Jean-Paul Sartres Existentialism.

I. What does Sartre mean by saying that  existence precedes essence
Jean-Paul Sartre is one of the most well-known philosophers who developed the theory of existentialism. In his theory, he claims that  existence precedes essence,  which implies that a human being existed first before its essence. It is completely apart from the Christian belief that humans are born with a purpose. This premise is usually compared to the idea that for existentialists, a chair is made by a carpenter without the concept of it being sit upon. Its purpose is not to be used as a  chair  but rather, it only becomes a chair when people start using it as one. 
Individuals do not have natures or essences that determine their behaviour and     that there is no such thing as human nature or a human essence. A person first     exists he materializes in the world, encounters himself, and only afterwards defines himself Thus, from the Christians view, the carpenter made a chair out of wood while knowing that its purpose is to be sit upon by people. It already has meaning even before it was built by the carpenter. However, in an existentialist point of view, the chair is meaningless unless people construct its meaning by sitting on it. This belief connotes that we are born in this world without any purpose or functions rather, we design our own purpose and meaning as we grow up. Our lives are not determined by destiny or any Higher Being instead, we create our own destiny. Clearly, Sartres view puts emphasis on human beings free will instead of destiny. He argues that human beings track their own path through their decisions, actions, and mistakes and not because it is their destined path.

II. What are his grounds for claiming that there is no human nature
Sartre argues that the existence of God is false. He does not believe in God so is existentialist view is extremely atheist. As an atheist, he simply does not dismiss the concept of God but also the other associated concepts related to His existence. He claims that there is no God who created us because he believes that when we first entered this world, we are purposeless creatures who, upon the aid of learning and growth, are given the freedom to choose the way we live our lives. We simply exist. He identified two types of existence in the world which he refers to as  being-for-itself  and  being-in-itself.   Being-for-itself  refers to humans  freedom to design their life for the sake of their existence, while  being-in-itself  refers to the objects which have no freedom and consciousness to do things that are not covered by their essence. This includes non-living things that do not have a mind of their own therefore, they could not make a meaning out of their own existence but rather, the people who use them construct their meanings. Hence, a  being-for-itself  has complete freedom to pursue the things that it wants to gain, whereas  being-in-itself  has limitations to what it can pursue because it restricted only to its purpose.
Apparently, all of our decisions are based on our choices. However, the consequences brought about by our choices are also ours to take accountability for. We have no one to blame but ourselves if the results of our actions are unpleasant because we have no human nature. We should not use the excuse that  it is in my nature, therefore, I cannot change it  because we all have choices and free will. Sartre believes that we are  condemned to be free  because it is not our choice to be born, but upon achievement of consciousness, we are made to decide for the rest of our lives. Everything we do is a choice, and we are in no position to say that we are forced or influenced by others. Even if what we have done is wrong, we can never say that we got trapped or stuck in a bad situation without any means of resolution aside from what we did. This further emphasizes the fact that human beings are alone in this world. There is no God to guide them or save them and give them miracles. Human beings are simply existing and that is a clear fact that Sartre believes to be absolute.

III. What are the implications of this for human responsibility, i.e., why does Sartre insist that we choose for all human beings when we choose for ourselves
Enumerating all these, Sartre believes that our human responsibility towards our actions is what causes our anguish and misery. Sartre defines the anguish of human as a result of his or her responsibility to humankind. When one makes a decision that involves other people s welfare, one feels anguish. One suffers the consequences that his or her decision has made which resulted in the harm of other people.
We are aware . . . that the pressures and demands that the world presents to us are the result of the ways in which we see and engage with things, and that this in turn is the result of our changeable characters rather than any fixed natures. But explicitly thinking about this induces in us a feeling of anguish    

It becomes a suffering because despite the influence of someone from a higher position, one would realize that he or she is alone in making the decision and has no one to blame but himself or herself. Therefore, it becomes his or her sole responsibility. We design our own lives by choosing our path and deciding on it we believe it to be the most ideal way to live. Simply put, we deem our lives as a model for other people. We construct our image in our own choosing and not in the likeness of anyone else. By choosing ourselves, we make ourselves the model for everybody else which, in all terms, makes us responsible for humankind.
The very being of the For-itself which  is condemned to be free and must forever choose itself i.e., make itself.  To be free does not mean to obtain what one has wished but rather by oneself to determine oneself to wish (in the broad sense of choosing). In other words success is not important to freedom.
This existentialist claim holds the view that human beings are the highest form of creatures and that no God or any other greater being exists. Human beings are created without purpose and are solely responsible for their actions and decisions in life. They are free to do anything they intend to as they are all to blame for the consequences that may arise. Simply put, a human being is alone in this planet and everything depends on this person therefore, a person must hold himself or herself above all the other creatures. This way of thinking inevitably includes the concept of pride because a human being considers himself or herself to be above the others. The fact that an existentialist point of view does not have any regard for a god reveals that man himself or herself is god. Pride, therefore, is an essential constituent of existentialism.


Post a Comment