What we're about

The Existentialist Society is for those who question whether life has a meaning and a purpose. And for those who despairingly ponder whether one can live without self-deception or without hedonistic escapism. Yet who, despite the anguish of life's futility and meaninglessness, still seek purpose and an authentic existence.

The Existentialist Society is for those who are fascinated by the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir, Nicholas Berdyaev, Martin Buber, Rudolph Bultmann, Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Viktor Frankl, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Franz Kafka, Nikos Kazantzakis, Soren Kierkegaard, R.D. Laing, Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Max Stirner, Paul Tillich, Colin Wilson, etc.

'Existentialism' is an umbrella term covering diverse and often conflicting schools of thought. Consequently we are not agreed on who or what is an Existentialist; we simply agree to disagree. 
Inspired by the Student Revolt of the late Sixties, the Existentialist Society commenced in 1971.

LECTURES take place at 2pm on the first Saturday of the month. 
All are welcome. Participation is free.
NOTE: Due to the pandemic, our physical Meetups and lectures have been cancelled. Our lectures are now online via Zoom.

Following our monthly lecture, during the extended question and discussion period, additional comments are encouraged from those of our participants who might have more knowledge than the speaker on particular aspects of the topic, as well as from those who have an alternative viewpoint. 
Sometimes our lecture topics have no direct bearing upon Existentialism. The speakers on such topics may or may not be conversant with Existentialism.

The Existentialist Society has no formal membership, so there is no membership fee.

See the Existentialist Society website for future lectures, past transcripts and videos etc: www.existentialistmelbourne.org

Facebook: Please feel free to comment on the lectures: - www.facebook.com/Existentialist-Society-866984573402226/

Upcoming events (4+)

Wittgenstein's Concept of Language Games

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AGNOSTICS GROUP - Melbourne, Australia.
Some of us are participating in their online presentation.
Remco Van Santen will present the topic and lead the discussion.

Ludwig Wittgenstein was a one-time protégé of Bertrand Russell describing him as “….perfect example….. of genius” and who inspired the Vienna Circle of philosophers. Turning logic against the Analytical School, he created the space for the Continental School of philosophy, notably the Postmodernists. However, the most brilliant of his followers and translator of his writings wrote, “I feel deeply suspicious of anyone’s claim to have understood Wittgenstein. That is perhaps because I am very sure that I did not understand him.” Wittgenstein is searched for twice as often as his teacher, Russell.

Wittgenstein challenges our ideas about language. We still live in the shadow of the Augustine’s Confessions which gave us the idea that “the words in language name objects,” so, despite its plausibility, this reduction of language to representation is not doing justice to language according to Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein helps us understand the complex subtlety of language and by that can shift our understanding of it and even how we might think to respond to emails, the news and to everyday interaction with each other.
Even conspiracy theories are a major concern which are often dismissed outright with some seeking their control. So too religion is often reproached and rejected on scientific terms. Wittgenstein cautions us that we place too much emphasis on content and instead we need to select the appropriate ‘language game’.

Insights will be shared about what has been concluded since Wittgenstein’s death in 1951, especially the profound challenge to the way we think we communicate.

Remco Van Santen's Bio:
In a former life Remco was a chemical engineer who is today enchanted by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951), a former aeronautical engineer who became a protégé of Bertrand Russell and is now acknowledged as the most significant philosopher since at least WW2.
Remco feels we need more out of ‘left field’ thinkers in philosophy to avoid the rut of simplicity and the seduction by the Analytical School of philosophy which is dominant in the English speaking countries.
While he sees Wittgenstein creating a space for Relational Quantum Mechanics, more importantly for us all, Ludwig introduced the ‘Language Game’ and cautions us against the risk of seduction by the apparent clarity of the ‘Picture Theory’.
Wittgenstein, shattered shibboleths, created space for the Continental School of philosophers, and for all of us, offers a way to tune into the deeper, profound, levels of communication. He legitimised ‘agnostic’ thinking with his famous “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

The Agnostics Group discusses the pros and cons of Agnosticism.
They welcome ALL viewpoints, including criticism of Agnosticism.
Past and future Agnostics Group topics.

The ZOOM link will appear for those who RSVP.
Meeting ID:[masked] - - Passcode:[masked]

The Pompey/Aristobulus Enigma

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EXISTENTIALIST MEETUP - Melbourne, Australia.
Our monthly online Meetup presentation on the History of Religion.
David Miller will introduce the topic and lead the discussion.
All viewpoints welcome.

Early Religion: An Alternative History
What do the historians and archaeologists think of the veracity of religious legends? Legends are an amalgamation of history and mythology.
But how much of each?

What could be the reason for the puzzling relationship between the Roman General Pompey and the Judean King Aristobulus II, leading to their inexplicably turbulent behaviour, and the consequent siege of Jerusalem in 63 BC ?

For those interested in background reading:
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompey

The ZOOM link will appear for those who RSVP.
Meeting ID:[masked] - - Passcode:[masked]

Existentialist Society's Website

The Divine Feminine

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Some of us are participating in SoFiA's online event.
Evanique Lindsey (New York) will present the topic and lead the discussion:

The Divine Feminine: We will be discussing female goddesses from around the globe and from different historical periods, as well as their male counterparts. We will be taking a look at feminine and masculine energies as a way to appreciate and understand life forces.
There are many different versions of each goddess’s story. I will be using the book “Goddess Power: Awakening the Wisdom of the Divine Feminine in your Life,” by Isabella Price.
Exploring the divine feminine has been impactful for many people. They say that they have benefitted by becoming aware of the “heroine’s quest,” (the counterpart to the “hero’s journey”). They also report benefitting from the opportunity to hear and speak about the importance of the divine feminine for themselves and others.

The ZOOM link will eventually appear on this page for those who RSVP.

SoFiA promotes the open exploration of religion, spirituality and the search for meaning. They welcome ALL viewpoints, including Atheism.

SOFiA Website.
Facebook: 'Sofiatalk' - Your opinions would be appreciated in their ongoing discussions.

A Radical Humanist Perspective

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ATHEIST SOCIETY - Melbourne, Australia.
Some of us are participating in their online event.
John August (Humanist Society of New South Wales)
will present the topic and lead the discussion.

John hosts the Roving Spotlight Radio Show:
2RSR 88.9FM - Tuesdays Noon to 2pm.

The ZOOM link will eventually appear for those who RSVP.

The Atheist Society welcomes ALL viewpoints, including criticism of Atheism.
Facebook and Website for past and future Atheist Society topics, etc.

Past events (312)

Simone de Beauvoir and "The Ethics of Ambiguity"

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Photos (9)