In continental philosophy particularly existentialism, thinkers reject the idea that there are any predetermined or given meanings/values in life, and stresses that we must take up our freedom and responsibility to go and create meaning for ourselves. These thinkers also tend to argue that there is no inherent human nature, or inherent essence when it comes to things such as gender identity.

However I also want to consider opposing perspectives, so I want to know are there secular philosophers who argue that there is in fact predetermined/given meaning and value in life and it's not entirely arbitrary social constructs, that there is in fact such a thing as human nature? Are there secular philosophers who argue for essentialism?


1 Answer 1


Yes, there are such thinkers. I will mention four of them.

One is Rene Guenon. He was a French philosopher from the 20th century, and he went against the grain of moderns thought as such. He thought that human life has meaning, we are creatures of God, following cultural traditions is the only right way to live. He converted to Islam and spent the last years of his life if Cairo, Egypt.

Another one is Julius Evola. He thought existentialism and other modern schools of thought are products of modernity, and modernity is a mistake that happened in the 16th century Western Europe. Modernity de-sacralizes human existence and makes it meaningless, and ditching it altogether is the only way to save humankind.

Controversial Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin is the greatest contemporary Russian philosopher. It's amazing that he wrote the biggest philosophical work ever, his 'Noomachia' is now 26 volumes long, bigger than Aquinas's monster 'Summa Theologica'. He was heavily influenced by Evola and Guenon, and almost all of his works criticize modernity.

Carl Jung believed that human life has meaning, but it is difficult introspective work getting down to it. If we tap into our subconscious and harmoniously integrate it with our consciousness we will see meaning in religious teachings, and our life will make sense to us.

All of these thinkers were traditionalists and believed that there is such a thing as human essence / nature.

  • 4
    The question was asking about secular philosophers, so not sure the first 2 count?
    – Frank
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 15:17

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