Existentialism: Serial Killer and Right Thing Essay examples

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Matthew Shanahan HUM 221 Wed.
Existentialism In the 1940’s through the 1950’s existentialism started to take off as a commonplace philosophy. During this time period it flourished as a European movement. (1) “Like “rationalism” and “empiricism,” “existentialism” is a term that belongs to intellectual history.” The definition of existentialism is a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. In other words you make your own rules and your own ethics if you see them to be right, no one or any higher power makes your rules, they are your own. This term has been used to describe true freedom. If we are truly free then we may act as we please and in a way of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism was a term coined by John Stuart Mill saying that you should expand the good in your life in whatever way pleases you most, within reason. This slightly differs from existentialism in the manner that you have to use reason in consideration to others with utilitarianism. With existentialism it is all about the individual/yourself, if it feels right to you and you see it to be right then it is right no creator or authority can tell you what is right. An easy way of separating the two would be to look at it this way; if you like to get drunk, then get drunk but within reason, don’t kill yourself or harm others, just drink and have a little fun (utilitarianism). You can drink as much as you want, get in a car and drive and murder people and if that is the right thing to do in your mind then it is right, and no one can tell you otherwise (existentialism). The Beat Generation were people who practiced existentialism by expressing themselves through music and poetry. They believed that the music they listened to was the right music so they played it. They believed that America was wrong about almost everything and would even claim to be radical things such as communists in their poetry because they believed that was the right thing to do. Who cares what America is telling me I should think and how to feel, I am who I am and my beliefs may not match theirs but I believe them to be right and who are they to tell me that they are wrong. I make my own decisions. They would use reason and exercise their right to freedom of speech. (That very generally sums it up). At least they were not violent with their beliefs which is sadly not the case for a lot of others who used this same philosophy. Famous people who have abused existentialism are Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffery Dahmer and Theodor Bundy. Ted Bundy was a picture perfect example of existentialism at its worst. He would tell his victims before he killed them (2) “Why does your life matter more than any other animal? The way I see it, we are all put here the same way. There is no difference between you and I nor is there a difference between us and a pig. Look at what we do to pigs, is that wrong? When a lion attacks an animal just to leave it to die, is that wrong to other lions? Just because it pleases the one lion? The answer is no. So if it pleases me to kill you then there is no difference, you are just another pig or any other animal, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time for this lion.” That is the most abusive for of existentialism if I ever saw it. Hitler convinced a countries throughout Europe that killing the Jews was the right thing to do because