Existentialism is a philosophical movement that has gained immense popularity in the 20th century. It emerged as a response to the disillusionment caused by the two World Wars, and emphasized on individual freedom and choice.
The movement was characterized by its focus on subjective experience, anxiety, and the search for meaning in life. Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus are some of the prominent existentialists who have contributed to this school of thought.
Despite its popularity in the past, many people wonder if existentialism is still relevant today. In this article, we will explore the current state of existentialism and its relevance in modern times.
Existentialism – A Brief Overview
Existentialism originated in Europe in the early 20th century and was heavily influenced by World War II. It rejected traditional Western philosophy that focused on objective reality and instead emphasized subjective experience. Existentialists believed that individuals are responsible for creating their own meaning in life and making choices based on their personal values.
The philosophy gained immense popularity among writers, artists, and intellectuals who were disillusioned by traditional values and institutions. Existentialist literature often explored themes of alienation, despair, and meaninglessness.
The Popularity of Existentialism
Existentialism gained widespread popularity during the mid-20th century. Its ideas influenced various fields such as literature, psychology, sociology, and even theology. The works of Jean-Paul Sartre such as “Being and Nothingness” and “Nausea” became best-sellers across Europe.
In France during the 1940s-50s, existentialist themes influenced popular culture through films such as “The 400 Blows” by François Truffaut or “Breathless” by Jean-Luc Godard which were both highly acclaimed for their portrayal of everyday life.
Is Existentialism Still Relevant Today?
Existentialism’s popularity has undoubtedly waned since its heyday in the mid-20th century. However, its ideas are still relevant today and continue to influence modern culture.
The focus on individual freedom and choice is still prevalent in modern society, where people are encouraged to pursue their passions and create their own paths in life. Many people resonate with the idea that they are responsible for creating their own meaning in life and making choices based on their personal values.
Moreover, existentialist themes continue to be explored in literature, art, and music. Contemporary writers such as Haruki Murakami and Chuck Palahniuk have been heavily influenced by existentialist philosophy in their works.
The Legacy of Existentialism
Existentialism has left a lasting legacy on Western culture. Its emphasis on individual freedom and choice has influenced various fields such as psychology, sociology, and literature. Its themes of alienation, despair, and meaninglessness continue to resonate with people today.
In conclusion, while existentialism may not be as popular as it once was, its ideas continue to influence modern culture. The focus on individual freedom and choice is still prevalent today, and many people resonate with the idea of creating their own meaning in life. Existentialism’s legacy will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.