Existentialism and Human Nature Essay
Existentialism and Human Nature
Absolute individuality and absolute freedom: the basis of all existentialist arguments. The existentialist’s conceptions arise from their held views that since we are all ultimately alone, we have absolute freedom over our nature. Existentialists emphasize the “free and conscious self” which opponents constantly attack, exclaiming that there is a “higher power” enabling our consciousness. But are humans so simple? Can things be explained solely on blaming ourselves or another being for our nature?
The existentialist generally believes in a sole existence; meaning that we are alone in the world, and that we have no one but ourselves. They also believe in the human being’s capacity to feel more than one kind of pain, and that there are three different levels to our pain, physical, psychological, and emotional. All of these types of pain can cause us to become irrational and anxious. But are we really anxious because of this pain, or is it because we ultimately feel alone? And if we are all individuals, can we really feel the same kind of pain as someone else?
Existence precedes essence is also dominant in the mind and thoughts of the existentialist. That is, the idea that we are born into this world without a predetermined nature, and only later in life do we shape out nature through actions and choices. This opposes the traditional view that is that essence precedes existence, according to which we are seen as having a purpose, and values, all of which is determined before birth. (I personally think that the idea of essence preceding existence is rather obscure. There is no way that our values and purpose can be determined by genetic code. DNA is what we are, not who we are.)
Existentialists pose another question to the opposition: how can we be happy in a world devoid of significance and meaning? The loss of external values allows us to derive value from within ourselves. This value is greater than any imposed by outside forces, and thus cannot be taken away from said sources. Although many human beings live a life devoid of true happiness, it does not mean that we are incapable of attaining such a goal. If a person finds the meaning for their life, whether it be one meaning, or many, there is a large chance that they can achieve such a utopia without recognizing outside influences. People of different viewpoints follow different methods, as well as believe in different forces that shape our nature.
It is in my opinion, as well as that of the existentialist, that we shape our own nature through decisions and actions made by our own free will; that we are ultimately free to act independently from the influences of outside forces. That we can ultimately ignore the views imposed on us, and achieve a sustainable level of happiness in the process. Human nature is a frail thing; people are just looking for someone else to blame for their actions and for who they are, even when there isn’t any. Therefore, there is no one to blame for who we are, but ourselves.
Subject: Philosophy of life,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 November 2016
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