Jean-Paul Sartres Notion Freedom and Simone de Beavoirs Notion of Freedom

Men have fought several battles and won several wars for the quest of freedom. They created constitutions, international treaties, and international organizations for the preservation of freedom. Yet if we ask them to define freedom, you will not see a single answer but a series of answer amongst different thinkers which makes us wonder if we really share the same idea on what freedom is.

Several forums and discussions were formulated for the clarification of this commonly abused word, freedom. The couple Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir is one of the many philosophers who tried to simplify the word freedom. Both philosophers share similarities related to freedom yet they still remain different in several perspectives. On my review, I believe that Sartres ontological analysis of freedom is more agreeable compared to that of Simone de Beauvoirs complex discussion of the ethical concept contained in the word freedom yet the way de Beauvoir organized Sartres idea of human essence and social responsibility makes her notion of freedom more adaptable to the present condition of society. Her view regarding freedom is more realistic to the common aims of different nations thus making it stronger in comparison to Sartre.

Sartre defines freedom as the synthesis of being. It is mans way of fashioning particular elements in society and nature so it will fit into his desire to live an authentic life. It is comparable to an artist who works on a canvass. The artist does not have full control of the canvass nor does he have control of the image he is looking at as a source of inspiration but in his hands rests the power to create a picture of beauty. It will be based on his will and analysis on what beauty is. He is the one who chooses the elements, the colors, the scenes, the objects that will go hand in hand so that the painting will be given life. He redesigns the elements of the outside world in accordance to his own view of beauty.

On the other hand, de Beauvoir defines freedom as the acceptance of complexity in the world. Freedom is the process of creating and revealing meaning in this world. It is up to the individual to find and discover the real meaning of life without the dictates of society. The individual can only find this meaning through constant interaction with other members of society. Freedom is only realized when we engage ourselves into the world. It is acceptance to the fact that we have to choose values in this world. We are the one who will decide what values to incorporate in our life. We are the one who create meaning and that is the purpose of freedom.

Sartre emphasized that essence precedes existence in support of his thesis that all possible actions are internal. Man has absolute freedom. We are not bound in any manner by any outside force. We alone are the one who feels and experiences things around us thus alone are capable to make the decisions. We are the one who experience anger and is the agent who can respond to this feeling. No other agent can act in behalf of what we are feeling. We decide what actions to take on particular situations. The outside world may try to influence our decisions but in the end we are still the one who will choose what decision to make.

There is a constant tension between the self and the projected self which we experience in our life. The demands of society with regards to the proper actions influence some of our actions but we have full authority to rebel against the outside world. In as much as they can try to dictate us, in the end we are the one who will make the decision and the decision which we will make will be final. We are ultimately the captain of our fate which makes the thesis essence precedes existence an undeniable fact.

In addition, freedom is a synthesis of the self. Man has the tendency to act in bad faith and identify his own self with how the world tries to mold him. Freedom is a battle against committing this mistake. Nothing determines our action except the self. At times, the environment ceases this freedom and forces us to say things like I dont have the capacity to perform such a task because I am a woman, I will not attempt to go to Harvard because I do not have an exceptional IQ, I change my mind easily because I am a girl. Responses like this are made by people who have not yet achieved freedom. They remain prey to bad faith and look only at the projected self. They fail to realize that the real self is the one capable of looking at the projected self and change it according to his will and not to submit to the desires of society. Every individual is unique. We do play particular roles in society but that should never dictate how we view our own self. Freedom does not restrict us to see our places in society but it allows us to modify it so we can create a more coherent and true picture of our self. Freedom in a sense challenges the boundaries created by society. Freedom allows us to transform any bad or ugly experience into a beautiful work of art. Society may supply us some raw materials namely, gender roles, filial roles, occupational roles, civic roles and other roles in society but we are the one who will choose the amount of role which we wish to squeeze in our personality. Freedom as a synthesis means making ourselves a new at each moment that is undetermined by society but fashioned by our own will.

On the contrary, de Beauvoir relates freedom to the society. In as much as Sartre focuses on the ontological value of freedom de Beauvoir manages to relate freedom with moral value. Freedom is the process of fulfilling life and is realized through interactions in the world. It is the realization of ones potential and the opportunity to practice these potentialities in the real world. It is the quest to open new possibilities as an act for others to become conscious of their life. It is not the mastery of nor the individual demand for recognition in society but it are enabling freedom to exist both for the self and the others in society. It is allowing others to have the right to become a master of his or her own self. This idea of freedom is different from the absolute or radical freedom which Sartre is suggesting. Her concept of freedom allows room for the formation of social institutions which will aid in the liberation of other individuals freedom. It is not freedom for the sake of individual happiness alone but freedom associated with the freedom of others. Man is not alone in this world and needs constant freedom of movement. Freedom of movement will be stopped if others will fail to realize their authentic life and resist from falling prey to bad faith.

Sarte focuses on freedom and the individual while de Beauvoir focuses on freedom and society. Freedom is ontological. You can only give what you already have. You cannot discuss something which you fail to understand. You cannot describe something which you havent seen or experience. Sartre in his essay made it very evident that he first and foremost went through the process of liberation and was successful. He became free from the dictates of secular life and society and found happiness after the experience. He is able to outline the process which needs to be done in order to achieve freedom because he is the first one who followed these procedures.

Sartre believes that we should remove bad faith in our lifestyle in order to achieve an authentic life. Nevertheless, how does one cure the blind How can you make others see that the life that they are living is not a real one which will only lead to their unhappiness How can someone fully devoid ourselves from the dictates of the outside world. For example, if you wish to become a pilot but your vision is not perfect then no aeronautical school will accept you. That is a limitation and a hindrance to your desire. It dictates what you can do and cannot do. It determines your future job. Can you still be free De Beauvoir managed to discuss freedom both in the ontological and sociological level. She presented it in the eyes of a philosopher and sociologist. At present, there are a lot of technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs which made the impossible possible. It is impossible before to have a child if you are not fertile, but in vitro fertilization presently allows it. Given the opportunity to practice ones talents and skills will open more avenues that will eliminate potential human limitations. Allow man to expound on these talents and you will be amazed on what we can achieve. To be free is becoming human and there are no limitations on what man can do.

Unfortunately, radical or absolute freedom is prone to abuse. Anything that is excessive produces bad result. If the full authority to make choices rests on the individual then he alone is responsible for his actions. If he decides to commit suicide he does anyone wrong because it is his body that he has committed a crime against. Somehow, reading his text implies approval of suicide. Are we still given the freedom to end our own life Apparently we do have the power to end it but do we have the right Having the power and the right to do something are two different things. You may have the power to get the cellular phone of your classmate yet you may not have the right to do so, especially if you failed to ask permission. Rights are given and it can be inherent to a person or provided to by society. I wonder who gave us the right to live. We simply entered the world and interacted with other individual in society. If we can only know who gave us the right to live in this world then we can answer if suicide is justifiable or not.

Freedom provides meaning and happiness to an individual. It is the act of knowing and realizing your real worth. It is living an authentic life devoid from the demands and dictates of society. It is becoming a responsible captain in your own right. It is the opportunity to fashion your own self in the best possible way you deem it necessary. Freedom is the rebirth of your real identity and doing what is best fit to help you reach satisfaction but it does not mean doing anything you wish. Freedom involves proper reasoning. Proper reasoning always takes into consideration the effect of ones action towards others in society. Your actions should not hinder others quest for happiness. Freedom in a way is a product of reasoning. Simone de Beauvoir managed to go beyond the box of human essence which Sartre masterfully discussed. She may have borrowed a few of Sartres concepts yet managed to synthesize his concepts to real life situations. In doing so, she managed to create a more realistic picture of freedom and society. Thus, I consider de Beauvoirs notion of freedom more profitable rather than that of Sartre.


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