Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice, and the subjective experience of existence. In existentialism, the concept of meaning is central to understanding the human condition.

But what does “meaning” mean in existentialism? Let’s explore this question in depth.

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that arose in the 20th century, primarily in Europe. It emphasizes individual freedom and choice, as well as the subjective experience of existence. Existentialists believe that human beings are fundamentally free and responsible for their own lives, and that we must create our own meaning and purpose in life.

The Meaning of Meaning

The concept of meaning in existentialism refers to the significance or value that we attach to our lives and experiences. According to existentialists, meaning is not something that can be objectively determined or discovered; rather, it is something that we must create for ourselves.

Existentialists argue that because there is no inherent meaning or purpose to life, we are free to create our own. This can be both empowering and terrifying – on one hand, it means that we have the power to shape our own lives and find fulfillment on our own terms; on the other hand, it means that we are solely responsible for our own happiness and well-being.

Authenticity

One key aspect of creating meaning in existentialism is authenticity. Authenticity refers to being true to oneself and living in accordance with one’s values and beliefs. For existentialists, authenticity is essential for finding fulfillment because it allows us to live a life that is true to who we are.

However, authenticity can be difficult to achieve in a society that often values conformity over individuality. Existentialists argue that societal pressures can lead us astray from our authentic selves, causing us to live lives that are unfulfilling or even meaningless.

Freedom and Choice

Another key aspect of creating meaning in existentialism is freedom and choice. Existentialists believe that human beings are fundamentally free and responsible for their own lives, and that we must make choices that reflect our values and beliefs.

However, with freedom comes responsibility. Existentialists argue that because we are free to create our own meaning, we are also responsible for the consequences of our choices. This can be a heavy burden to bear, but it is also what makes life meaningful.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of meaning in existentialism refers to the significance or value that we attach to our lives and experiences. According to existentialists, meaning is not something that can be objectively determined or discovered; rather, it is something that we must create for ourselves through authenticity, freedom, and choice. While this can be a daunting task, it is also what makes life worth living – the ability to shape our own lives and find fulfillment on our own terms.