Philosophy of life

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There are at least two senses in which the term philosophy is used: a formal and an informal sense. In the formal sense, philosophy is an academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social and political philosophy. One's "philosophy of life" is philosophy in the informal sense, as a personal philosophy, whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human condition.[1]

The term also refers to a specific conception of philosophizing as a way of life,[2] endorsed by the German Lebensphilosophie movement whose main representative is Wilhelm Dilthey[3] and several other Continental philosophers such as Henri Bergson[4] and Pierre Hadot.[2]

The human situation[edit]

The human situation appears to be a struggle between what is (existence) and what ought (essence) to be.

Main answers to the existential question[edit]

There are at least three prevailing theories on how to respond to the existential question.

Denial of essence[edit]

Denial of existence[edit]

Affirmation of life[edit]

Religion as an attempt to overcome the existential predicament[edit]

There are two basic forms of existentialism:

Religious existentialism[edit]

Religious existentialism is best exemplified by St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Paul Tillich, and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Religious existentialism holds that there are two levels of reality, essence, which is the ground of being, and existence. Religion is the ultimate concern in this view.

Atheistic existentialism[edit]

Atheistic existentialism is best exemplified by Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. It holds that there is one level of reality, existence. In this view, each person constructs his own unique and temporary essence.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Timothy Fetler, Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion Charts, Sun Press, 1968.
  2. ^ a b Pierre Hadot (1922-2010) by Matthew Sharpe in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. ^ Scott Campbell, Paul W. Bruno (eds.), The Science, Politics, and Ontology of Life-Philosophy, Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 8.
  4. ^ Michael Chase, Stephen R. L. Clark, Michael McGhee (eds.), Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancients and Moderns – Essays in Honor of Pierre Hadot, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, p. 107.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic journals