What is Existentialism?
- We are totally free. That is, we are not determined by heredity or environment.
- Since there is no God to define our being, we must define our essence.
- We are completely responsible for our actions, and we are responsible for prescribing a moral philosophy for everyone else too. We create our morality.
- Because of the death of God and the human predicament, which leaves us free to create our own values, we must exist in anguish, forlornness, and despair.
- Yet we should celebrate the fact that we are the creators of our essence and our values.
Existence precedes essence. That is, we, existing entities, create our essence, our being, our values.
Consider the term “existential,” it is simply an adjective and a logical predicate of being. existential more commonly means for us “that which is given to us to be affected by.”
Shakespeare through Hamlet’s monologue said “to be, or not to be, that is the question.” The problem of being, however, doesn’t make Hamlet an existentialist. Being is that which happens to us, it is an act. It is not a passive “thing.” Being is a self determining proof from which we stand against beings that are other than human. we, as humans, are free to secede from being. Existentialism is perhaps fundamentally a study of evasions into meaning. Camus put it best,
the typical act of eluding…is hope. hope of another life one must “deserve” or trickery of those who live not life itself but for some great idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it meaning, and betray it.
Browse through some Existential Terms.
Browse through some Existential Writers:
Read about some Existential Films.