Philosophy

Explaining Existentialism

For awhile now I’ve been trying to formulate my thoughts about existentialism and how it might be the cause of what I’m going through. So even though I still believe that it is the best view of life one can live by, going too extreme has it’s downsides.

So to help me organize my thoughts more clearly, I decided to first explain existentialism as I currently see it.

Existentialism

1.) Existentialism is a belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject — not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.

Everyone of us is different. Everyone of us is unique. Everyone of us is significant. We ourselves define who we are and what we believe in. No one else can influence in that.

2.) While the supreme value of existentialist thought is freedom, its primary virtue is authenticity.

No matter how society or anyone else tries to control and define us, our spirit is free. Physical restrictions are not an issue. Death is an inevitable fact and nothing to be afraid of. We thrive in the ability to be. To be real. To be who we are.

3.) Each individual — not society or religion — is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely.

As this thought is the primary way to achieve total freedom, it also touches the possible darker side of existentialism. And that is, that in the end, we are all alone. No one can help us. No one can understand us. Because everyone sees ‘the truth’ in their own way. But to be completely free, we can only trust ourselves.

4.) Origin of the term is believed to be a Norwegian poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven (1807–1873) who came up “a word that covered a certain thinking, which had a close and positive attitude to life, a relationship described as existential“.

Existentialist view of life needs to be sort of ‘down-to-earth’. To accept everything as it is and not judge anything, requires humility. That does not mean we couldn’t aim high and be perfectionists, but only that acceptance brings freedom, avoidance doesn’t. Living can be enough of a reason to live and be content.

5.) Existentialist philosophy is often used as an explanation for anxiety. The assertion is that anxiety is manifested of an individual’s complete freedom to decide, and complete responsibility for the outcome of such decisions.

Existentialist psychotherapy believes that anxiety can be harnessed and used constructively. Instead of suppressing anxiety, it could be embraced as inevitable and used to achieve full potential in life.

This describes my life perfectly. Long time ago I made a conscious choice to overcome my anxiety. I would not let it hinder me down. I would do what I wanted and how I wanted no matter what it might feel like. I would define myself. Without knowing it then, I adopted existentialism.

Since then I’ve climbed high and achieved much. And I’ve fallen down. Now I need a new way to live.

Being alone is not sustainable. We are social beings. We need each other. We need support and help. Even if it means giving up a little bit of that precious freedom.