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existentialism

[eg-zi-sten-shuh-liz-uh m, ek-si-] /ˌɛg zɪˈstɛn ʃəˌlɪz əm, ˌɛk sɪ-/
noun, Philosophy
1.
a philosophical attitude associated especially with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, and opposed to rationalism and empiricism, that stresses the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices.
Origin
1940-1945
1940-45; < German Existentialismus (1919); see existential, -ism
Related forms
existentialist, adjective, noun
existentialistic, adjective
existentialistically, adverb
nonexistentialism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for existentialist
  • While studying at the university, he adopted an existentialist philosophy.
  • No one will know whether you're an existentialist, a nihilist, or some new sort of philosophical wonder not yet named.
  • Portrait of a noted twentieth-century philosopher whose work helped inspire the existentialist movement.
  • Not surprisingly, the film is drenched with existentialist philosophy, but overall it works best as a romantic tragedy.
  • Of course, no existentialist philosopher would let him do that.
  • It was born in the aftermath of existentialist anxieties about presence and absence, the there and the not-there.
British Dictionary definitions for existentialist

existentialism

/ˌɛɡzɪˈstɛnʃəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe
Derived Forms
existentialist, adjective, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for existentialist
adj.

1945, from French existentialiste, from existentialisme (1940); see existentialism. Related: Existentialistic.

existentialism

n.

1941, from German Existentialismus (1919), replacing Existentialforhold (1849), ultimately from Danish writer Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), who wrote (1846) of Existents-Forhold "condition of existence," existentielle Pathos, etc. (see existential), and whose name means, literally, "churchyard."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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existentialist in Culture

existentialism definition


A movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, with some forerunners in earlier centuries. Existentialism stresses that people are entirely free and therefore responsible for what they make of themselves. With this responsibility comes a profound anguish or dread. Søren Kierkegaard and Feodor Dostoevsky in the nineteenth century, and Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus in the twentieth century, were existentialist writers.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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