A few months ago a subscriber suggested I make a video on existentialism, so here it is!
Existentialism is a European philosophy from the mid 19th and 20th centuries, which attempts to answer the questions humans have attemped to ask and answer for thousands of years: what is the purpose of life. Many believe, due to mainstream thinking, that the existentialist believes there is no purpose to our lives, but that is actually wrong - they would say our purpose is to create and cultivate our purpose.
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Existentialism is a European philosophy that began in the mid-19th and 20th centuries and became popular following the horrific years of WWII, when many began to doubt the traditional idea of a moral deity based on the terrifying atrocities committed during the war.
The first philosopher to have actually identified as an existentialist is probably Jean-Paul Sartre who said that “what all existentialists have in common is the fundamental doctrine that existence precedes essence." What he means by this is that we are all born without any kind of collective purpose. We are born independent individuals rather than the labels, stereotypes, etc. that society or our family or whoever, decide to put on us. Our purpose or essence as Sartre describes is not what others place on to us, but instead ours to create through our own consciousness.
The misconception here is that one might think they can define themselves as whatever they want, and thus be whatever they want. But the reality is that while we may believe we are of a certain essence, we are in fact defined by our actions, and are responsible for them. So if a person believes they are kind, but acts cruelly, the existentialist will then define that person by their act, as cruel. Sartre states that “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges us in the world –and defines himself afterwards.”
Another key idea in existentialism is the idea of the absurd. The absurd is the idea that the world is meaningless and in its meaninglessness the whole “bad things don’t happen to good people” flies out the window. In fact there is no such thing as a bad or good person or a bad or good situation. What happens, just simply happens. We are born into a world where our actions lack any coherent purpose, a world in which we are searching for meaning in a meaningless world.
In contrast to what most of us think, Sartre believed that the amount of freedom we have is horrifying. The fact that the world is meaningless means that there are no guidelines or moral code to live by. The best thing to do he states is to live authentically. By this he means that one has to create him or herself based on their true self – rather than the external pressures of the world - and then live accordingly. In today’s world this might mean acting in opposition to the idea that we should grow up, go to college, find a good job, start a family, buy a house, send your kids to college, and then retire – something that many of us are often pressured to do by our society, teachers, parents, and even government.
Again in existentialism only you can assign meaning to your life. The only wrong thing you can do is to live in-authentically, against your own essence.
Everything around us shows life has meaning. Everything exists to support everything’s else.
Meaningless would meaning Randomness. And the world is anything but random. Everything from the atom to all dna is in perfect sequence and harmony.
idk if understand, maybe I'm stupid but you are saying existentialism is just about not following the status quo? so like a rebel or independent thinker? so why is it a philosophical topic anyways, seems like a complicated word for something every society has, independent thinkers
Our world, personal or otherwise was never meant to have meaning. We give it a kind of meaning to try to make sense but ultimately we know such meaning is wasteful. We are here by some cosmic accident and at some moment we will cease as a human race, never to return. Accept this and you'll get through it all - eventually.
But when there are no fixed values... why would authenticity be a value? Who says to me, that I should live authentically? Can't I just decide not to decide anymore? When there is no essential meaning, then to live as a sheep in bad faith is not essentially more meaningless, as to live authentucally...
Imo it isnt about the value that authentically holds, as it is more about you being your "blank canvas" self, your true self, but I get where your coming from, Id call myself an Existenalist but , definitely don't agree with every aspect of existentialism.
But in the end it doesn't matter because all of existence will eventually be consumed by the inevitable abyss of eternal silence and death.
I think I'm gonna roll myself a fat one now, before my sanity goes out the fucking window much like my will to live and self respect.
We have no purpose. We all should die :) we only cause suffering. To animals and ourselves. And religion is a lie. So the human race doesnt have a purpose. If we dont destroy ourselves, we will be swallowed by a fire ball.
So to the existentialist there is no morality... hmmm..
There are a few contradictions in this philosophy, if you create meaning then you are assigning a purpose.
Purpose is everywhere, you build a house to live in, you tell jokes to laugh, you have sex to reproduce or gain pleasure. In fact life seems to follow a purpose and that is reproduction. Thanks for the video man, it really helped me understand what existentialism is, even though i don't agree with it.
Gone are the baby boomer days where in you work for one company whole your life and then retire. Millenials nowadays are de facto existentialists, whether they are aware of it or not, conscious or unconscious. The society in itself is autopilot and meaningless. At the end of the day, you will create and re-create your purpose according to what you want, and not what the society dictates to you.
Can you make a video on Cognitive Therapy? Just a basic overview of what it is? I would really appreciate it. I want to use it for a class project and I have used your videos before and think they are amazing!
it's hard to pay attention when this lit ass beat is playing in the background...
but on a more serious note, i wish all my college courses consisted of animated explanations, much easier/entertaining to learn this way
OK, I think one of two things should happen. Either you continue to believe this and call it something else, or continue to call it this and believe something else. "Existentialism" is too good a name to be used on these beliefs.
if we make up our own meaning in life and we're not doing what we want for example, but im not killing or stealing but if i want to, then i have the right to do it? You did say that if people don't want to do what they are doing then they should give it up at 2:55
The only bit of existentialism I don't quite agree on is the part about being an independent being from birth. Our birth is itself dependent on our parents, our ability to learn and assimilate information there on after is dependent on billions of years of evolution, the information we can learn about is also dependent on factors well beyond our control and all of this is what forms who we are. Overall, I don't believe in independent beings existing anywhere in this universe, even living in an independent manner requires dependency on the things you claim to be independent from to determine such a lifestyle.
Yeah I agree, but I think that agency is still a product of the environment. Change seems to be the most constant truth of reality, nothing stays the same and this is most fundamentally true on a quantum level. I think it's the fact that it's impossible to avoid change that allows complex interactions to have a growing and changing nature. To me, the nature vs nurture argument is really nature nurturing nature.
Interesting argument. I think this aligns with the whole nature vs. nurture debate. It is my opinion that we are a product of our environment but we also have agency to make change in ourselves and the our environments.
The basis of all reasoning is the minds awereness of itself. What we think, the external objects we precieve, are all like actors that come on and of stage, but our conscienceness, the stage itself, is always present to us.
You tube has new censorship policies, so anything, that does not go along with what is politically correct, gets sent to the bottom of the que, does not receive likes or dislikes, viewers are not allowed to comment, and there is monetization for the video creators.
So basically the thought police are making it hard for anyone to have an opinion, except for the ones they think you should have. It is a free speech issue. I am all for carefully flagged video's inciting violence and death, but this mainly effect content that is simply not popular. It would be a good idea if you believe in free speech to open another account somewhere else too, as so your viewers know where to follow.
Live authentically.....thanks to Hitler we can see where that can lead! As few as Hitler's 'type' may be, look at the destruction one individual caused, God help us if there are a handful of his kind 'just living authentically to themselves'!
Looks like you havent understood what living authenticly means. It doesnt mean "its moral to harm people you don't like (wrong skin color? Wrong lifestyle, wrong belief, false way of looking at me, etc.)". Thats why people oppose facism. Its dangerous to live with them.
Hey Thought Monkey, just recently found your channel. Great content! You deserve far more coverage! After watching many of your videos, I get the feeling that you do have a certain feeling and perspective on life as myself, and I'd like to go just a bit further. I don't claim I can see things more clearly that you or that I'm right, but perhaps opening your mind to my perspective would be beneficial to you too.
I recently left college, and lost my mother soon after coming back to take care of her before her departure. I've always been a lot into philosophy and considered myself a deep thinker. Now that I've been home for a good amount of time, I've had time to greatly learn, think and search for truth and meaning in my own life.
In this video, existentialism says that all people don't have a purpose but can forge their own, and while this is partly true, in that every person should carve their own path, and must because every road is different, but the goal is actually all the same, to live, to grow and be a better person, make the world a better place, and lastly, stay with me, get to know and understand God, which really is just all of the above.
The God I'm talking about isn't the one of religion, with a man in robes with a white beard and has 10 commandments you must follow or be sent to hell. The one I'm talking about is the one of nature. A famous person who I would think the same God as I think exist would be Albert Einstein. You seem quite well educated in science, and I feel you know about the forefront of our understanding about the cosmos. In particular Carl Sagan, or is now followed by Neil Degrass Tyson. We now understand, as Sagan said, that we are star stuff, getting to know itself. In other words, we are the universe. The very stars like the sun, and their fusion process when they go supernova create the very elements that life is made of. If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend the Cosmos: A Personal Voyage series.
How does any of this have anything to do with God? Well, the God I'm talking about is the one who is everything. He is everyone, everything and everywhere. He really is all these things because we are all these things. I have one thing to say to link it all up though. It's funny because a lot of religions say that their God is all loving, to which he really is, but so is the God I'm talking about. Why? Because, as I said, we are everyone, and yet we all individually love ourselves. We seek to prolong our lives, to learn and grow to be a better person. We do this because we love ourselves, but if we realize that we are everyone, then we in essence, must love everyone and everything. This realization means we should take care of others just like we take care of ourselves. This is a facet of the ultimate truth I've come to understand. It really was quite simple, to love and take care of all life, just as you do yourself, because all life is you!
There's a wonderful saying that I've stolen and it goes something like this, "evolution is the harmonic expression life takes to know God." It didn't go exactly like that, but I rephrased it to my liking. Just like the laws of physics, we, and life are bound to certain rules that must be followed, or we will suffer the consequences. This is what evolution is, it attempts to adopt the best possible traits so it can suffer the least in its environment!
Now is humanity's turn. All the ills, problems and suffering we endure in life, both individually or collectively is because we are still in the process of evolving to create a better biological trait, government system and collective society that will better suit our true human nature, thus reducing our suffering! It was quite simple indeed, to leave the world a better place than when we came!
I'm sure you've already seen this as I'm getting a certain idea of your character after seeing all your videos, but if you haven't seen it, watch the Zeitgeist documentary series. Another good one would be Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take, but has a lot more non-evidence proven ideas, but the overall theme and idea to better the world is essentially the same as Zeitgeist, and as mine.
It's funny because I precisely remember in some of your videos where you mention ayahuasca and zen, both are which very spiritual, and yes, the whole point of this message is really about spiritual awakening. Good luck and I look forward to your next video!
First of all, read Kierkegaard if you wish to relate Existentialism to God. Second, using gendered pronouns for God obscures your access to it. Third, I'm disappointed in Thought Monkey's retort; it is obvious that you errantly conflate the Abrahamic conception of God with your quasi-"nature God." God as all-loving...psht. Consider the problem of evil for starters. Fourth, you posit an "ultimate" truth--thus, you are not a Sartrean Existentialist. Contradictions on contradictions :(
Wow what a comment. Yes I see your perspective and mine are closely aligned. I take more eastern point of view of what God is which I think science takes as well - star stuff. There is something unknowable, mysterious, and fascinating about this universe we live in. Glad you enjoy my content :).
This is an absolute lie. Muhammed was a warlord who slaughtered and beheaded people. He conducted himself in the same manner we see ISIS doing today. He also was a pedophile as he married and slept with his 9 year old wife. But don't take my word for it, look in the Quran like this guy said. You cant just be blind or try mental gymnastics for the bad parts. Islam is NOT the same as terrorism, but the Quran calls for war against those who are non beleivers or insult the prophet. FUCK Islam. If you don't believe in Santa Clause, just know it's pretty much the same as God. People tell people stories to get them to be nice not naughty with false promises.
No, Islam and terrorism are two different things. If you go through the Holy Quran, you will come to know that Islam is against the terrorism and extremism and its a peaceful religion; infact the Muslims have been the biggest victims of terrorism. According to Islam, murder of one innocent human being is the murder of whole humanity.
I remember one of my philosophy teachers mentioned something about how we've only discovered ideas rather than invented them. He gave the example of a chair and what defines it. He said that the chair is only a chair because of its function (something along those lines). Those this have something to do with that? or is that a different concept? I'm just wondering because I want to revisit it.
I was thinking that since objects are defined by their functions and man is what he does there might be something tying these two (?) ideas... I put question mark because I dont know if we're just objects with multiple functions.. hope that makes sense or maybe I'm mixing things that are completely unrelated. Let me know if that rings any bell. cheers
Super interesting idea. I believe that the philosophy of existentialism has more to do with how to define your life. The only purpose you have in life is the one that you give it. But I love thinking about the fact that everything already exists - but we just have yet to discover what we haven't discovered yet :).
Thought Monkey I think I'm kinda existentialist n I think it is not necessary for life and universe to have any purpose, we make the purpose and believe in it. Bt I kinda not satisfied with ur example at the end, coz instead of people understanding what it truly means to be an existentialist , people would think the ur exam is in itself existentialism.
Don't read Sarte if you have anxiety, at least not Nausea. He perfectly describes what its like having an anxiety attack without meaning too, and after reading what he writes youll see the world in a much more untrustworthy way. Those writings can mess with your brain for months, years even. Other than that I'd say go for him, though he may give you anxiety if you didnt know you had it in the first place.
Camus is a good one but they are extreme examples of the absurd constantly.
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