What is an existential optimist?
"As a nature lover and a self-described existential optimist, Boegehold wrestles with the profundity of life against the odds."
That was an intriguing expression in the promise of reading by Ben Boegehold from his unpublished manuscript “Almanac: Love Poems for the Unrepeatable World."
Boegehold, an author and nature lover, describes himself as an existential optimist. But what does that mean? Simply put, an existential optimist is someone who maintains a positive outlook on life, even in the face of the profound challenges and uncertainties that come with human existence.
Tracy Ross, author of "Certainty of One—A Tale of Education Automation," also considers herself an existential optimist, stating that it takes more courage to laugh at the rain than to cry in it. She recognizes that life can be challenging and unpredictable, but chooses to remain optimistic and find the good in every situation.
Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existential philosopher, stated in his 1946 speech "Existentialism Is a Humanism" that "no doctrine is more optimistic" than existentialism. He argues that existentialism is not a philosophy of quietism or pessimism, but rather an ethic of action and self-commitment. It places the destiny of man within himself and tells him that the one thing which permits him to have life is the deed. In this way, existentialism offers the individual the freedom and responsibility to create their own meaning and purpose in life, which can be a source of optimism in the face of life's challenges and uncertainties.
While some may find existentialism to be a bleak philosophy, Sartre suggests that those who reject it may be doing so out of fear of confronting the possibility of choice. Ultimately, the existential optimist embraces the freedom and responsibility that comes with existentialism and chooses to remain optimistic, even in the face of life's greatest challenges.