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Existentialism is a philosophical movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. A definition of existentialism is impossible, as there is a supreme diversity of positions that are associated with existentialism. However, it suggests one major theme: a stress on individual existence and on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice. In terms of moral choice, existentialists have argued that there is no objective, or rational basis for decisions. They stress the importance of individualism in deciding questions of morality and truth. Freedom of choice is a main theme. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of their actions.

The absurd has been defined by many an existentialist writer. Miguel de Unamuno says it is the "tragic sense of life"; JeanPaul Sartre calls it "nausea"; Richard Wright perceives it as the shame, dread, and fear that minorities experience in a dominant racist society, causing them to feel dispossessed and disinherited, thereby living in a "No Man's Land"; and Walker Percy defines it as "alienation," "everydayness," and "homelessness." Speaking generally, the absurd is the experience of an individual trying to relate to an irrational world. This connects to existentialism in that it is this way of existing, through a passionate choice, a revolt against any moral or metaphysical absolutes, and a total commitment to freedom, which becomes the focal point of existential thought.

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