Category Archives: Freedom and responsibility

Existential youtube

For light relief. A wonderful youtube video about feline existence:

 

And one about the existence of a croissant:

 

And existential Star Wars:

Simone de Beauvoir and gender today

9/3/12 Meg Barker

March 8th marked International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures’. I would like to take the opportunity here to celebrate my own favourite feminist, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). I will look back to the past to see if what she had to say about gender still holds today, and what her theories might mean for the kinds of futures that we want to inspire – for girls and for everyone.

One is not born, but rather one becomes, a woman.

Perhaps the most famous quote from de Beauvoir’s writing on gender, The Second Sex, is this one. Here she is arguing, from autobiographical experience and from the available evidence at the time, that the things associated with womenhood (such as being passive, concerned with appearance, childlike and in need of protection, and wanting to care for others) are imposed upon women by society rather than being innate characteristics they are born with.

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Happiness at the Northern Existential Group

10/2/12 by Meg Barker

10th February 2012 was the fourth meeting of the Northern Existential Group (NEG). This time we focused our discussions on Bo Jacobsen‘s paper What is happiness? The concept of happiness in existential psychology and therapy, which was published in the journal Existential Analysis in 2007. Here I will present a brief overview of the paper and then summarise our discussions about the nature of happiness and what an existential perspective might have to offer on the subject. We were also very lucky to receive a response to this summary from Bo Jacobsen himself, which is included at the end of this post.

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Authenticity and R. D. Laing

24th November 2011 saw the third meeting of the Northern Existential Group (NEG). This month our reading was a paper called ‘A Road Less Travelled‘ by M. Guy Thompson. Based on the author’s own relationship with R.D. Laing, the paper wove together biography of the famous ‘anti-psychiatrist’ with an account of his understanding of the concept of ‘authenticity’. What did authenticity mean to Laing, and how well did he embody it within his own life?

This paper was a perfect one for the NEG as our discussions tend to focus on the personal and pragmatic issues of the concepts under consideration. Are these existential ideas something that we want to strive for in our own lives and, if so, how might we go about that?

Here we will briefly introduce R. D. Laing for those who are unfamiliar with him. We will outline the concept of authenticity as it is presented in M. Guy Thompson’s paper, and then give a flavour of the NEG discussion on the topic.

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Hell is other people? The Northern Existential Group discuss No Exit

2nd June 2011 saw the inaugural meeting of the Northern Existential Group (a Manchester-based version of the London-based Society for Existential Analysis discussion group). For our first session we chose to discuss the Jean-Paul Sartreplay No Exit: a marvellously accessible introduction to the ideas of the French existentialists, and particularly resonant in these days of reality TV shows which place contestants in a very similar situation to the one in which his characters find themselves.

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