Existentialism

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Existentialism is a loose collection of philosophies that generally consider finding meaning or purpose to be the result of an individual's search for their own truth. Its origins were Christian writers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoevsky, but became closely associated with atheistic philosophers including Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche.

"Existentialism is nothing less than an attempt to draw all the consequences of a coherent atheistic position. [But even] if God did exist, that would change nothing. There you’ve got our point of view. Not that we believe that God exists, but we think that the problem of His existence is not the issue."

— Jean-Paul Sartre

"l'existence précède l'essence [existence precedes essence]"

— Jean-Paul Sartre

"It is very hard to realize that [the earth] is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realize that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakably unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless... [And yet the] effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little about the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy."

— Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes, 1993

"I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world."

— Albert Camus

"The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!"

Friedrich Nietzsche

"Life has no meaning unless one lives it with a will, at least to the limit of one’s will. Virtue, good, evil are nothing but words, unless one takes them apart in order to build something with them; they do not win their true meaning until one knows how to apply them."

— Paul Gauguin

"It’s life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all."

— Fyodor Dostoevsky

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."

— Umberto Eco

" 'But what will become of men then?' I asked him, 'without God and immortal life? All things are permitted then, they can do what they like?' "

— Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

See also

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