God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide not

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God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.” –Blaise Pascal
Due to current scientific, psychological and sociological studies and discoveries of the time, many factors led to questions about faith based systems, existence, meaning, purpose, and god. long held belief systems were being questioned and critiqued leading to further inquiries about the nature of existence. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are two 19th c. philosophers who tried to both express and cope with the human condition in this regard and who are forerunners to the most significant philosophy of the 20th century, namely, Existentialism.
Kierkegaard felt that there was a prevailing anxiety brought about by the sneaking suspicion that perhaps there is no grand design, prime mover, ultimate purpose or meaning to existence. This suspicion has a cultural dread and angst, which can only be addressed through a complete fall into despair and loss of faith, only when one has hit this bottom, can they be prepared to make a total and sincere “leap of faith” into god. Kierkegaard’s views gave the 20th c. its moniker: “The Age of Anxiety.”
Nietzsche felt that in some ways Kierkegaard was correct. There was no creator to appeal to for guidance in moral matters. Unlike Kierkegaard, however, Nietzsche felt that since “god was dead”, or our faith in this belief system was dead, we can appeal only to ourselves and not to a “nothingness”, as such Nietzsche’s views are often categorized as “nihilist.” Nietzsche stated that the source, guidance, and natural means for dealing with existence and moral/ethical choices is based in oneself and, more particularly, in a kind of “super[wo]man”, or “Ubermensch”. This is an individual who can make decisions “beyond good and evil”, in the sense that the individual acts on their own “triumph of the will”–the ability to act without any artificial moral constraints.
Essay Prompt:*
After viewing and reading the material below, discuss aspects of both philosophies that you agree with and those with which you disagree. What aspects of these philosophies do you, or do you not incorporate in your outlook on your existence, meaning, and purpose. Do you have a different philosophical outlook on “why we are here”?
*This should remain a purely academic approach to a subject that can be a sensitive and highly personal discussion for many, so no denigration of anyone’s views and no proselytizing (preaching to convert) is appropriate in your entries and submissions

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