What Are Five Key Ideas of Existentialism?


Jane Flores

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that believes in the existence of the individual’s freedom and choice. It emphasizes the uniqueness of each individual and their subjective experience of reality. Here are five key ideas of existentialism that define its philosophy:

1. Existence precedes essence

One of the fundamental concepts of existentialism is that human beings do not have a predetermined nature or essence. Instead, we create our own meaning and purpose through our actions and choices. This idea is often summarized by the phrase “existence precedes essence,” which means that we exist first, and then we define ourselves through our experiences.

2. Authenticity

Authenticity is another essential aspect of existentialism. It refers to the idea that individuals should live their lives according to their own values, rather than conforming to societal norms or expectations. To be authentic means to be true to oneself, even if it means going against the grain.

3. Anxiety and despair

Existentialists believe that anxiety and despair are unavoidable aspects of human existence. The realization that life has no inherent meaning can be overwhelming, leading some individuals to feel lost or hopeless.

4. Freedom and responsibility

Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin in existentialism. While individuals have the freedom to make their own choices, they also bear full responsibility for those choices and their consequences.

5. Death

Finally, death plays a significant role in existentialist thought. The awareness of our mortality can lead us to question the meaning and purpose of life, but it also reminds us to live fully in the present moment.

In conclusion, these five key ideas – existence precedes essence, authenticity, anxiety and despair, freedom and responsibility, and death – form the core of existentialist philosophy. By exploring these concepts deeply, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.