Existentialism and the Concept of Freedom

Existentialism is a philosophical term in used with the emphasis on freedom, individual existence, as well as the individual choice. Ideally, it is the perspective upon which human beings define their life’s meanings. Existentialism is what helps the human beings to make rational decisions despite the fact that they live and survive in a universe characterized by very irrational occurrences and environments (Shafer-Landau 1). Existentialism emphasizes on the question of the existence of humans, focusing a lot of efforts on the feeling of the absence of the explanation or the purpose of existence. Existentialism holds to the provision that there is no God or any form of higher controlling power or force. In light of the above, the provisions of existentialism believe that every human being is free and must, therefore, take complete accountability and responsibility for all their actions and results. However, the above provision of freedom, as underlined under the existentialistic mentality, brings out the ambiguity of freedom.

The understanding of freedom is not as easy as the proponents and provisions of existentialism tend to portray. From the existentialistic point of view, the world upon which every individual engages himself relates to the human world whose major characteristic is the penetration of human meaning to every object (Shafer-Landau 1). If consists of appeals and solicitations. The meaning of the above is that in an existentialistic kind of life, the content of the freedom of every person derives its meaning from specific content created by different individuals. In light of the above, it is not possible to have the same definition of freedom across everybody. The content of freedom is different from one person to another. The only expectation from each is that the freedom according to each should show “give itself content”. By giving itself content, the existentialistic point of view refers to the provision that every individual is responsible and accountable for every action he or she does in the pursuit of enjoying freedom. Thus, even with utmost freedom to do anything, every existentialistic individual should ensure that his or her actions do not in a way get back to him, that is, they are meant for utmost positive results. The above is the meaning of giving content to freedom. In short, it is not freedom in vain. It is meant for positivity and intended to support the flow of good actions in the present and in the future.

With respect to the above information, content is closely related to “engagement in the world”. As highlighted above, the content is ideally the actions that define the freedom. In light of the above, content refers to the exact actions executed in the pursuit of exercising freedom as an existentialistic individual (Beauvoir 30). On the other hand, engagement in the world refers to the relationship or rapport created and maintained between an individual and the world in which he or she lives. Rationally, not everybody subscribes to the same point of view with respect to what is good and what is wrong. Therefore, as human beings co-exist in the world with different views and philosophical points of views, content and “engagement in the world” become vital to observe. Ideally, in the process of an individual carrying out various actions with respect to content in an existentialistic mentality, he or she must bear in mind not to affect other individuals who do not share in his school of thoughts.

The example of Van Gogh as stipulated in de Beauvoir’s book helps a lot in explaining on the individual’s engagement with the world. As illustrated by the example, Van Gogh easily accepted the fate of living his later life without pursuing his life as a painter (Beauvoir 29). The content of his freedom was the art of painting. The example helps in advising existentialistic individuals in choosing the best content for their freedom. In so doing, they can positively engage with the world, both at the present as well as in the future. Additionally, the example also advises the individuals to ensure that the content of their freedom finds a strong basis at always conquering existence across all time frames.

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