Over the past two weeks I have been listening to a series of lectures on existentialist philosophy. In the past I have had a bit of antipathy toward existentialism. This arose from my dealings from the few self-proclaimed existentialists I have met. Particularly, a Sartre toting and (mis)quoting fellow in Fairbanks, Alaska, whose constant refrain was "I don't care about my life." I could not brook such a philosophy.
I should have known better. As I wend my way through this series of 24 lectures I am finding a very different meaning of existentialism than that which I had heretofore believed. Freedom to choose and responsibility for oneself are the real character of the philosophy of Camus and Sartre, in its simplest form. They (and others) contend that no matter the situation we still have choices and are responsible for the outcome of those choices. We cannot simply let life happen to us. Thus the old excuse of "I had no choice ..." does not hold. Echos of Socrates here.
It is not hard to envision situations where such philosophy would lead to a very severe judgement upon one. We must not expect too much. After all we are only human. Or is that just an excuse? Based on this interpretation, one could opine that existentialism may well be just the philosophy for our current era.
The irony here was Sartre's support of Stalin and Castro et al. How could one argue for freedom of choice and individual responsibility while supporting a system that sought to eliminate individualism, and those who brutally enforced such a system? Camus couldn't figure that out and it ended his friendship with Sartre.
The honey beer is in its 20 day and still turning over the lock. It has slowed, but is still not quite ready for the bottle. The "Old British Ale" is chuggin' right along.