Why Existentialism and Citizenship?




Existentialism as a philosophical orientation provides powerful prescriptions to the problem of how to live in a universe without meaning. However, the commitments of existentialism can be quite daunting to accept for many people, as well as conflict with the basic tenets of most religions. Thus, existentialism as way of life is outside the comfort zones of most people.


That said, many of the same prescriptions from existentialism also apply to longstanding problems in citizenship. When these principles are applied more narrowly to just this concept of citizenship, the result is a powerful new conception of citizenship without also challenging the fundamental beliefs of people.

For most people, existentialism as an overarching worldview, with its emphasis on accepting and embracing the ultimate meaninglessness of the universe, appears either too daunting or too depressing. In addition, the assertion of the ultimate meaninglessness of the universe conflicts with the fundamental tenets of most religions which presuppose a benevolent deity or even just a beneficial order to the universe. Thus, existentialism as a basic belief system is not just outside the comfort zone of most people, but outside of their comprehension.

However, the basic principles of existentialism are also remarkably applicable to the real world experiences of people with politics and government. These principles provide a powerful justification for active political involvement, as well as a unique recipe for consistent engagement regardless of the outcome of specific political actions.

Further, the principles of existentialism are much less daunting and harrowing when applied in a much narrower scope to politics in particular instead of to life and the universe at large. Thus, people from all backgrounds and beliefs can still embrace and benefit from the powerful prescriptions of existentialism, while still maintaining their other core beliefs.