Existentialism vs Purpose – A Discussion

A Discussion of Existentialism

I have to be honest: I love it when people comment on my posts on Twitter.  After all, who doesn’t like having discussions or comments on their work?  For most, if not all of us, we enjoy receiving those positive and encouraging comments about what we’ve written or produced or drawn, etc.  But what about when we get into those not-so-nice comments?  Conversations where people do their best to put you and your work down?  Or, perhaps, conversations about existentialism versus purpose, as this post is about.

So let’s get started.

One thing that I firmly believe – something I’ve experienced for myself and heard stories from other people about – is that no matter what we’re going through, we can turn it into something good, a purpose, if you will.  I wrote about how I believe that everyone has a purpose and shared that belief with many other people.  It received a couple of interesting comments, on of which I responded to in my post A Comment On Purpose, explaining how I would go about finding that purpose.  More recently, however, that first post about purpose garnered this response on Twitter:

First off…what do you think of that?  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Why?

Needless to say, I disagree with the comment.  I’m sure you’ve got a fairly good idea of why I would disagree, but I would like to take a moment and just develop that point a little.

The Discussion

Ok ok, discussion might be putting it a little bit mildly.  Having looked at some of his tweets and replies, it seems that Space Needle Exchange really likes to argue.  Call it what you will, but some of his tweets do come across in that manner – which one or two of my own followers have commented on.  Even so, he makes his point that life has no inherent purpose.  According to him, not every life is worth living.

Now whether or not you agree with him, I find it quite an interesting point because, in some respects, it sounds very much as though we’re born to die and our lives don’t matter.  To support this theory, he cites the case of Genie, a feral child in LA.  He states that her life was meaningless, there was no purpose to it whatsoever.  After all, she was feral, she was a victim of one of the worst cases of child abuse ever recorded in the US and to this day no one seems to know what happened to her.  How could she possibly have a purpose?

In response to this, I argued that in actuality, would her purpose not have been that she was a driving force in getting governments and social services to respond to the horrible reality of child abuse?  As uncomfortable as it might be to think about, could one not argue that her suffering was made purposeful by the attention it garnered?  I’m not saying she was put on this earth to suffer, by any means.  But maybe there was a purpose in the end.

You see, in my post about finding purpose and also in Episode 14 of the podcast, I stated that purpose is not necessarily found in the situation itself but can come from after we’ve made it through.  Sometimes we might not ever make it through.  If you want to get religious, you could argue that Jesus came with the sole purpose of dying.  Likewise, there are people who would martyr themselves for a purpose.  Is it such a stretch of the imagination to believe that this poor girl, this feral child, might have had a purpose in her life after coming to the attention of the media?  Maybe, maybe not.


One point that I picked up on in that aforementioned tweet was how Space Needle Exchange argued that existentialism clearly wasn’t important to me.  Now, I’m not a philosopher, nor am I someone who goes around questioning the meaning of life (which is 42, by the way!) but I did some reading up about existentialism and believe I’ve found a fundamental flaw in his argument.  As far as I understand it (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), where existence precedes essence, it is argued that the actual life of the individuals makes up their “true essence” which seems to mean that human beings, through their own consciousness, determine a meaning to their life by creating their own values.

Does that not mean that we, as humans, create our own purpose?

Likewise, does that not also mean that our purpose can be what we make it?

By extension, as it does talk about consciousness, for people who are unable to create their own values, in the case of Genie, would that not suggest that we are able to influence the purpose of others as well?

I’d say so.  What do you think?

A Final Note

I should point out that the second post I mentioned – A Comment On Purpose – Space Needle Exchanged admitted he had not read it, nor was he going to.  He simply argued his point.

Me, I still believe everyone has a purpose.  We may not see it now.  Potentially, we may not see it at all.  But I still firmly believe that purpose is what we make it.  It’s subject to each individual case, but it is what we make of it.  If we’re going through the darkness, what do we do with that darkness?  We can give it a purpose by taking it and using it for good.

What do you think?  Let me know.  I am interested in your thoughts for this one.  Take heart from what I’m saying, though.  Take your darkness and turn it into purpose.  Don’t let people discourage you from finding that purpose because there is certainly something out there for you.

I took my struggle and I turned it into a purpose.  I turn it into a purpose every single day.  More than that, I believe everyone has it in them to do the same thing.  If they are somehow unable to, I believe others can do it for them.

Life is not inherently good, nor is it something that we should take for granted, but you can make it into something better.  You can do it.  So please, take heart from that.  Don’t let your struggle become your identity, remember instead that you can turn it into something good.

After all, we, through our own consciousness, define our own morals and values and, thus, determine the meaning to our lives.

So go determine that meaning.

Take care, guys!

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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