What Is the Best Definition of Existentialism?


Martha Robinson

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It is a complex and multi-faceted philosophy that has been interpreted and applied in various ways by different thinkers throughout history.

At its core, existentialism is concerned with the nature of human existence and the meaning of life. It is a philosophy that rejects the idea of predetermined fate or destiny, and instead emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility and individual choice.

One of the key ideas in existentialism is that human beings are inherently free. This means that we have the ability to make our own choices and determine our own paths in life. However, with this freedom comes a sense of anxiety and uncertainty, as we must face the consequences of our actions without any external guidance or support.

Another important aspect of existentialism is its emphasis on authenticity. This means being true to oneself and one’s own values, rather than conforming to societal norms or expectations. In order to live an authentic life, one must confront the difficult questions of existence head-on, rather than avoiding them or seeking easy answers.

Existentialism also recognizes the inherent absurdity of human existence. Despite our best efforts to find meaning in life, we are ultimately faced with the fact that there may be no inherent purpose or significance to our existence. However, rather than succumbing to despair or nihilism, existentialists argue that it is up to each individual to create their own meaning and purpose in life.

Overall, existentialism is a complex philosophy that challenges many of the traditional assumptions about human nature and existence. By emphasizing individual freedom, authenticity, and personal responsibility, it offers a unique perspective on what it means to be human in an uncertain world.

If you’re interested in learning more about existentialism, there are many great resources available online and in print. From classic texts like Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness” to more modern works like Sarah Bakewell’s “At the Existentialist Café,” there is no shortage of thought-provoking reading material to explore.