to Power - Book I. mht

Soren Kierkegaard Biography Philosophy of Existentialism. 12 November 2010.

Is the essay a minimum of 700 words?

Does it hold a correct MLA heading with a last name and page number in the upper right hand corner?

-It had the right heading, but she needs to add the page number and last name.
What is the author’s thesis? Is it argumentative, factual or simply a summary?

-The thesis is very argumentative. “Therefore, existentialism and nihilism portray that since each day of life will not be of joy then the life and the world itself are senseless”

If the thesis statement is valid – explain why so?

The author present an argument through her thesis, and makes her point and gives reasoning behind it.

What two examples (exemplification drafts must have a minimum of TWO examples), has the author posted to validate and accredit their thesis statement? Remember that an example is like an extended mini-story supporting the thesis statement.
Example One: The author gives many examples on the views several philosophers had on existentialism and nihilism that back up her thesis.
Example Two: The author also uses a story written about a murderer who has to deal with his actions (backs up existentialism theory)
Do the authors examples “show, explain, or prove a point,” thus validating the thesis statement. Explain how the examples validate or do not validate the thesis statement.

-The authors examples back up nihilism and existentialism thoroughly. She can make it a little clearer on how the examples relate to life is worth something when you have disappointments and joy.

What is the essays greatest strength? Explain thoroughly.

-The essays greatest strength is the examples. They are clear, and relate to the thesis.

What is the essays greatest weakness? Explain thoroughly.

-The essays greatest weakness is it word choice. A lot of what the author said could have been put simpler and more concise.

Organization: Is the essay properly organized? How so? How not so?

The organization of the essay makes perfect sense. You can follow all the ideas presented with no problem.

Word Choice: Does the author utilize appropriate use of words across his writing? Is it formal, informal, slang? Is it appropriate scholarly language? How so? How not so?

-The word choice is formal and very appropriate for the essay. However, many words were included that weren’t necessary. The point could’ve been communicated without all the extra words added. It made it confusing to read.

Fluency: Is the writing fluent. Are sentence too varied throughout (long, short, long short). Or are they consistent all the way across?

-The essay is pretty fluent. Some sentences had the same structure, but overall is was good.

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