Let’s explore what other ways might exist to find meaning in the world. Today we explore essentialism and its response: existentialism. We’ll also learn about Jean-Paul Sartre and his ideas about how to find meaning in a meaningless world.
This crash course video is something I stumbled upon today, and upon watching it, was shocked to realize that this has been my own world view for quite a long time.
I consider my vocabulary to be a bit larger than most, but the word “existential” wasn’t something I’d ever really heard outside the context of “existential crisis” – Something I took to mean a general crisis of existence.While that definition is true in a very broad sense, I neglected to think about what that really means.
Existentialism is the school of thought in which nothing is imbued with any real meaning. God didn’t put us here as part of the plan, the universe isn’t here for a reason, and ultimately, there is zero intrinsic value to anything. That sounds pessimistic until you realize that WE are the ones who give existence meaning through our actions, passions and choices. We are free to make the choices we wish to make, and we are the ones who get to ascribe value to literally everything.
To some, that idea is terrifying because this means that there are no guidelines. Nobody has any answers, and if there are no “true” guidelines then each of us is forced to design our own moral code to live by.
So, the idea is either bleak and depressing for some, or empowering and exhilarating for others. Which is it for you?