Existentialism- philosophy of Human experience.

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Existentialism gathered momentum during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Philosophical thoughts were about nature and truth before existentialism. Philosophers did not lay focus on human experiences. Existentialism aims to focus on human individuality and finding oneself. Though there are massive differences between existentialist philosophers, there is one common ground among everyone. The idea of existentialism is to find oneself and discover the meaning of life.

According to existentialism, the meaning of life and oneself can only be attained through free will, personal responsibility and freedom of choice. An individual creates his meaning and value through his consciousness. An individual who constantly makes efforts to expand his consciousness and the idea of themselves will always know what it is to exist. Personal responsibility is of great importance. Our choices have consequences. And we are all products of these consequences. It is through personal responsibility, that we get the power to fight our nature. Sometimes a human being has to fight his own nature to attain harmony. Our decision-making gives birth to our natural self.

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There is something magical about the truths that we discover that changes the meaning of our existence and brings a new awareness into our life. When we go through a crisis, our body produces emotions like anxiety, angst, absurdity etc. There is certain meaninglessness to our existence. We believe that we have an understanding of how this universe works until we discover something that tells us something else. Those moments, when your world-view is challenged. The things that you thought to be true are false. We find it hard to accept it but a human being who is aware will find a way to accept the new meaning of life. Empathy is of great importance here. We should try to empathise with people around us who are faced with existential questions they are struggling to find the answers to. Everyone goes through a crisis and we should take note of it and build ways for humanity to deal with it in a much more efficient way. Empathising with one another is a good way to start.

Existentialism also lays great importance on authenticity. To be authentic, one must be in harmony with his freedom. One must be able to come to terms with his identity while not letting his background and history play a part in his decision-making. We can often be scared of our past selves and go into a state where we fear that we might again become who we were. This is why it becomes very important to not be controlled by the idea of yourself. You have to let go of yourself. It is the only way you can be yourself. The choices you make should be based on certain values. This brings responsibility to your decision-making.

Existentialism is often associated with atheism. All atheists are not existentialists but existentialists are usually atheists. Religion and existentialism do not go hand in hand. Even the existentialists who place their faith in some higher being accept that religion is suspicious. Existentialism is all about finding the truth about oneself and that will not be possible if we place our faith in some higher being.

* I was influenced to write this article after reading the book Philosophy 101 By Paul Kleiman *

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