existentialism

If you study philosophy, you learn about existentialism, a school of thought that claims people are responsible for creating meaning out of life — since the world is meaningless.

In a nutshell, existentialism, pronounced "eg-sih-STEN-shul-ism," asks what it means to be human when individuals have the power to shape their lives without being absolutely sure of what is good and what is evil. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are usually regarded as the founders of existentialism, but other famous existentialists include Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and de Beauvoir.

DEFINITIONS OF: existentialism

1

n (philosophy) a 20th-century philosophical movement chiefly in Europe; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves

Synonyms:
existential philosophy, existentialist philosophy
Type of:
philosophical doctrine, philosophical theory
a doctrine accepted by adherents to a philosophy
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