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The Difference Between Existentialism, Nihilism, and Absurdism

DECEMBER 11, 2014 IN PHILOSOPHY

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Many philosophers have believed for centuries that there’s no intrinsic meaning in the universe. Here I’ll summarize three of the major responses to this belief.

  1. Existentialism is the belief that through a combination of awareness, free will, and personal responsibility, one can construct their own meaning within a world that intrinsically has none of its own.
  2. Nihilism is the belief that not only is there no intrinsic meaning in the universe, but that it’s pointless to try to construct our own as a substitute.
  3. Absurdism is the belief that a search for meaning is inherently in conflict with the actual lack of meaning, but that one should both accept this and simultaneously rebel against it by embracing what life has to offer.
Adapted from Daniel Miessler's Blog 2014