‘Existentialism’ may either label a movement in European philosophy from the mid 19th Century onwards, or, more generally, a philosophical focus on the meaning, value, and purpose of human, or sentient, existence as such.

In the first case, Existentialism began with Kierkegaard and developed through Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. In the second case, it includes aspects of philosophical traditions such as Buddhism, but also writers, artists, psychologists, anthropologists, and so on, who examine ‘existential’ themes.