Who is an existentialist

Published: 2017-09-09 11:02:35
1440 words
5 pages
12 min to read
University of Richmond
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Who is an existentialist

The meaning of true individuality according to Kierkegaard is selfhood. The true meaning and task of life recognize the true self which is a moral imperative and a preparatory to the real understanding of religion. In his book, In Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard talks of the self as a result of relations. He states that the human being is a product of the relationship between the infinite, which includes the spirit, Noumena, and the eternal, and the finite which includes the temporal, Phenomena, and the body. This fails to create a real self since a person can live without the self-concept as defined by the author. However, the fact that the Self is only able to come to being via a relation to God is as a result of the relation between the infinite and the finite which reflects back to the human beings. This, according to the author, is a positive association.  

According to Kierkegaard, an individual is a person who cannot be captured by any abstract definition or formula. When a person is placed in a group or among the public and characterized as part of a certain species, the real meaning of the individual is undermined. Society, politics, and philosophy characterize and compress human beings in groups, and this fails to bring out the differences of the different persons. These individual differences, according to Kierkegaard, are the factors that make human beings what they are (Jon 56).

Also, existentialism, according to Jean-Paul Sartre, teaches that reality of a persons existence is based on his actions. People should not just around and wait for destiny to takes its way. For instance, a person should not say that the reason they are not married yet is because they are waiting for the right person to come their way. This is a false belief. Every person is responsible for their lives, and they should take action to ensure their dreams come true. People are born into the world with no achievements at all. It is up to them to work hard and realize their dreams and not wait for things to work out automatically (Jean-Paul 100).

Friedrich Nietzsche, who was a German philosopher, expressed his dissatisfaction with a majority of the English psychologists on the issue of morality. These Psychologists argue that they are the forefather of morality; however, this is not true as they lack the historical spirit. They made claims that initially people gaining from the UN egoistic actions of other people would congratulate such actions and term them to be god. What was perceived as useful was also depicted as good. Nietzsche refuted this ideology, arguing that people whom goodness was done or shown to them, did not understand or define good. Instead it was the good, the powerful and the noble, defined the term. The people who perceived themselves as good came to see themselves as good when they compared themselves with the people below them. The people below them were the weak and the poor. They perceived themselves as superior and their position of power included having the ability to decide what is bad or what is good. Nietzsche quotes the use of some German words to support his argument. For instance, he states that the German word for good depicts the most powerful, rich or master and is also associated with truth. On the other side commoners, low or the poor are linked with cowardice or lying. Furthermore, he notes that priests are impotent and have learned to hate and that the hate has grown. he even identifies the Jews as the most haters and have influenced moral valuations considering the wretched, poor and the meek as good and then associating the noble, lustful and powerful with evil.

Authenticity is also applied to the choices a person makes from the moment he wakes up, throughout his day, to the moment he goes back to sleep. A person should be confident of the way he dresses, designs his hair, and his lifestyle. He should not rely on what other people tell him to run his daily life. Existentialism states that a person is said to accomplish authenticity when he has succeeded in living his life according to how he sees it right and not following certain values or ideas given by other people. Before a person does something that affects him, he should ask himself if what he is about to do is his will and not because it will please other people around him.

In-authenticity is brought about by the various cultural beliefs today which forces people to behave in a manner that is inauthentic against their personal desires. For instance, advertising tends to distort a person for external purposes despite the fact that people view it as a way of enabling individuals to take an action which they do not possess. Relations of a race also encourage in-authenticity as they force people to interact with others on the grounds of external values.

To become an existentialist, one should be able to express his personal interests in his outside life without any fear. This relates to the career path that one chooses. An existentialist mindset is one that goes after the individuals passion. For instance, a person is encouraged to pursue his passion be it in dancing, singing, writing, art, or philosophy. Most people view careers such as medicine, engineering, technology, and actuarial science as the right careers to pursue since they are highly paying and earn a person a high status in the society. However, an existentialist should not focus on such norms but should be courageous enough to follow their inward passions despite what the people in the society may think of them.

Being an existentialist also involves allowing other individuals to live their lives authentically without dictating the way they choose to lead their lives. For instance, parents should allow their children who are of adult age to decide on how they should live their lives. Existentialists should not impose their thoughts and views either moral or philosophical on other people. They should also respect the fact that not all people may want to be existentialists, and they should not force it on them. As an existentialist lives his life, he should also allow others to live their lives freely.

People should follow the existentialism way of life by taking responsibility for their mistakes whenever they are found guilty. They should understand that as far as they aim at doing well for the society and themselves, some of their actions may be unpleasant and may be offensive to the people around them. People should take the initiative to admit when they go wrong and not blame their actions on certain norms or other people. For instance, a terrorist may commit murder of a mass of people and justify his acts to be according to his religion. The act of murder is wrong since it affects other people. According to the existentialist way of life, it is proper for the terrorist to take responsibility for his actions and be open to the consequences. People today should not rely on religious and cultural values that they find wrong and should be firm to act against these values.  

From the above explanations, it is clear that existentialism as a way of life can be integrated into the daily lives of people in our society today. Existentialism way of life is positive, and its values are beneficial for the daily activities of individuals. Various aspects of life can be conducted authentically when people adapt and choose to see life in an existential way. Existential authors such as Martin, Kierkegaard, and Sartre emphasize on this fact and give explanations on various tenets of existentialism such as death, facticity and transcendence, and authenticity. Human beings ought to be open to accepting the way of life of existentialists and incorporate in their daily lives in the society.     


Works Cited

Beauvoir, Simone , and Bernard Frechtman. The Ethics of Ambiguity. New York, N.Y:               Philosophical Library, 1948. Internet resource.

Kierkegaard, Soren. Sickness Unto Death. Lanham: Start Publishing LLC, 2013. Internet       resource.

Heidegger, Martin, Joan Stambaugh, and Dennis J. Schmidt. Being and Time. Albany:               State University of New York Press, 2010. Print.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Human Emotions. New York: Philosophical Library,        1957. Internet resource.

Stewart, Jon. Kierkegaard and Existentialism. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2011. Print


Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal: