The Term ' Existential Crisis ' Essay

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The term ‘existential crisis’ is relatively new. For most of history people followed the ancient Greek philosophers that people are born with their own essence, their own defining characteristic. The idea that nature or in the Christian Tradition God endowed each person with her own essential piece of being could give meaning and purpose to people’s lives, as there was a big guy in the sky dictating and creating everyone with a plan. However, the questioning of the ideal of an essence begins in the late 19th century and continues into modern discussion as new theories emerge. Nietzsche suggested “God is dead, and we killed him”, this isn’t meant to say that there is a literal Celestial Being who has been brutally murdered, but rather that the Christian Religion no longer suffices to explain existence. The questioning of an essence continues in the 20th century with Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre claims that ‘existence precedes essence’ and with such a claim is the basis for what becomes Existentialism. In this essay I will argue that while there is not a singular meaning to life, Sartre’s Existentialism suggests that by removing both societal and individual oppression and accepting our extensive freedom, an individual may establish her own meaning. The first aspect to Existentialism is to accept the absurd and meaningless quality of life. Following the tragedies of the early 20th century an ability to believe in a faceless deity became increasingly difficult. The extensive evil…

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