What Is Determinism and Existentialism?


Jane Flores

Determinism and Existentialism are two philosophical schools of thought that attempt to answer some of the most fundamental questions about human existence. While these two concepts may seem contradictory, they both offer unique insights into the nature of human life.

Determinism is the belief that human actions are predetermined and inevitable. This means that everything that happens in the universe is a result of a series of cause-and-effect events, and there is no such thing as free will. According to this view, every decision we make is predetermined by our genetics, upbringing, environment, and past experiences.

On the other hand, Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. Existentialists believe that humans are free to make their own decisions regardless of any external factors. This means that we have complete control over our lives and can create our own meaning in life.

While these two philosophies may seem incompatible at first glance, they both offer valuable insights into the nature of human existence. Determinism offers a scientific explanation for the way things work in the world while existentialism offers a more personal and subjective view on life.

The Origins of Determinism

Determinism has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy. The philosopher Democritus believed that everything in the universe was made up of tiny atoms that were constantly moving around in space. He believed that these atoms followed certain laws of physics and were therefore predictable.

This idea was later developed by Isaac Newton who formulated his laws of motion which explained how objects move through space. According to Newtonian physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction which means that everything in the universe could be predicted if one knew all the variables involved.

The Rise of Existentialism

Existentialism emerged as a school of thought during the 19th century when many people began to question traditional religious beliefs and societal norms. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre is often considered the father of existentialism.

Sartre believed that humans were responsible for creating their own meaning in life and that there was no inherent purpose to existence. He believed that people were free to make their own choices and that every decision we make has consequences.

Determinism vs. Existentialism

Determinism and existentialism offer two very different views on life. Determinists believe that everything in the universe is predetermined while existentialists believe that we have complete control over our lives.

While determinism offers a scientific explanation for the way things work, it can also be seen as limiting because it suggests that we have no free will. On the other hand, existentialism emphasizes individual freedom but can also be seen as lacking structure and direction.

The Intersection of Determinism and Existentialism

Despite their differences, determinism and existentialism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many philosophers have attempted to reconcile these two schools of thought by suggesting that they are complementary rather than contradictory.

One way to do this is by acknowledging that while external factors may influence our decisions, we still have some degree of control over our lives. This means that even if our actions are predetermined in some way, we still have the ability to choose how we respond to them.

In conclusion, determinism and existentialism offer two different perspectives on human existence. While they may seem incompatible at first glance, they both offer valuable insights into the nature of life. By understanding both of these philosophies, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.