Life and Death in Existentialism

I do not understand why life gives life purpose. As soon as Mr. Heidkamp said that in class, I questioned it. How can life give life purpose?

We as humans value our lives because we know that one day they will end. In some cases, people who know they are dying soon adopt and Existentialist point of view. In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer. After she is diagnosed, she realizes that she never really enjoyed life. She never smoked, drank, and always watched what she ate. Once she comes to this realization, she orders a dozen cakes to eat, shoplifts chocolate from the hospital gift shop, and gets drunk at a bar. She was motivated by death.

In the Percy Jackson book series, Percy is offered immortality by the gods at the end of the last book. To everyone’s surprise, he turns it down. He doesn’t want immortality because it would take away the value of life.

I think that death gives life meaning. Death motivates us to make the best use of our lives. If we never died, we would never value our life experiences because we would always be able to repeat them, and that does not seem like a life worth living to me.

2 thoughts on “Life and Death in Existentialism

  1. This is some really insightful commentary! The Percy Jackson example really drove it home for me. Death is often why I want to do something meaningful with my life. I have always dreamt of being famous, for the same reason. So that my existence will have lasting power past my futile existence.


  2. Sonia Z

    This is interesting. I think a lot of people are motivated by death, but also at a smaller level motivated by a changing of ability. This could be aging, physical inabilities, etc. I sometimes find myself motivated by changing situations and relationships, pushing me to do things before a certain scenario doesn’t exist naturally anymore (like a group of people or activity i’m a part of). It’s so cool to think about the different paces people live their lives and their motivations for maintaining their individual speeds.


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