Existentialism

Why are we here anyway? Why am I here, at 1:00 AM, writing a paragraph about existentialism for high school students? Well, according to the existentialists, there is no reason why we’re here, but that isn’t a bad thing. If we have no inherent purpose in life, we’re free to choose whatever purpose we want!

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that began in the 1800s by Danish Dynamo Søren Kierkegaard and Hot Topic rewards-card member Friedrich Nietzsche, with contributions from Fyodor “The Hammer” Dostoevsky. These cats laid the foundation for existentialism. Existentialist texts share in common a focus on the freedom and creativity of the individual. Existentialists do not believe the universe has an inherent meaning, nor do they believe people have a fixed definition or purpose According to existentialists, humans were thrown into the river of life without a paddle and are told “just do your best; also, good luck pal.” At least humans are free to choose whether or not they feel like swimming. No matter the reason, the human simply needs to follow whatever they believe, which is epic.

Podcasts

  • Philosophy Bites Podcasts

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  • Existentialism

    BBC Podcast

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Further Reading

Questions to Think About

  • Does the human being have a purpose in the universe?

  • Does the human individual have an essence or definition?

  • What do our emotions, such as anxiety or dread, tell us about our lives or the human condition?

  • What does it mean to be free? Can we choose not to be free?

  • What does it mean to live an authentic life?

  • Does life have a purpose? Does life have meaning?

Key Thinkers

  • Simone de Beauvoir

  • Albert Camus

  • Karl Jaspers

  • Søren Kierkegaard

  • Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Jean-Paul Sartre

Key Texts

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