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Existentialism is a term applied to a range of philosophical thoughts that emphasise on the fundamental nature of existence, exploring the uniqueness of human experience and freedom facing hostile and absurd surroundings. Some existentialists stress on the imperative for individuals to create their own meaning in face of apparent meaninglessness. Prominent thinkers of existentialism include Søren Kierkegaard, Frederich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Lev Shestov (photographed on the right), Jean-Paul Sartre, Karl Jaspers, and Martin Buber.

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Existentialism is a Humanism (L'existentialisme est un humanisme) is a 1946 philosophical work by Jean-Paul Sartre. It is seen by many as one of the defining texts in the Existentialist movement.

In his text, Sartre says that the key defining point of Existentialism is that the existence of a person comes chronologically before his or her essence. In simple terms, this means that, although that person exists, there is nothing to dictate that person's character, goals in life, and so on. Only the person himself can define his essence. Thus, Sartre rejects what he calls "deterministic excuses" and claims that all people must take responsibility for their behaviour. Sartre defines angst and despair as the emotions people feel once they come to realize that they are responsible for all of their actions. He also describes forlornness as loneliness atheists feel when they realize that they are all alone, that there is no God to watch over them. This is associated with despair and angst.

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Martin Buber (8 February 1878 – 13 June 1965) was an Austrian-Israeli-Jewish philosopher, translator, and educator, whose work centered on theistic ideals of religious consciousness, interpersonal relations, and community. Buber's evocative, sometimes poetic writing style has marked the major themes in his work: the retelling of Hasidic tales, Biblical commentary, and metaphysical dialogue. A cultural Zionist, Buber was active in the Jewish and educational communities of Germany and Israel. He was also a staunch supporter of a binational solution in Palestine, instead of a two-state solution, and after the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, of a regional federation of Israel and Arab states. His influence extends across the humanities, particularly in the fields of social psychology, social philosophy, philosophical anarchism, and religious existentialism.



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