Jean-Paul Sartre If you are interested in Existentialism, this is the book you should dive into. Most people apparently want to read about beauty and bliss and puppies and all those things that are part of one side of our reality. That is why Sartre made and answered the following question: "What, then, is 'existentialism'?" He then started by explaining one of the most important principles of the doctrine: existence precedes essence. That alone might sound confusing, but Sartre's masterful use of metaphors and engaging prose made it all possible. In a universe where there is not a god, man is born empty without a specific purpose. The author later affirmed that when man makes a choice, he does not make it just for himself but for all humanity. Those choices reflect on us what we think a man should be. Try not to feel pressured for the great responsibility that represents making choices that concerns all people in the planet. There are certain words that people use to arrive to the conclusion that existentialism is a depressing way to look at the world: anguish, abandonment, despair. They are all related to what the author explained about man's existence in a godless world. That thought led him to one of the most memorable lines of the book: That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free: condemned, because he did not create himself, yet nonetheless free, because once cast into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. (29) Freedom has been defined as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Can a person be happy while knowing that he is free because there is no God but, at the same time, not so free because he is a victim of some system? Just like there are several concepts of freedom, there are many factors that restrict them, making the man feel like a powerless individual immersed in a situation he cannot complain about without being replaced in a heartbeat. On one hand, we are condemned to be free; on the other, freedom is apparently nothing more than theory, something we experience by convincing ourselves that we are free while being constrained by political or economical factors (Locke explained it with much more precise words). Sartre skillfully explained that we are the ones that find a particular meaning in those signs. From the moment that the possibilities I am considering cease to be rigorously engaged by my action, I must no longer take interest in them, for no God or greater design can bend the world and its possibilities to my will. In the final analysis, when Descartes said "Conquer yourself rather than the world," he actually meant the same thing: we should act without hope.
Reading Sartres Existentialism is a Humanism has been as arduous as it has been stimulating, for while I did try to understand his philosophy, I could also acutely discern what challenged my understanding of his work. He says: Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world and defines himself afterwards. In this World where God is Dead, we humans are condemned to be free. Condemned because we do not exist out of our choice but our existence is, to begin with, imposed upon us i.e. we are here first and then once we become aware of this existence, are only we free to make out whatever we wish to from it, any action that we will to, in a world which doesnt offer any objective, guidance or consolation. Anguish, for being aware of the weight of responsibility of our freedom, for if God does not exist we are left without excuses. While explaining existentialism, he strongly opines that there is no human nature because there is no God. By this he means, there is no conception prior to the existence of man, but that man simply is. Hence, man is defined by the sum total of actions that he takes and his relation with the world. Second, even if we argue that this cannot be the case, Sartre gives the example of a coward whose actions determine the way he live his life (cowardly) still what can be said of people who are not even remotely aware of their freedom i.e. even the freedom to think, let alone to choose or act. What can be said of their life since it is not a life which is a sum total of their actions, because strictly speaking they do not act themselves for they cannot even think.
Existentialism is an Essentialism This is supposed to be the only one of his lectures that Sartre regretted seeing in print. Sartre repeatedly implies that he will not admit to this essay/lecture being considered as an introduction to his philosophy. It is an essentialism And even if only for this glorious vision of Humanism, this small lecture should stand as an important monument.
Essentially, Existentialism Is a Humanism is a lecture that Sartre gave in Paris during 1945. The major bone of contention of the latter was the repugnance, this doctrine created by perennially pushing the Man or the Individual, into wells of anguish, abandonment and despair. To begin with, he describes the principle tenet of Existentialism as valuing human life by empowering the individual to make his choices and take actions and holding him accountable for the environment his action creates for himself as well as the human community. . Since AE doesnt acknowledge the presence of God, there is no divine intelligence from which the essence of the Man (who is to be created), can be drawn. Hence, the Man has to essentially exist first and then, go about finding/ creating his essence in life. Anguish He maintains that every action of the individual is not restricted to individual ramification alone but extends to human community as well.He gives this example: By undertaking to marry, I am committing not only myself but to all of humanity, the practice of monogamy. At some point in the essay, Sartre says, The only way I can measure the strength of this affection is precisely by performing an action that confirms and defines it. While taking a fresh call on an existing event, doesnt the past experience form part of the set of probable choices upon which the subsequent action will be based? Now, if knowing myself mandates the presence of another individual, then there is a reference point, a yardstick; which is against the fundamentals of AE doctrine, right?