Absurdism Vs Existentialism Vs Nihilism

Absurdism Vs Existentialism Vs Nihilism: Exploring The Three Philosophies

Philosophy is a vast and complex field, and it’s not always easy to understand the differences between ethical concepts that are often mistakenly deemed to be interchangeable. Three branches of philosophy, Absurdism, Existentialism, and Nihilism, are particularly closely related, and their respective philosophical positions are frequently misconstrued. The following article seeks to give readers a clear understanding of the key differences between these three philosophical concepts.


Let’s kick off by discussing Absurdism, which is a philosophical concept that grew out of the conflict between the perceived meaninglessness of human existence, and an individual’s natural desire to find purpose in their lives. Essentially, Absurdism hinges on the idea that there is no inherent meaning to life, but people seek to impose their own meaning on the world. Absurdism developed out of existentialism, particularly after the French Revolution and World War II, which shifted cultural paradigms and left individuals feeling disillusioned with traditional philosophical concepts.

The key tenets of Absurdism focus on the individual’s search for meaning in an ultimately meaningless universe. French author and philosopher Albert Camus is widely attributed with theorizing Absurdism. He argued that the only authentic response to the meaningless of the world was the recognition of absurdity, as opposed to contemplation or suicide. Camus posited that humans should embrace the absurdity of existence and focus on experiences and self actualization, rather than attempting to find meaning in life.


Existentialism is a related branch of philosophy, and it too is often misunderstood. In essence, existentialism aims to understand the complexity of human existence through the examination of personal experience and the underlying psychology of human beings. This branch of philosophy is based on the belief that every individual is responsible for their own life, their own choices and their own actions. This means that every act is an act of self-creation and every individual must accept responsibility for the reality they’ve created.

The key tenets of existentialism are forged through a deep and often difficult existential journey. By examining the nature of existence, human beings seek to achieve ultimate knowledge and meaning through introspection and reflection. Existentialism is often identified with holistic and spiritual aspects of philosophy, such as the idea of transcendence and the search for deeper, more fulfilling human experiences. Philosophers associated with the development of existentialism include Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Compelling works such as Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness” and de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” provide rich reflections on the nature of existence.


Nihilism is another philosophical concept that is often misunderstood. This branch of philosophy holds that life is inherently without meaning or purpose, and as a result, it is characterized by an almost an obsessive skepticism toward any traditional or established belief system. Within its tenets, nihilism argues that life is unimportant to the vastness of existence and suggests that the concept of right and wrong is human-created, without any inherent meaning.

Critics of nihilism argue that it is a bleak and ultimately immoral concept, as it seeks to undermine all forms of moral and ethical beliefs that underpin human society. Others have argued that nihilism is liberating, as it encourages individuals to free themselves from any institutional beliefs systems that limit their lives.


In conclusion, each of the three philosophical concepts, Absurdism, Existentialism, and Nihilism, seeks to provide answers for some of the most fundamental questions of life – such as the meaning of existence, and the role that an individual plays in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately, these three concepts are closely related and offer varying approaches to understanding the world we inhabit. By exploring these ideas in greater depth, individuals can come to understand the complexities of the human mind and gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity of existence.

Keywords: Absurdism Vs Existentialism Vs Nihilism, Philosophy, French Revolution, World War II, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus.