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Martin D' Arcy, S.J., suggested that Existentialism could lead to Christianity, in the Cardinal Newman Lecture last night. "By all means start off as an Existentialist if you move on," he advised.
The two good points of Existentialism, he stated, are that it demands "facing up to the worst" in a hostile universe and that it gives a sense of dread of nothing-ness. He calls this second point "a fundamental fact in human life" very much like the Old Testament sense of awe in the face of God.
D'Arcy said, however, that Existentialism alone is unsatisfactory. He suggested that the experience of being recognized by another human being offers a way out. Once a person can participate in human relationships, he will come to "a sense of a presence that brings love instead of a dread of nothingness."
D'Arcy stated that Existentialism grew up as a revolt against Renaissance rationalism, which gave a steadily diminishing importance to the self. Kierkegaard experienced "a deep sense of loneliness, isolation and absence of purpose" so characteristic of Existentialism.
D'Arcy traced the movement through the "extravagant language of the Germans, Nietzsche, Jaspers, and Heidegger and the more lucid French prose of Sartre and Camus. Meanwhile, Anglo-Saxon philosophy, intent upon 'linguistics,' fiddled while Rome burned."
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