Existentialism-A Review of Literature

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Existentialism-A Review of Literature

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A review of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will enable us shed more light as far as individuality and self-actualization is concerned. The most important point to note in Maslow’ theory of needs is how he views self-actualization as the highest need for man. He indicates it as the culmination of all other human needs. Linking his theory to existentialism, it can be seen that existentialism warrants justification from psychology point of view. That their claims are not only philosophical but also psychological in that individuality and self-actualization is a matter of principle (Fear and Tremblin, 164). The following is a self-explanatory diagram of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Existentialism rests on two major themes namely the critical investigation of human existence and the centrality of human will as the faculty that governs his freedom of choice. Freedom and self responsibility mark the essence of human existence (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 1).   Existentialism is more inclined to human existence and disregards other structures that are externally around him/her. Men and women are free to transform their lives to what they want. It is upon them to make themselves the kind of people they want to be. In addition they also determine their destiny and the kind of world they want to live in. This freedom, however, is not devoid of responsibilities (French Literature Companion, 1). According to Sartre human existence takes precedence and then his/her essence follows. He is not of the idea that essence is prior to existence as many philosophers in the medieval times thought and believed. Existentialism sets human minds free from the prejudices of their customs or mythical beliefs. The assertion from Sartre that existence determines essence seems to play a foundational role in existentialism.

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