What Is Existentialism in Philosophy Simple Terms?


Jane Flores

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that originated in the 19th century. It is concerned with the fundamental questions of human existence, such as the meaning of life, free will, and the nature of reality. In simple terms, existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom and choice.

The Roots of Existentialism

Existentialism has its roots in the works of philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Kierkegaard believed that individuals should take responsibility for their own lives and that they should make their own choices. Nietzsche believed that individuals should create their own values rather than accepting those imposed by society.

Key Themes in Existentialism

There are several key themes in existentialism. One of these is freedom.

Existentialists believe that individuals have complete freedom to choose their own path in life. This means that they are responsible for their own choices and actions.

Another key theme in existentialism is authenticity. This means being true to oneself and living an authentic life rather than conforming to societal expectations or norms.

Existentialists also emphasize the importance of individual experience. They believe that each individual’s experience is unique and cannot be generalized or understood by others.

Existentialist Thinkers

Some of the most famous existentialist thinkers include Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus.

Sartre believed that humans are condemned to freedom, meaning that we must make our own choices without any external guidance or support.

Heidegger believed that humans have to confront their own mortality and finitude in order to live authentically.

Camus believed that life has no inherent meaning or purpose, but we can find meaning through our experiences and relationships with others.


In conclusion, existentialism is a philosophical movement concerned with fundamental questions of human existence. It emphasizes individual freedom, authenticity, and the importance of individual experience. Existentialist thinkers such as Sartre, Heidegger, and Camus have made significant contributions to the field of philosophy, and their ideas continue to influence contemporary thought.