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Existentialism and the Meaning of Life Essay

This paper will discuss the existentialist position and how different societal factors contribute to the creation of different meaning in a person’s life. It will study how value systems are formed and will borrow heavily from Jean Paul Sarte’s concept of “existence precedes essence.” It is important to note that the author will present the arguments and correlate it with the two films that were used in writing this paper.

First, I will explain the meaning of life and how it is created. Next, there will be a brief discussion on how state apparatuses like religion and the government keeps aims to keep the meaning of people’s lives in certain restrictive areas. Then I will outline the different arguments of existentialist philosophers particularly that of Sarte and Albert Camus.

“Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself” (Miller & Jensen, 2006). People are all born out of the wonders of biological functions but as people leave the protective womb of their mothers, they will be exposed to different stimulants in the environments. And this will prompt them to learn things different from how other people learn it. Therefore, a man is a sponge who absorbs information in very unique ways. And the things that were absorbed create a man who has an equally unique reason for the meaning of his existence.

The very question of life is what paved the way for the existential branch of philosophical studies. It is by way of nature that beings search for the meaning of life. But humans as we are, there will be different interpretations of the meaning of life. Each person is blessed with the unique ability to identify different reasons for his existence. And there are also different perspectives used to uncover the meaning of life. Thus, for this paper we will use Jean Paul Sarte’s theory of “essence precedes existence”.

Backgrounder

The ultimate goal in finding the meaning of one’s life is to “make a rational sense out of life” (Stewart & Blocker, 1987). Self actualization is one of the things specified in the hierarchy of needs. And in order to know the personality of one’s self, it is fundamental to make sense of life in itself. Unlike the perspective of the absurdists—people who focus on the “meaninglessness of life and the vacuity of human existence” (Stewart & Blocker, 1987)—existentialists seek meaning in the rather meaningless world in order to affirm the significance of their existence.


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