Existentialism is a philosophical movement that believes in the inherent meaninglessness of life. It teaches people to find their purpose and meaning in this universe. But does existentialism believe in free will?
Existentialism is defined in different ways, but it generally includes the following beliefs:
- That humans are free and responsible for their actions
- That humans are alone in a meaningless universe
- That human life has no inherent meaning
- That humans must create their purpose in life.
Existentialists believe that humans are free and responsible for their actions. This means that we have the power to choose our destiny. We are not predetermined by fate or God to follow a certain path. Existentialists also believe that humans are alone in a meaningless universe. This doesn’t mean that we should all become hermits and never interact with others. Instead, it means that we must create meaning in life. We should not rely on others to tell us what to do or believe. Existentialists often focus on death, freedom, and the human condition.
Existentialism Free Will vs. Determinism
Determinism is defined as “the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions” [Source].
The difference between existentialism and determinism is that “determinism is (ethics) the doctrine that all actions are determined by the current state and immutable laws of the universe, with no possibility of choice while existentialism is (philosophy|not countable) a twentieth-century philosophical movement emphasizing the uniqueness of each human existence in freely making its self-defining choices” [Source].
These concepts tend to differ on the issue of humans having ‘free will in determining their life choice or actions. Existentialism was founded on the belief that people have free will to define their purpose in life and are free to do so. But determinism cancels out this idea by arguing that people do not have free will. This is because their actions are solely based on the laws of the universe. Existentialists do not recognize the state of the universe and its laws, so it all lies within an individual to make their own choices. On the other hand, determinism argues that one cannot separate a person from the universe, and the universe’s standards dictate a person’s actions.
Existentialism vs. Free Will
Free will is “the power or capacity of humans to make decisions or perform actions independently of any prior event or state of the universe” [Source]. In simple terms, free will is the ability of a person to make their own decisions while completely ignoring external factors.
Existentialists explain how humanity has no prescribed meaning or purpose in terms of free will. It becomes the responsibility of individuals to define their meaning and purpose.
So, free will is a right attained when one is born into this meaningless world. Free will under existentialism does not abide by any laws of the universe. It liberates people from the so-called ‘universal purpose of life. Existentialism, as a philosophy, is built around free will, which is a core belief among its followers. Critics of this philosophy despise it for influencing deviant behavior among people. They are too adamant about following the rules of the universe or shared values.
Do Existentialists believe in Free Will
Existentialists believe in free will, but this type of free will is closely linked with personal choice. They argue that individuals are responsible for defining their purpose and meaning in life. This can be achieved by certain life choices one makes, and whether these choices are good or bad lies at the discretion of the individual. Free will is a core belief of existentialism as a philosophy [Source].
Does Nietzsche believe in Free Will
Nietzsche rejected free will completely [Source], and he is described as a radical critic of the notion of free will. According to him, free will is a “theologians’ artifice” that permits us to “judge and punish,” so he did not subscribe to it [Source]. He suggested how an individual must “Become who you are.”
Does Sartre believe in Free Will?
From his works, it is clear that Sartre was a believer in free will. One of his popular arguments was that human existence resulted from chance or accident, so there is no meaning or purpose to life. His belief is summed up in the following statement on free will “There is no meaning or purpose of our lives other than what our freedom creates since existence manifests itself in the choice of actions, anxiety, and freedom of the will” [Source].
What is freedom according to Existentialism?
According to existentialism, freedom is “by oneself to determine oneself to wish,” as suggested by Sartre [Source]. He explained that all humans could be free, and “human freedom consists in consciousness’ ability to escape the present.” Such freedom depends on a person’s attitude and not on the situation. If individuals want to be free, they can be free with a determined attitude. Thus, liberty or freedom will enhance a person’s ability to make life choices, have a purpose, and find meaning in life.