Existentialism Defined in Two Sentences

The following occurred to me on waking from a nap this afternoon: Existentialism can be summed up in just six words consisting of two sentences:

You’re going to die.

Your move.

File:Meister der Manessischen Liederhandschrift 004.jpg

Chess players, medieval Germany, circa 1305-1340. (Image source: Wikipedia Commons.)

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Existentialism Defined in Two Sentences

  1. Peter Smith says:

    To me that seems to be a self-refuting definition.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Only if you take death as immanent in the next moment. Death is certain; when you will die is not. Your move.

    • Peter Smith says:

      I was referring to “Your move
      That statement admits
      – that we have agency (we can act, ‘your’ move)
      – that there is opportunity or space to act (death is in the future, ‘going to die’)
      – that there is purpose (‘move’ is directed action)

      Placing it implicitly in the context of a chess game just reinforces the interpretation. The chess board is symbolic of an ordered world with clear rules and well defined purpose. It is true the game is a struggle, with many casualties and also ends in death. And yet in that struggle we find such intense meaning(ask any chess player). Furthermore there is always the next game. As a devout Catholic(and chess player) I find your analogy very appealing.

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