Existentialism and Responsibility for Your Actions

Training group

Existentialism is a radical philosophy which takes our life issues as its central focus. From an existentialism perspective despite people being in this world without their prior consent – it’s up to us to create our life’s meaning.

According to Sartre, ‘existence precedes essence’ it means that people don’t have any predetermined purpose why they exist in this world. Sartre’s opinion is that people are radically free.  Thus, existentialism claims that ‘If we are in a bad mood, for example, it’s because we choose to be. It suggests the external world doesn’t impose itself upon our consciousness and that we control our moods, thoughts, attitudes, and choices.

From Sartre’s perspective, freedom is something that we cannot avoid. Our ability to choose could either lead toward ‘sincerity’ or ‘bad faith’. To live in ‘bad faith’ is to let one’s being defined by social categories such as race, gender, disability, ethnicity, work position, and economic class etc. Therefore, from an existentialism perspective a person who lives in ‘bad faith’ is passive for accepting his current condition to define who they are and does not bother to transcend their situation; whilst negating themselves by the dictation of the crowd/group.  Thus, a ‘person who lives in ‘sincerity’ is the one who transcends their current situation and not being a follower of public/group opinion and actively interacts and perpetually creates their own life’s meaning.

Anxiety and Alienation

In a society influenced by systemic racism, sexism, Disablism/ableism, and where various forms of abuse may impact on behaviour people may have many internal conflicts whilst managing freedom and experience anxiety. According to Soren Kierkegaard “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”. Knowing that we are carrying a huge responsibility of creating meaning for ourselves, people may feel a sense of burden, since there is no one who will help them in this course. It is up to us! People may well recognize that life maybe farcical and can become disillusioned from the beliefs they used follow and adhere to. Thus, such experiences may well make people feel alienated as it’s individuals who needs to move their own steering/Life wheel in whichever direction they choose!

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