No, this is not a class I plan on taking next semester. However it is a new discipline of thought detailed in a book by the same name.
Existentialism is not a very old philosophical discipline itself. It is maybe 150 years old. A lot of euro types, mostly French, wrote about it back then and were either revered or called crackpots.
My only experience with existentialism in my University years was being forced to read Camus. The books I read made for good reading, and sort of reminded me of science fiction. When the class discussed the books, I was taken aback and left behind by the views other held as to the “meaning” of it all. So, in preparing for this blog I did a little research on existentialism, emphasis on little. What I will pass on to you quickly, so as to not bore you to death follows. If you get interested you can Google the subject for the rest of the night and get as twisted by it as I am now.
Existentialism may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. Further it can be described as a gesture of protest against academic philosophy, its anti-system sensibility, its flight from the “iron cage” of reason.
Ok thats enough of that. Like I said, look it up if you need to know more. For now, lets get back to the subject of this post.
The philosopher who coined the phrase and wrote the book is Greg Madison, PhD. He now gets paid to lecture about it and actually do counseling for some expats who have not figured out why they are where they are. In his book he sums up his thesis thusly.
Unlike economic migration, simple wanderlust, exile, or variations of forced migration, ‘existential migration’ is conceived as a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about existence by leaving one’s homeland and becoming a foreigner.
Does that sound like anyone you know? Me perhaps? Perhaps YOU?
He goes on to say;
- Existential migrants discover more about themselves and feel more alive when confronting unfamiliar cultures. These individuals move cross-culturally, sometimes repeatedly, in search of self-understanding and adventure.
- The importance of trying to fulfil individual potentials, the importance of freedom and independence, openness to experiences of the mystery of life, and the valuing of difference and foreignness as a stimulus to personal awareness and broadening perspectives are consistent themes amongst existential migrants.
- Among this population there is a marked preference for the strange and foreign over the familiar or conventional.
- Most existential migrants leave their home cultures because they never felt ‘at home’ in the first place. For some, the choice to leave can eventually result in not being at home anywhere in the world, leaving these individuals to live within a sort of ‘homelessness’ that includes a complex mix of inconsolable loss as well as perpetual adventure and self-discovery.
- The ‘feeling of home’ arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. This is in contrast to the usual definition of home as geographical place.