What Are the Themes of Existentialism?


Diego Sanchez

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that explores the meaning of human existence. It emerged in the 19th century and gained prominence in the 20th century. Existentialism emphasizes individual freedom, choice, and responsibility.

There are several themes of existentialism that are central to its philosophy. In this article, we will explore some of these themes.

1. Freedom

Freedom is one of the primary themes of existentialism. Existentialists believe that individuals have complete freedom to make choices and determine their own destiny. This freedom is not limited by external constraints such as social norms or religious beliefs.


John-Paul Sartre, a prominent existentialist philosopher, believed that individuals are completely free to choose their path in life, and that they must take responsibility for their choices.

2. Choice

Related to the theme of freedom is the theme of choice. Existentialists believe that individuals must make choices without relying on external guidance or pre-existing moral frameworks.


Friedrich Nietzsche, another prominent existentialist philosopher, believed that individuals must create their own values and reject traditional morality.

3. Authenticity

Existentialists emphasize authenticity as a way of living life fully and truthfully. Being authentic means being true to oneself and not conforming to external expectations or societal norms.


Martin Heidegger, an influential existentialist philosopher, believed that authenticity required individuals to confront their own mortality and embrace the finitude of human existence.

4. Anxiety

Existentialists believe that anxiety is a natural response to the uncertainty and unpredictability of existence. Anxiety arises from the realization that individuals must make choices without a clear understanding of the consequences.


Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher considered to be one of the founders of existentialism, believed that anxiety was an essential part of the human condition and could lead to personal growth and self-awareness.

5. Absurdity

Finally, existentialists emphasize the theme of absurdity. Absurdity arises from the realization that life has no inherent meaning or purpose. Existentialists believe that individuals must create their own meaning in life.


Albert Camus, a French philosopher and writer, believed that life was inherently absurd and meaningless, but that individuals could find happiness and fulfillment through personal relationships and creative endeavors.

In conclusion, existentialism is a rich philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom, choice, responsibility, authenticity, anxiety, and absurdity. These themes provide a framework for understanding the human condition and living a meaningful life.