Is Freedom a Theme of Existentialism?


Vincent White

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It is a worldview that focuses on the subjective experience of human beings and their search for meaning in an uncertain world. And one of the most prominent themes in existentialism is freedom.

What is freedom in existentialism?

Freedom in existentialism refers to the idea that individuals have complete control over their lives and choices. It means that we are not bound by predetermined destinies or external influences, but rather have the power to create our own paths. Freedom implies responsibility, as individuals must take ownership of their choices and actions.

Existentialist thinkers on freedom

Existentialist thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche believed that freedom was essential to human existence. Sartre famously stated that “man is condemned to be free,” meaning that even if we try to avoid making choices, we are still making a choice by not choosing.

Nietzsche believed that true freedom could only be achieved by rejecting traditional values and embracing one’s individual will to power. He argued that individuals should not conform to societal norms or religious beliefs but instead create their own values based on their unique experiences.

Is freedom absolute?

While existentialists emphasize the importance of individual freedom, they also recognize its limitations. Freedom cannot exist in isolation from others, as our choices impact those around us. For example, if we choose to harm someone else, we are limiting their freedom.

Additionally, there are external factors such as societal structures and economic systems that can limit an individual’s choices. For example, someone born into poverty may not have the same opportunities as someone born into wealth.

The paradox of freedom

The quest for freedom can also lead to feelings of anxiety and despair. When individuals realize they have complete control over their lives, they may feel overwhelmed by the weight of their choices. This is known as the paradox of freedom.

Existentialists argue that individuals must embrace this paradox and find meaning in the face of uncertainty. By taking responsibility for their choices and creating their own values, individuals can find purpose and fulfillment.

  • Conclusion

In conclusion, freedom is a central theme in existentialism. It emphasizes the individual’s power to choose their own path and take responsibility for their actions.

While freedom is essential to human existence, it is not absolute and can be limited by external factors. The quest for freedom can also lead to feelings of anxiety, but ultimately, individuals must embrace this paradox and create their own values to find meaning in an uncertain world.