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What are your thoughts on existentialism?

What gives your life meaning? Plato and Aristotle said, "Everything has an essence." Jean- Paul Satre said, "What if we exist first?" Nihilism is the belief that life is meaningless, founded by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Existence preceeds essence, that is the frame work of existentialism. They say our birth happens first, then we have to find our own essence. We have to write our own essence through the way we choose to live, but we have no predetermined purpose. Some existentialist are atheists, some are theists. Any thoughts on this?

Sarahroo29 8 Apr 8

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I agree, I think we give our lives purpose ... I don't think there is any intrinsic meaning to life .. I guess I'd say the purpose of life is to live ...



I'm always careful to point out that Nietzshe said life has no inherent meaning, not that it has no meaning. He intended nihilism to be a robust, positive philosophy, not a philosophy of despair. There is really an infinity of found meaning you can discover for yourself. The only thing that nihilism does is shift the responsibility onto you to make meaning, and away from existence / god / whatever. It's not handed to you on a silver platter, but it's more meaningful for you having to work for it.

What I think that Nietzsche failed to reckon with is that entrenched notion in people's heads that it's important to have externally bestowed and given meaning; it's the only kind they seem to know, and when they realize it doesn't exist, they are almost programmed to go into an emotional tailspin over it. When ironically, all along, all they have been doing is finding their own meaning anyway. They are conditioned to attribute it to god or some other external source, just like they are conditioned to not take credit for their own accomplishments, and "give god all the glory".

The concept of god is like a vampire, sucking morality out of society and claiming to be its inventor and protector; sucking healthy pride out of people and claiming to be the only source of meaninful accomplishment; sucking meaning and purpose out of people and claiming to be the only source of real meaning.

Sorry, I wrote the wrong word. It's my first post on the subject. I like your comment.

@Sarahroo29 No problem, I think the problem is not your word usage (you write just fine!) but that nihilism has been so mischaracterized for so long that the word is associated in people's minds with a despairing little German voice declaiming "Life ees meeneengless!" followed by a gunshot or something. I did that myself for a long time, until my stepson the philosophy major actually got me to read some Nietzsche. I was surprised how he regarded it as an encouraging and "muscular" or "meaty" way of thinking, and the lack of brooding darkness in his actual writings.

@mordant It's my first intelligent post ever. It didn't go bad either. No one on FB cared.

@Sarahroo29 Don't get me started on FB right now, I'm really frosted at them. They locked my wife out of her account (has had it for, what, a decade now) without explanation and when you look into it there's literally NO human being you can talk to even by email or text or chat, you literally fill out a form that has a disclaimer that their policy is NOT to respond to specific incidents.

After several days her account came back, which is a good thing, because she was the sole administrator of a page for our HOA, and there would have been other problematic effects if this hadn't fixed itself. But now I have a different view of FB ... it can fail at any time and you can't do anything about it.

They treat their users like crap, and then wonder why people have problems with that. Combine that with all the security breaches and so on ... no wonder their stock has dropped by billions in recent days.

@mordant Damn hackers too!


"Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced." We're supposed to be a logical group of people. Existentialism just makes the most sense.



Pretty much an absurdist.
No point, purpose, meaning needed.
Here for a good time, not a long time.



"People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me." -- Soren Kierkegaard

I like that.


Friedrich Nietzsche postulated the idea that instead of heaven or hell. You have to live your life all over again, just as you lived it, no take backs. Would the being that did this to you be an angel or demon? You have a lifetime to find out.
One of the things that I baffle theisists with, is the notion that the reward for living a good life is........ Living a good life.

They live their lives and do good deeds for an eternal reward.

@Sarahroo29 Us heathens are more moral than them. We do not have to be bribed to be good.

@273kelvin Yes. Living is our reward.


There are no rights. we are here by luck so make the most of it.

I agree.


Inherent meaning sounds all nice and dandy, but evidence y'know? Yeah it makes more sense. This world certainly appears that way.



It has always seemed like a reasonable and pragmatic philosophy.

I think so too.


I have been an existentialist for over 50 years. It makes sense.

Yes, it does.


Read La Nausea by Jean Paul Sarte. Nietzsche is often associated Nihilism but he was not a nihilist, he was clear about what he stood against and what he stood for in terms of his philosophy and he would have regarded Buddhism as the philosophy of Nihilism. Plato's notion of essence relates to the "world of forms" or ideas.

The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard is usually regarded as the founder of modern existentialism. "Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."

Nicely put. This, I feel is my first intelligent post ever.


It's a really tough word to spell 🙂


  1. This is a LONG way from being your "first intelligent post". IIRC we were discussing having a word with the voices in your head. This is part of what I mean.
  2. Thanks for the post. I have trouble engaging with Nietzche and Kierkegaard so this post and its comments have helped me quite a lot.



Did you notice that you mentioned Plate, Aristotle and Jean Paul Satre with finding it necessary to mention their nationality, but did so when mentioning Nietzsche? Why? I assume that you are sure that your readers know the classic philosophers way better than Friedrich nietzsche. Or could it be....xenophobia in a very subversive form? Just noticing and wondering.

I was just learning about this and I thought I would share what I know. What is wrong with their nationality?


When I had first seen the movie The Matrix I told my friend that this movie is an excellent example of existentialism. I have seen that movie cited as one of the best examples.

I like it the movie.


I stink therefore I am



i do mostly agree with this, as far as that its up 2 us 2 find our own essence, but i also think that can kinda be the same thing as finding your purpose. for example, from what ive been told, i have been interested in art, plants, and animals since i was old enough 2 show any sort of opinion one way or another. while i don't believe that if i chose 2 go with a different path, i would inevitably fail, i do think that going with one of the things that i already tend 2 take interest in would give me a better success rate. so no i don't think we are destined 2 do certain things, but i do think each of us can be predisposed 2 do them

Byrd Level 7 Apr 8, 2018

We may go down several paths. Some will work out, some may not.


We all have a pre-determined purpose, the same as every other species on Earth, that being to survive and to thrive. That is wired into us genetically and pscyhologically. The thriving part is highly comnplex for humans because we and the world we live in is so complicated. We make our own meaning by doing things that make us feel good and give us fulfilllment. Some thrive by being doctors or teachers, and some by being poets or rock stars or firemen. Some thrive by being stay at home Moms, and some by being skilled thieves or corrupt politicians.
I think "essence" is an artifical pretend idea to descirbe one's natural physical and mental processes. We have to exist before we can develop any physical or mental processes.

I agree too. Idk where my life will lead?

@Sarahroo29 Your life will lead to interesting and exciting things for you. I predict that because I read your Bio and you have a good mind and heart, and you have determination to not let others control your thinking. I do art as well and that shows you have creativity and imagination as well. As a bi you have twice the number of potential partners in life so you are lucky indeed! Like everyone else you will have some troubles and they will help build your inner strength to lead you on wiser paths. You have some great possibilities and are making me a little jealous! Good luck.

@Silverwhisper Jealous? How? Thanks though.

@Sarahroo29 I am much older, so my choices are much more limited than yours. I am content and at peace though, no matter how crazy the world gets around me.

@Silverwhisper I'm content with my life rn. Soon it will get a little harder, school and work.

@Silverwhisper Have you read the whole bible? If not, do you post about Xiananity?

@Sarahroo29 I have read the KJV Bible from cover to cover twice, and most important passages many many times. More importantly I studied Bible History on my own off and on for over 30 years to learn where the stories came from, who actually wrote them and why, and all the manipulations by self-serving men and the early Church over a span of 1,200 years to finally end up with an official Bible Canon in the late 4th century. I'm in a couple Community groups on Google+ where religion and chatting with Theists are popular daily happenings, but I enjoy the wider range of topics here for everyday issues.

@Silverwhisper That's nice. Why ruin my post I constructed myself?

@Sarahroo29 ?? I can't ruin your post, and it remains there just as it always was. I gave my view, and when you engaged me with questions I answered. peace


Nietzsche, in particular, states that while there is not, and cannot be objective sources for it, we must recognize that accepting the lack of objective meaning by creating it ourselves--subjective as that is.

His entire notion of the Ubermensch is a person who recognizes the lack of intrinsic value, embraces it, and continually strives to build, consider, and then deconstruct and rebuild.

This relentless striving for the unobtainable in the face of a meaningless existence, and the nature of our character, is what defines us.

Amor Fati.

I like it!

@Sarahroo29 have you read Nietzsche?

If not, you probably should

@WileEQuixote One day I'll read from him. I'm reading on cognitive biases now. Well, not right this very minute.

@Sarahroo29 Gotcha. Cool topic on its own.

Kinda odd to launch a question without having engaged the source material though, no?

@WileEQuixote Sorry. I was learning this on my own.

@Sarahroo29 it’s often best to read the source material first, before others cloud your opinion


(Only that my brain hurts} - I think, its me , I give my life meaning. I don't feel I 'have' to be anything. My life just proceeds as I live it -

Seems to me its like life happens to you and you find out who you are and what you are by watching the way you deal with it, and whether you want to change that process.

I think so too.


It's the words, babee...

Yep. Thanks for the share.



It's a good way to understand philosophical analysis and techniques, and teaches new concepts. People who are tracking for law school or something of that species would enjoy such a topic, as part of their philosophy study, if they are studying philosophy for their undergraduate.

I'm not studying that. This is my first intelligent post ever. Lol.


What are you studying, then?

@DZhukovin Computer Science for my Bachelor's in Science degree. I start as a Freshman in the Fall.

@DZhukovin I was tired of making stupid posts.


Purpose is subordinate to life. Too many self agrandizing A types expousing on meaning and purpose. I think Hedonism has its merits.



I think we have free will and are born without purpose. Of course there are a whole lot of environmental, social and cultural factors that come into play that can/will determine our path in life. With athesism we break free of some of those barriers and assume a more natural free thinker mode.

We should find our purpose.

@Sarahroo29 absolutely

What I was trying to say is that we have to find our purpose in life and sometimes that can take awhile. Depending on our upbringing we have some filters in that process. As a free thinker we can lose the blinders and pursue a purpose that we believe in and feel most suited for despite the obstacles

@lbusche Yes!

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