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Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and

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Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2017, 19:26
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Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the most important consideration for individuals is the fact that they are an individual—an independently acting and responsible, conscious being ("existence")—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits ("essence"). The actual life of the individual constitutes what could be called their "true essence" instead of an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them. Thus, human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA & OE
Since no hint is given in the question stem about where to look, you must assess each answer choice individually. For (A), “19th and 20th century philosophers” are discussed in the first sentence. You learn that “certain” 19th and 20th century philosophers had profound doctrinal differences but you have no idea if “most did”. Be careful of answer choices like this one that go a little too far on inference questions. If (A) said “some” instead of “most” it would be correct. For (B) “style and content” are discussed at the end of the first paragraph but there is no way to make this type of comparison inference from that information. The inference in (C) is harder to find, but it must be true based on this sentence: “Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.” If existentialists believe that traditional philosophies are “too remote from concrete human experience” then they must “favor a deeper connection to human experience than traditional philosophies.” (D) is a play on words from several sections in the passage but is definitely not inferable, and for (E) there is no comparison made between whether “true essence” is more or less important than the individual. Answer is (C).

1. It can be inferred from the passage that:

(A) Most late 19th and 20th century philosophers had profound doctrinal differences

(B) Style is more important than value in existential philosophy.

(C) Existentialism favors a deeper connection to human experience than traditional philosophies.

(D) Existential philosophers were frequently confused by traditional philosophies.

(E) A core notion of existentialism is that “true essence” supersedes the individual.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
In this type of illustrate the principle question, you must first understand the defining characteristics of the “existential attitude” and then pick the situation that best matches it. In the passage, the “existential attitude” is defined as: “a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world”. Therefore you need a situation that meets all aspects of this definition. In (A), (C), and (E) you have a situation that contains the “sense of disorientation and confusion” but lacks the “apparently meaningless or absurd world”, so all three are incorrect. In (D), you lack the “sense of disorientation and confusion” so it is also incorrect. Only (B) gets all aspects of the definition: the woman is “confused

2. Which of the following situations best illustrates the “existential attitude”?

(A) A confused man wanders through an orderly and structured parking lot trying to find his car

(B) A confused woman contemplates charges for something that she never did and that never happened.

(C) A disoriented dog gets lost in a large, well-manicured park, but is found by his owners later.

(D) A purposeful student sits in an outdoor art gallery with no boundaries or logic and contemplates life.

(E) A disoriented sailor finishes 2nd in an outcome that was expected by some and doubted by others.


[Reveal] Spoiler: OA & OE
To answer this question, go back to where “true essence” is used in the end of the 2nd paragraph: “The actual life of the individual constitutes what could be called their "true essence" instead of an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.” As you can see, answer choice (D) rephrases this sentence almost exactly and is thus the correct answer. (A) refers back to “essence” not “true essence” so it is incorrect. For (B), no comparison is made between the importance of those two things so it is also incorrect. (C) is probably the trickiest of the incorrect answer choices: After the sentence containing “true essence” you see that human beings, THROUGH their consciousness, create certain things…” It does not say they use their “true essence” to create their consciousness. For (E), the passage does not contrast those two things so it is also incorrect. Answer is (D).

3. The author uses the term “true essence” in order to:

(A) identify the preconceived categories in which the individual fits

(B) emphasize the importance of individualism over consciousness

(C) show how human beings create their own consciousness

(D) define the true life of an individual in contrast to that created by others

(E) contrast the individual with the true self

[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #1 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #2 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #3 OA

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Re: Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2017, 19:35
Got the first and the third answers correct. I faltered in the second question. Could anyone explain the second answer please??

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Re: Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and   [#permalink] 02 Nov 2017, 19:35
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