Alexandru Săcui, IX F
What Is Existentialism?
Broadly speaking, existentialism is a philosophical movement that gained popularity in the 20th century. It is quite an encompassing term with myriad interpretations, but at its core, it is concerned with the individual’s search for meaning and purpose in a seemingly meaningless world.
In a nutshell, existentialism tells you everything you want to hear and everything you don’t want to hear at the same time. Now, that can unequivocally shake someone’s perception of the world and everything around them.
Imagine, for a second, that everything you do and have ever done is, and will be, utterly meaningless unless you give it meaning; that right there is existentialism.
A key aspect of existentialism is the strong emphasis on individual freedom. Existentialists believe people have complete freedom over their choices, being able to determine their own fate. This can be seen as both a blessing and a curse, as it means individuals are responsible for their choices and the ensuing consequences.
The central tenet of existentialism is that existence precedes essence. This means that individuals are not defined by a predetermined purpose or destiny but rather create their own meaning and purpose through their choices and actions. Existentialists believe that life has no inherent meaning, but it is up to each person to give their life meaning and make sense of their existence.
But all of this does not mean existentialists are atheists; the only part of religion incompatible with existentialism is teleology, so they refute the notion that God made the world with a particular purpose in mind.
Existentialism offers a liberating perspective on life that encourages individuals to take charge of their own destinies. By embracing freedom and taking responsibility for their choices, individuals can live more authentic and fulfilling lives. They can focus on what truly matters to them rather than living a life defined by external and uncontrollable forces.
Why We, as Humans, Are Drunk With Freedom
When you get out of bed every morning, you can choose to do exactly what you want. Nothing is holding you back from hiking the Himalayas in your underpants or drinking coffee whilst doing yoga; you are free because no matter how hard anyone tries, they can never restrict your thoughts, so they can never restrict your freedom.
At some point, being able to do anything and think about whatever you want can lead to questioning the meaninglessness of things. The mere fact you can think about anything in the first place implies that you are drunk with freedom. Realizing that everything you do has no meaning can lead to nihilism (the belief that nothing has absolute meaning). However, existentialism counters that by using the fact that society is drunk with freedom in the first place. Essentially, you decide your fate since you are free.
In a world where life often seems determined and controlled by external factors such as society, grades, school, and fate, existentialism offers a unique perspective highlighting the individuals' power to make choices and create their own path in life. It encourages people to take control of their lives and embrace the uncertainty derived from freedom. Hence we could say we are drunk with freedom, but, for once, that might be a good thing.
In closing, I would like to staunchly encourage you to put into practice what I have taught you today any time life, school or any other external factors get you down. Remember what you have just read today. Get out there and decide your own fate.