New Existentialism

‘Existentialism states that the most important fact about man is his ability to change himself.’


‘And it is just this fact that all the scientists and social reformers have failed to realise. They think that the only thing that needs to be changed is man’s circumstances, his environment.’


‘Existentialism is the revolt against mere logic and reason. It is a plea for intuition and vision. It is a plea for recognising oneself as being involved in the problems of existence as a participant, not just as a spectator.’


‘For Plato, it was as important to emphasise Socrates’ greatness as a man as to show his brilliance as a thinker. This is existentialism, and in this sense, Shaw is the only other existentialist thinker of the same rank as Goethe and Plato.’


‘But freed from the bondage of the trivial and the immediate, man plunges into a world of new sensations and new self-discovery. This is the real meaning of the word education; the profoundest of all senses, in which Goethe uses it in Wilhelm Meister. Real education means existentialism, and existentialism means exploring one’s inner world scientifically.’


‘And here we see that the concept of existentialism involves inevitably the idea of self-discipline and self-transformation — the religious idea.’


‘The existentialist is the artist-philosopher, and his natural medium is the Bildungsroman: the novel or play which is about the maturing of its central character through the impact of his experience. Examples of this are Wilhelm Meister, The Brothers Karamazov, Meredith’s Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Mann’s Magic Mountain, Hesse’s Demian, Sartre’s Chemins de la Liberté, Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, Joyce’s Portrait, Shaw’s Immaturity.’


‘True existentialism cannot be communicated in ordinary logical language; it can only be expressed in the drama, in poetry (and it is no coincidence that Eliot has stated that all great poetry is dramatic in essence), in the novel.’


‘True existentialism is the dramatic investigation of human nature through the medium of art. The true existentialist philosopher is the ‘artist-philosopher’ of whom Shaw spoke in Man and Superman.’