Sartre's Existentialism. How Should An Existentialist Live According To Sartre? To What Extent Do You Agree?

910 words - 4 pages

Sartre's existentialism is a humanistic philosophy that attempts to explain man's freedom and how he should live with the knowledge that this freedom exists. It is based upon the idea that "existence precedes essence", Sartre explains this by saying "it means, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and only afterwards, defines himself." In the text "Free will, self construction and Anguish", Sartre defends a number of claims bought against existentialism, and it is in this text that we are able to acknowledge inconsistencies and flaws in his argument. In this essay I will explain Sartre's position on how a person ought to live according to existentialism and the problems associated with these ideas. I will conclude with a brief summary explaining the limited extent in which existentialism is concise.Sartre makes a number of claims to support his idea that "existence precedes essence" and as a result of this, man is "condemned to be free." It is fundamental for an atheist existentialist to adopt the idea that God does not exist to reach these conclusions Sartre has put before us. He gives little explanation for his idea that God is not in existence other than simply saying "...there is no God..." Once this has been established, Sartre goes on to highlight the problems this creates."There is no human nature since there is no God to conceive it... man is what he conceives himself to be..." Sartre appears to be assuming that it is thought that God defines human nature and the way we should act. He exposes human nature to subjectivity, by claiming that "man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." He points out that man must make choices, and thus it is the man himself who creates himself. It is from this realization that we are lead to the conclusion that in the case of man, "existence precedes essence", that is, our essence can only be defined as a by-product of our existence.The claim Christians have bought against Existentialism is that it "put(s) the emphasis on the dark side of human life", Sartre defends his position by questioning if this claim was in fact inspired by a fear of "the possibility of choice." This "possibility of choice" comes about with the disregard of God(s) and consequently, human nature. Sartre quotes Dostoyevsky with "If God didn't exist, everything would be possible," describing this idea as the "very starting point of existentialism." It is here that we are able to appreciate that "man is condemned to be free, condemned because he didn't create himself, yet in other respects is free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for...

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