Trying to Understand Existentialism

Posted March 14, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Culture, Philosophy / 0 Comments

The Myth of Sisyphus

“The struggle itself…is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Albert Camus

Existentialism is an interesting philosophical concept; if God doesn’t exist then life has no point. So if life has no point, we can basically do what ever we want, make our own life worth living.

Existentialist thinkers focus on the question of concrete human existence and the conditions of this existence rather than hypothesizing a human essence, stressing that the human essence is determined through life choices. However, even though the concrete individual existence must have priority in existentialism, certain conditions are commonly held to be “endemic” to human existence.

It is in relation to the concept of the devastating awareness of meaninglessness that Albert Camus claimed that “there is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide” in his The Myth of Sisyphus. Although “prescriptions” against the possibly deleterious consequences of these kinds of encounters vary, from Kierkegaard’s religious “stage” to Camus’ insistence on persevering in spite of absurdity, the concern with helping people avoid living their lives in ways that put them in the perpetual danger of having everything meaningful break down is common to most existentialist philosophers. The possibility of having everything meaningful break down poses a threat of quietism, which is inherently against the existentialist philosophy.

Existentialist thinking makes me wonder about things like;

  • Angst
  • Authenticity or even inauthenticity
  • Despair
  • Facticity
  • Freedom
  • Reason

Where do these fit into the world of Existentialism?

0 responses to “Trying to Understand Existentialism

  1. Peter

    Definitely love reading Kierkegaard. Existentialism is quite fascinating and I wholeheartedly recommend The Concept of Anxiety and The Sickness Unto Death as great starting points

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.