Existentialism is a philosophical movement that gained popularity in the mid-20th century. It focuses on the individual’s subjective experience and freedom, as well as the search for meaning and purpose in life.

One of the most significant questions about existentialism is whether it is truly a humanism, or if it is an anti-humanistic philosophy. In this article, we will delve into this question and explore both sides of the argument.

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It suggests that individuals are responsible for creating their own meaning in life, rather than finding it through external sources like society or religion. Existentialists believe that every person has their own unique experience of the world, and that there is no universal truth or meaning.

What is Humanism?

Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings. It focuses on human reason, ethics, and justice, rather than supernatural or divine powers. Humanists believe in the power of education and rational thinking to solve problems in society.

Existentialism as a Humanism

Some argue that existentialism is truly a humanistic philosophy because it emphasizes individual freedom and choice. Existentialists believe that every person has their own unique experience of life, which should be respected and valued. They suggest that individuals have the power to create their own meaning in life through their choices and actions.

Existentialists also recognize the importance of personal responsibility for one’s actions. They suggest that individuals must take responsibility for their choices, even if they are difficult or unpleasant. This focus on personal responsibility aligns with humanistic values of autonomy and agency.

The Role of Ethics

Furthermore, existentialists often emphasize ethics as an essential component of human existence. They suggest that individuals must make ethical choices based on their own values and beliefs, rather than blindly following societal norms or expectations. This focus on ethical decision-making aligns with humanistic values of reason and justice.

Existentialism as an Anti-Humanism

On the other hand, some argue that existentialism is an anti-humanistic philosophy because it focuses on the individual experience rather than collective action. They suggest that existentialism is too focused on personal freedom and choice, which can lead to selfishness and a lack of concern for others.

Furthermore, existentialists often reject traditional moral frameworks in favor of individual ethics. This rejection of moral absolutes can be seen as anti-humanistic because it suggests that there are no universal ethical standards that apply to all people.

The Absurdity of Existence

Finally, some argue that existentialism is anti-humanistic because it suggests that life is inherently absurd and meaningless. They suggest that this focus on the irrationality of existence undermines humanistic values of reason and progress.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the question of whether existentialism is truly a humanism is complex and multifaceted. While some argue that it aligns with humanistic values of individual freedom and ethical decision-making, others suggest that its focus on personal experience and rejection of traditional morality make it an anti-humanistic philosophy. Ultimately, the answer may depend on one’s interpretation of both existentialism and humanism, as well as their own personal beliefs about the nature of existence and humanity.