Existentialism: What Is The Purpose Of Life

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Introduction: Existentialism is a philosophy that deals with life’s unanswered questions: why do we exist? What is the purpose of life? Ironically the, exact meaning of existentialism itself remains unanswered itself. Some believe it to be an attitude of life others a serious branch of philosophy; many discard it as being something paltry thought by post-war pessimists. The blur definitions of can be summed up in this single quote by Anton Chekhov, “The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.” Not only can it be taken as an existentialist idea of how the world is given meaning by man himself and the ideologies man follow or implement to live but also existentialism itself is nothing but the conception of what a man wants it…show more content…
Firstly, man continuously strives to define this enigmatic “undefined” phenomenon. Second that this quality prevents it from being “outdated” so the discussion over existentialism remains open till the end. General Definitions: Despite the difference in outlook it is noticeable that the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus share key themes and ideas like that of freedom, authenticity, alienation, angst and absurdity. These recurring principles form the basis of existentialism and aid in defining it in general terms. Some general definitions of the term are as follows: “Existentialism is the theory that humans are free and responsible for their own actions in a world without meaning.”(Oxford Dictionary, 2006) That “confronts the human situation in its totality, to ask what the basic conditions of human existence are and how man can establish his own meaning out of these conditions.” (William Barrett, 1958) Philosophically, it is “a vision of the condition and existence of man, his place and function in the world and his relationship or lack of one with God.” (J.A.Cuddon,…show more content…
He was deeply inspired by the former precursors and his predecessor Martin Heidegger. Martin’s (1927) “Being and Time” influenced his own works. Sartre’s slogan, "Existence precedes essence,” It is the core of existential philosophy. It teaches that man first exists and then defines himself. Albert Camus expressed the internal turmoil of an existential man. His literary body of work is mostly known for the existentialist themes within like “The Stranger” and “The Plague”. His characters are trapped into circumstances in which all efforts to come out seem useless. Man in his stories is irrelevant and this feelings lead to emotions of angst, confusion and alienation from the world. Therefore Camus puts down the thoughts of a man contemplating his existence and wondering that, “In a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger.”

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