In existentialism, angst is a term used to describe a feeling of dread or anxiety that arises when individuals confront the absurdity of their existence. Angst is considered a key component of existential thought, and it is often seen as an essential step in the process of coming to terms with one’s own mortality.
At its core, angst is a response to the fact that human beings are fundamentally alone in the universe. This feeling arises when individuals recognize that they are not part of any larger cosmic plan or purpose. Instead, they exist in a world that is indifferent to their needs and desires.
One way to understand angst is to think about it as a form of existential vertigo. Just as vertigo causes individuals to feel unsteady and disoriented when they are confronted with heights or other dizzying sensations, angst can cause individuals to feel unmoored and adrift when they confront the meaninglessness of existence.
Despite its negative connotations, many existentialists see angst as an essential step in the process of personal growth and self-discovery. By confronting the reality of their own mortality head-on, individuals can begin to develop a sense of authenticity and autonomy that allows them to live more fully in the present moment.
One way that many existentialists recommend dealing with angst is through philosophical introspection. By examining one’s beliefs about the nature of existence and confronting one’s own fears and anxieties head-on, it may be possible for individuals to come to terms with their own mortality and find meaning in their lives.
Another approach that some existentialists recommend is embracing one’s freedom through creative expression or other forms of self-actualization. By actively engaging with life rather than simply passively accepting it, individuals may be able to find meaning even in moments of despair or uncertainty.
Ultimately, angst is an essential part of the human experience. While it may be uncomfortable or even painful at times, it can also be an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. By embracing this feeling and confronting the absurdity of existence head-on, individuals may be able to find meaning and purpose in their lives even in the face of adversity.