Existentialism is considered to be one of the most diverse and influential philosophies that emerged in continental Europe from 1930 until mid-20th century and explained an interpretation with respect to human existence in the world emphasizing its realization and its problematic character. Existentialism in the broadest sense is a philosophy that emerged in the twentieth century that focuses on the analysis of existence and the way in which humans find themselves in the world. The main idea of the theory is to say that humans exist first and then each individual spends a life changing their essence or nature.


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What is existentialism?

It is a current of philosophy that seeks to find knowledge about reality through the experience of existence by highlighting the human being as an individual being who gives meaning to his or her own life.

About existentialism

In simpler terms, Existentialism consists of a philosophy that seeks to find the self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility of each individual. It considers that people are seeking to discover who and what they are throughout life as they make decisions based on their experiences, beliefs and perspectives. And these personal choices become unique without the need of any objective form of truth. An existentialist believes that a person should be forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic norms or traditions.


Existentialism arose as a result of philosophical work that developed between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in which there was a clear search for the reason for existence from the individuality, emotions, actions and responsibility that each individual had.

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is considered the father of existentialism, and he was the one who determined that each human being must find the meaning of his existence. The term was used in the 1940s with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, who are now considered to be the greatest exponents of existentialism.

Characteristics of existentialism

The main characteristics of existentialism are the following:


There are several types of existentialism, the three most important are the following:

Literary existentialism

It was the way in which some existentialist philosophers found the manner of transmitting thought. The greatest representative of existentialist literature was Fyodor Dosteoivski. The authors were in charge of expressing the different existential problems and the works reflected the anguish suffered by contemporary man, the feeling of feeling lost without reason.

Existentialism in education

In the field of education, existentialism tells us that teachers must be aware that they exist as human beings as well as their students, and that these are not simply objects, that they are thinking and intelligent beings and that teachers have the existential freedom to choose the best methodology to teach their students, the freedom to choose the best tools to evaluate them, the best texts to search for information, the use of the best didactic material to improve and make the learning of the contents simpler, and it also says that the exercise of this freedom must foster the capacity to participate, to question with valid arguments to improve its use.

Existentialism in psychology

It bases its perspective on existential philosophies and focuses on the human condition as a whole, on therapy focuses on human capabilities and helps individuals take responsibility for their successes. It also focuses on the conflicts a person has when faced with a world that threatens existence. Both emotional and psychological difficulties are an internal conflict that is caused by the individual’s confrontation with his existence.


It is important because it is a theory that shows interest and concern for individual freedom, faces the different aspects of the human condition that are not often thought of, sees human experience as an essential part of life that helps us face the world, which makes it important for man to lead a correct and adequate life depending on their actions.



Some important works of existentialism have been the following:


Some of the most famous phrases of existentialism are the following:


Some examples of existentialism that we can observe in daily life are the following:

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Existentialism. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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