What is existentialism in philosophy


A philosophical current that gives priority to lived existence and refuses to reduce this experience to a concept, definition or essence. Existentialism thus represents the counterpart to essentialism. In general, a distinction is made between two main directions within this philosophical trend: on the one hand Christian existentialism, whose main representatives are Pascal, Kierkegaard, Berdiaev, Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel and Tillich, and on the other hand atheistic existentialism, which is mainly represented by philosophers of phenomenology such as Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. And Simone de Beauvoir also belongs to this trend when she says: “You are not born a woman, you will be” (The opposite sex). Christian existentialism, especially that of Pascal, sees man as lost in the universe and believes that in his miserable state he can only find meaning in God, while all his striving for knowledge ignores the tragic dimension of his existence and the thinker himself forgets by privileging thought. Kierkegaard directs corresponding accusations against Hegel's idealism. Atheistic existentialism, on the other hand, claims that this original, albeit questionable, neglect of the thinker also reveals human freedom: since man cannot be tied to an absolute point of reference, it is up to him to create his own values ​​by using the World into which he is “thrown”, interpreted. Today, existentialism is primarily understood as such an atheistic, anti-deterministic interpretation: that man is fundamentally (and inescapably) free, and that it is his - and only his - task to help his life through the entirety of his decisions and actions, which a priori has no meaning to give meaning. Existentialism is considered to be one of the most influential philosophical movements of the 20th century, which was also known in the form of novels and dramas (by Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, etc.). From the sixties he was challenged by structuralism.