Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom, choice, and responsibility. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has since influenced various fields such as literature, psychology, and theology.
While existentialism has its merits, it is not without flaws. In this article, we will explore some of the shortcomings of existentialism.
1. Lack of Objectivity
One of the main criticisms of existentialism is its lack of objectivity. Existentialists believe that individuals create their own meaning in life through their actions and choices.
While this may be empowering for some, it also means that there is no universal standard for what constitutes a meaningful life. This can lead to moral relativism, where anything goes as long as it is personally fulfilling.
John has decided to quit his job and travel the world.
Under existentialist philosophy, this would be considered a valid choice as long as it brings John personal satisfaction. However, someone who values financial stability or career success may view John’s decision as irresponsible or lacking in purpose.
2. Ignoring External Factors
Existentialists tend to focus solely on individual agency and ignore external factors such as social structures or systemic injustices that can limit one’s choices and opportunities. This can lead to victim-blaming or a dismissal of systemic issues that affect certain groups disproportionately.
Sarah grew up in poverty with limited access to education or healthcare.
An existentialist may argue that Sarah has the power to overcome these obstacles through her own choices and actions. However, this ignores the fact that Sarah’s opportunities were severely limited from the start due to circumstances beyond her control.
3. Romanticizing Suffering
Existentialists often view suffering as an essential part of the human experience and romanticize it as a means of personal growth and self-discovery. While adversity can certainly lead to personal growth, this attitude can also trivialize or justify unnecessary suffering.
Mike decides to stay in an abusive relationship because he believes it will make him a stronger person.
While Mike may learn valuable lessons from his experiences, this does not justify the harm he is enduring. An existentialist view may also discourage seeking help or support, as this is viewed as avoiding the necessary struggle of life.
While existentialism has its merits in emphasizing individual freedom and responsibility, it also has several flaws. Its lack of objectivity can lead to moral relativism, ignoring external factors can perpetuate systemic injustices, and romanticizing suffering can trivialize or justify harm. It is important to critically examine philosophical movements and consider their limitations before fully adopting them.