The Good, The Bad And The Existentialist Essay, Research Paper
The Good, the Bad and the Existentialist
The beliefs of an existentialist say that the choices we make throughout our lives all dictate who we are. As viewed by well known existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, ?The inescapable condition of human life is the requirement of choosing something and accepting the responsibility for the consequences.? Existentialism aside, it is widely accepted that we, as humans, live our own lives and are free to make decisions for ourselves. Whether or not we will have to ?pay? the consequences for our actions is disputed within religions as well as various groups of people. Sartre once said that existentialists are the most dedicated optimists. Even though the beliefs of an existentialist are both contended and accepted by many, their beliefs don?t necessarily set them apart as the most optimistic.
Religion and philosophy have never been able to successfully combine their ideas to form one great truth. Religion believes to have teachings direct from the mouth of God and claim to have the truth. Separated by denominations yet untied within, they stand strong with the faith that their beliefs will enable them to live in heaven after this life. Philosophers, like religions, have their own beliefs that vary as well as share ideas with other philosophers. When the beliefs overlap, strong assertions come forth and ideas clash. ?In his early philosophic work, Being and Nothingness, Sartre conceived humans as beings who create their own world by rebelling against authority and by accepting personal responsibility for their actions, unaided by society, traditional morality, or religious faith? (http://www.connect.net/ron/sartre.html). What is so optimistic about that? To what end do you live if society, morality and religion do not play a part of your daily decisions? It might be argued that having decided to live for himself and not a ?greater good? he is more noble. Not being pushed by the fear or reward of a god, he lives for his own self-worth and gratification. All the while knowing and accepting the consequences.
Some religions believe that we are judged for our sins. They teach that as we live we are free to choose. What we choose determines what blessings we receive in life as well as the afterlife. Other religions have the teachings and beliefs that no matter what we do in life, as long as we accept Christ as our Savior, we are saved to live in heaven. Having this belief, they are then able to live how they wish with no consequences to prohibit them. Sartre said the opposite, ?there is no abstract nature that one is destined to fill. Instead, each of us simply is in the world; what we will be is then entirely up to us. Being human just means having the capacity to create one’s own essence in time . . . But my exercise of this capacity inevitably makes me totally responsible for the life I choose. Since I could always have chosen some other path in life, the one I follow is my own? (http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/7e.htm#free). Having accepted responsibility for his actions, he had the possibility of freedom from pain and suffering. By living his life in this way he knew that for every action there was a reaction. This enabled him to make decisions accordingly.
As seen from my viewpoint as a Latter-day Saint and partial understanding of Sartre?s ideas, there is much to be argued and much to be agreed upon. Sartre said that he chose his path in life and he claims responsibility. I feel this to be true as it is also taught within the church. We believe that we are free to choose the paths we take in life. Yet, not mentioned by Sartre, we also believe that there is one correct path that is true and will lead us to eternal life with Heavenly Father. This path is that of Jesus Christ. ?. . . no man cometh unto the Father, but by me? (John 3:17). Like Sartre, we too believe that our actions bring consequences. The only difference is that not only will we feel the effects of our decisions here on earth but the hereafter as well. Certainly Sartre was quite optimistic in his views. However, his blanketing statement of all existentialists being the most optimistic is not right. Sartre?s strong beliefs and teachings should be studied by many but not taken as truths. According to the church it is up to each individual to find the truth for himself.