Sartres Discussion on Freedom of Choice and Camus Concept of Absurdity

Freedom, Choice and Absurdity
It is stated that an individual has unlimited freedom and that man is able to do what he wants when he pleases to do so however, it must not be confused with the fact that every individual has limitations, because it is clear that everything and everyone has social and physical constraints. This, of course, is merely a factor to Sartre, freedom is a characteristic of the nature of consciousness, i.e. as spontaneity (Onof, 2010).

To Sartre, freedom is all about making choices, and it is stated that an individual can never avoid making choices. It is also stated that Sartre believes that proper exercise (Onof, 2010) of freedom can create value that only the individual who makes choices can experienceeveryone has different experiencesand this fact contributes to the notion that there is, indeed, a singularity in human life (Onof, 2010).

According to Sartre (2003), the life of an individual is like a project which develops as time progresses it is not a project that is clear or known to the individual, nevertheless, the choices which he or she makes throughout his or her life is vital in the development of such life. It is stated that specific choices are always vital components which are bound by time in the life of an individual.

Since choices are part of life, and cannot be removed, it is then, necessary to discuss the relation of freedom to choices. It is stated that freedom is a spontaneous choice and that it consists of creating choices which involve proper coordination of transcendence and facticity (Onof, 2010). This means that the individual must be able to achieve an understanding which is beyond what is, as well as an understanding of how circumstances can limit individuals when they are making choices. Being able to coordinate these two factors will enable an individual to create a choice that is spontaneous.

A choice which is not done so will eventually become a pitfall and produce undesired results when it comes to expressing ones desire for being (Onof, 2010). It is, of course, arguable, that the Self, being granted freedom, is likely to engage in deception, or that which is called bad faith (Sartre, 1993). If an individual recognizes the fact that his or her freedom is bound to his or her facticity, he or she will then be able to understand that he or she needs to create appropriate choices. If one is able to understand such, then it can be said that his or her choices are not trapped in bad faith (Onof, 2010).

Authenticity means that ones actions can affect other individuals, and if one realizes that, he or she is able to create good choices. Such assumptions that the existentialist attitude is all about prioritizing individual spontaneity (Onof, 2010) do not constitute proper choices. It is necessary to state that people who think that making choices is all about themselves defeat the purpose of their freedomthat which is to create the appropriate choices with a coordination of facticity and transcendence (Onof, 2010).

If one is to think that his or her choices all amount to self-fulfillment and will not affect other individuals, then it is most likely that he or she will make choices on bad faith. Sartre (2003) argues that expressing ones authenticity through however one pleases without aligning it with the proper coordination of facticity and transcendence will only create wrong choices and a misuse of freedom. Freedom, in a sense, is about being responsible whenever one makes choices, rather than merely fulfilling ones individual spontaneity.

It cannot be removed, therefore, that freedom is tied to ethical choices. If one is creating authentic choices, then it follows that he or she is creating ethical choices, for he or she has taken into consideration the fact that every individuals freedom is not merely about fulfilling his or her personal desires (Onof, 2010). In fact, it is stated that choosing is not merely about committing oneselfit is also about committing everyone else. In a sense, proper choices do not merely create value to the doer it also benefits those who are around him or her. Exercising ones freedom to create proper choices affects the rest of humanity in the sense that they will be able to place themselves in the situation of the individual who made the choice.

On the other hand, Albert Camus discussion regarding absurdity is seen in The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays it is about the Greek hero who has been condemned by the gods to continuously roll a rock to the top of the mountain (Camus, 1983, p. 119) only to watch it fall back down to the bottom because of its weight.  Camus states that Sisyphus predicament is absurd, for he is doing something that is futile and would eventually have to start all over again once the rock falls down to the bottom of the mountainit is stated that the gods had thought that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor (Camus, 1983, p. 119).

Sisyphus has been one of the most prudent and wisest amongst the mortals, and he had been smart enough to help other people and the gods as well. However, when he died, he has requested to be able to return to life in order to see his wife and chastise her for setting his body in the middle of the public square (Camus, 1983, p. 120). He, of course, upon seeing the light of the world once more, was lured into staying and he did not want to return to the dark abyss of the underworld. This decision of his, however, angered the gods, and he was seized by Mercury and taken to the underworld, where his punishment was waiting for him (Camus, 1983).

As seen in the aforementioned paragraph, Sisyphus was a man who worked hard to be able to enjoy the wonders of the earth, however, in the absurdity of it all, working hard to attain something does not necessarily mean that fulfillment will come afterwards. He has worked hard to be able to help his fellow beings and the gods however, he was still not able to avoid the ultimate end that all individuals are going to meet someday their deaths. To make matters worse, upon being snatched away from his happiness, he was then given the punishment of working hard with no fulfillment (Camus, 1983).

It is, then, necessary to state that life is absurd, for there is a price to be for all the passions that an individual has while he is alive. Sisyphus is cursed to forever toil, pushing a rock up a mountain, only for it to roll back and he has to go down and start rolling up once again (Camus, 1983). Is fulfillment achieved at all That is the question which Camus presentsand he argues that life is absurd, for it life and human endeavor is meaningless (Cholbi, 2008).

In a sense, it could be said that death was Sisyphus enemy. For if he was able to avoid death, then he would have been able to avoid its consequencethat which involves rolling the rock up the mountain. Camus essay shows that life is meaningless, for it ultimately leads individuals nowhere, except to their deaths.

In fact, Camus has even gone to lengths to discuss that since life is, indeed, absurd and meaningless, then it must be so that suicide is the only option. It is argued that suicide is a philosophical problem for it deals with answering the question on whether life is meaningless and has to be ended or if it has meaning and should be continued. In fact, the problem is paradoxical, for there are various reasons for living which may also become reasons for dying (Camus, 1983).

In such a way, Camus (1983) concludes that man is, indeed, absurd. He has also indicated that the absurd man should live in the sense that ethical rules are not applied, for everything is permitted to an individual whose life is meaningless. It is argued that the meaning of life can only be found if one is able to understand that it is, indeed, meaningless (Camus, 1983).

If one continues to hope for something other than what one has, then life continues to be meaningless. It is only when man is able to accept what already is, can he be able to find true happiness and meaning. In the end, it is stated that one must imagine Sisyphus happy (Camus, 1983), which states that Sisyphus is fully aware of the fact that he is forever to roll that rock up the mountain and watch it roll downand that he accepts this fact, which makes all the difference. In a sense, acceptance, it seems, can make an individual experience happiness, rather than constant hoping of things that will never be.

Contrast and Analysis of the Philosophies
The philosophies of Sartre and Camus seem to be of different concerns, however, if one conducts a more in-depth analysis, it can be seen that it both philosophers are trying to target the same point. That point is the concept of choice.

It is stated beforehand that man is able to make choices, and that such choices are of value because they can determine ones course of life. While Sartre makes it clear in his discussion that he is, indeed, talking about freedom and choice, Camus seems to employ a far more indirect means to drive his point.

It is seen in Sartres discussion that he explicitly discusses that ethical issues are only to be addressed properly if the individual is able to make choices in good faith. Choices done so are those with meaning. On the other hand, Camus discussed that life is pointless and absurdhowever, he implicitly indicate that meaning is something which may be acquired if one is able to make the appropriate choices.

Both Sartre and Camus have a similar endpoint, if it their philosophies are to be analyzed it is to create meaning. It is said that life can only produce meaning if an individual uses his or her freedom in making the right choices (Sartre, 1993)and it is also stated that meaning can be found if one is able to make the choice of acceptance (Camus, 1983).

In a way, these philosophers are saying that meaning is derived from making good choices. While Sartre and Camus have different means of portraying the thought and seem to be focusing on entirely different philosophies, their discussion shows the same concept regarding the meaning of Being (Onof, 2010) or existence.

It is seen that Sartre describes choices as fundamental to the essence of Being, for it is vital to consider that ones actions are not merely for individual spontaneity (Onof, 2010), but for ones actions are valuable to the universal dimension in the singularity of a human life (Onof, 2010). It can be said, therefore, that the freedom to create choices is not merely a freedom that one may abuse, but a freedom that must be used wisely.

It is necessary to create appropriate choices because choices affect an individuals facticity. Choices which are made without acknowledgement of the fact that one has responsibility to create the right choices may eventually backfire and lessen the chances of creating an expression for the desire of being (Onof, 2010).

On the other hand, Camus, while he did not directly imply, states that choices make all the difference in ones life. As seen in the aforementioned discussion, life is absurd and meaningless, for it despite an individuals perseverance and constant endeavors it will still eventually lead to death. His example is the myth of Sisyphus, forever cursed to push a rock up a mountain only for it to roll down once again (Camus, 1983).

In a sense, what Camus is that constant perseverance in life only leads to nothing therefore, life is meaningless. However, he states that it is all about making choices when it comes to how one will perceive ones predicament. It is like a battle between hope and hopelessness, and it seems that if one keeps hoping for something else rather than choosing to accept what is, then his or her life will, indeed, become meaningless. In a way, it could be argued that Camus is contradicting himself and saying that life in fact, is not really meaningless or absurdit is only as meaningless as one perceives it to be.

It is, of course, arguable, that Camus was mainly trying to drive his point home when he stated that life is meaningless and absurd, and that to end it must be the ultimate philosophical solution. It does not necessarily mean that life has to end simply because one perceives it to be meaningless. As seen in the last paragraph of The Myth of Sisyphus, one must imagine Sisyphus happy (Camus, 1983, p. 123) this means that happinessand meaningcan be acquired if one makes the choice of accepting what one has at the moment rather than continuously searching for other options. In a sense, discontent produces the meaninglessness and absurdity of life.

As seen in the aforementioned discussion, both Sartre and Camus have different philosophies which are expressed through different arguments. Both of these philosophers, however, were able to describe how freedom and choice are valuable in an individuals life and his or her search for the meaning of existence. Sartre states that right choices can affect ones facticity and Camus states that choosing to change ones perspective can affect ones perception of the value of lifeboth of these philosophers, in a sense, are saying only one thingthe choices an individual makes can determine whether he or she will eventually find that which everyone searches for in life meaning.


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