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Friedrich Nietzsche

1844-1900. German philosopher, son of Lutheran minister, wrote in a provocative and poetic style, had the idea that the West overemphasized rationality, thus stifling passion & animal instinct that affect human activity & creativity. Questioned values. Christianity glorified weakness, envy, & mediocrity. Reason, democracy, progress, & respectability are outworn and suffocating self-realization and excellence

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1922. The idea that philosophy is purely the logical clarification of thoughts. God, freedom, morality, etc are senseless & a waste of time because they can't be tested or proven by science or logical thinking

Jean-Paul Sartre

1905-1980. French existentialist. Idea: Human beings simply exist. There is no supreme being (Existentialism). Humans are alone, because there is no God to help them. They are in despair and have a meaningless life.


There is no supreme being. Humans are alone, because there is no God to help them. They are in despair and have a meaningless life. Shattering of beliefs in God, reason, and progress. Human beings can overcome life's absurdity if they take action. Give meaning to life through actions, define oneself with your choices.

Soren Kirkegaard

1813-1855. Danish religious philosopher. Rejected formalistic religion. Made a total religious commitment to a remote and majestic God.

Karl Barth

1886-1968. Swiss Protestant theologian. Re-create religious intensity of Reformation. Human beings are sinful, imperfect - their reason and will are flawed. Religious truth is only possible through obedient acceptance of God. You cannot "reason" with God.

Einstein's theory of special relativity

Time and space are relative to the viewpoint of the observer and that only the speed of light is constant for all frames of reference in the universe. Think of the train idea. A woman walking the hall of a train while the train is in motion has walked only a couple feet from her perspective. But from the perspective of someone outside the train, she has gone farther.

Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle"

Because it is impossible to know the position and speed of an individual electron, it is therefore impossible to predict its behavior. Rational laws don't exist - only tendencies and probabilities exist.


primitive, irrational unconscious. Driven by sexual, aggressive, and pleasure-seeking desires. Locked in a battle with other parts of the mind


What a person can do. Rationalizing conscious


ingrained moral values, what a person should do


The stifling of sexual desires due to the mechanisms of rational thinking and traditional values


(psychology) modifying the natural expression of an impulse or instinct (especially a sexual one) to one that is socially acceptable

Stream-of-consciousness technique

ideas and emotions from different periods of time bubble up randomly - then you write a book using that stuff

"anti-utopian" literature

nightmare visions of things to come - in book form

The Decline of the West

1918. By Oswald Spengler. Anti-utopian book. Written by an obscure German high-school teacher. About how Western civilization is declining, and will be taken over by the "yellow people". Every culture experiences a life cycle of growth and decline.

logical empiricism

rejected traditional philosophy. No God, no meaning of happiness. Popular in English-speaking countries. Philosophy stuff is crazy because none of it can be proven by science and logic.

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