Giving the void its colours: The art of living in existential paradox

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Existential counselling
Existential paradox
Existential givens
Human motivation

The scholarship of many existential thinkers has been dedicated to how humans can live with an awareness of existential paradox without attempts at denial or reconciliation that may lead to destructive behaviour. This thesis continues this inquiry and explores the art of living with this condition without attempts at reconciliation. More specifically, it consists of five paper-based chapters each offering possibilities for the continued development of an art of living in existential paradox. The first paper explores how Schneider’s awe-based life philosophy, when combined with Buber’s I-Thou philosophy and hermeneutic inquiry, may mitigate the potential negative consequences of existential paradox. The second paper examines the potential link between reactions to existential givens of existence and adult attachment styles, which may help explain why some individuals live more readily with the absurdity of the human condition. In the third paper, the oeuvres of Camus and Becker are examined with respect to how absurd creation may be used as a practice that facilitates lucid awareness and acceptance of existential paradox. The fourth paper is an exploration that combines Epicurean and existential philosophy to imagine how an expanded view of human motivation might lead to new ways of living with existential paradox. The final paper explores the practice of purposefully leaning into existential paradox to trigger aesthetic experiences of awe, which may help to positively reframe one’s experience of existential realities. The last chapter explores how the gleanings from each of the papers may be applied and contribute to the field of counselling and psychotherapy, which would form an integral part of an art of living in existential paradox.

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Sean Blenkinsop
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.