Philosophy, interpreted from Greek, means love of wisdom. To the existentialist philosopher, knowledge only exists upon knowing the purposeless nature of existence itself. Once known, one may not venture back.
“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” said Albert Camus, a 20th century existentialist.
With this knowledge, existentialists accept human nature is to create purpose out of a lack of meaning. In a world where everything means nothing, everything has to mean something.
Jean-Paul Sartre, a 20th century French philosopher and key figure in existentialism, conceptualizes this realization with “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
The idea associated with enlightenment thinker John Locke is that humans come into the world as a blank slate lies under this declaration of man’s liberty. While experiences mold individuals, freedom is what the individual does with this. Thus, the price and privilege of living a free life exists.
Though the idea of total responsibility in a world of pointlessness may seem unfair or even daunting, once past this initiation, only true freedom follows. Essentially, it boils down to this: one cannot experience the liberation found in life unless one can create it in oneself.
In this way, there cannot exist a greater power than that of humans. The world cannot, nor will it give anyone freedom. People must claim it for themselves; moreover, they must earn it.
This idea that the individual must claim liberation for their own inspires the potent twinge of rebellion. Though the world may have no meaning, the act of pursuing purpose exists as an individual defiance echoing on a cosmic scale; thus, creating purpose in itself.
The fulfillment wrought from carving one’s own path has no comparison. One cannot gather it from society, religion or even the times. It can only come from within. The weighted honor of which resonates with the human condition.
Everyone lives and dies alone in this world. Along the way they may have friends, lovers and family, but in the end they traverse and exit the mortal plane alone. None of it has any worth unless they create their own.
Look not for the self in others. Look not for others in the self. Look for everything in nothing.