Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 22, No 2 (2014)

Evolution and Existentialism

Sharon M Kaye
Issued Date: 17 Apr 2015


Many philosophers embrace both evolution and existentialism as though these two views provide a mutually supportive foundation for atheism. The story goes that evolution tells us life is meaningless while existentialism tells us what to do about it. In this paper, I aim to debunk this story. I begin by explaining the existentialist quest for the meaning of life. Then I explain why it is inconsistent with the principles of evolution. In the end, I argue that the quest for the meaning of life should be abandoned. It is a misleading project that science renders unnecessary. Looked at in this light, existentialism appears as a stripped down version of religion, vainly clinging to dramatic fantasies about human life. Evolution has had a deep and valuable impact upon philosophy. It will not have completed its work, however, until it stamps out existentialism and its atavistic angst once and for all.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v22i2.21235


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