Existentialism isn’t a philosophical stance, but a doctrine on how you can live an authentic and meaningful life.
Feb 11, 2024
All quotes are from Existentialism and Human Emotions by Sartre
Existentialism isn’t a philosophical stance, but a doctrine with real implications on how you can live an authentic and meaningful life.
what can be said from the very beginning is that by existentialism we mean a doctrine which makes human life possible and, in addition, declares that every truth and every action implies a human setting and a human subjectivity.
It means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself.
Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence.
Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism.
Part of the “Subjectivity” that Sartre talks about is that humans cannot escape their own unique perspective and senses. We can’t attain an objective, God-like view of the world because we are always filtered through our subjective lenses.
But if existence really does precede essence, man is responsible for what he is. Thus, existentialism’s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.
The assumptions of atheistic existentialism lead to a feeling “anguish”. This feeling arrises by being left to bear the full weight of our decisions and the implications on others, because:
Anguish in this context is not just the feeling of worry and pain. It’s instead the existential discomfort experienced when confronting the immense freedom and responsibility of choosing in absence of predetermined moral guidelines. The possibilities of what to do in each situations becomes become almost infinite. The each action could lead to a huge number of unknown outcomes.
This feeling of anguish should not keep us from acting (e.g. what’s embodied by Dostoyevsky’s The Underground Man), but instead fill us with a deep paradoxical empowerment. We are free. You are the author of your own life, and become whoever you “will” yourself to be. By acting, you discover not only reality, but also your own reality.
It’s our responsibility to act even in the presence of this anguish. Without doing so, we fall into an inauthentic life dictated by societal expectations. We would never become who we are.
Get the latest from me
If you want to hear about updates about this place (new posts, new awesome products I find etc) add your email below: