What Is Existentialism? Essay, Research Paper
From what I understand reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s work the Existentialism is philosophy that places emphasis on individual existence, subjectivism, and freedom of making choice.
According to Sartre, Existentialism is philosophy that states that “if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence.” It seems that Sartre’s theory rests on this thesis that ‘existence precedes essence’ and therefore it should be basis for any further discussion or understanding of this philosophy. To prove this Sartre uses example of man or human being, he says that man first exist, where he is nothing, and then afterwards he defines himself, where he himself will have made what he will be. So if I understand this correctly this means that you need to have existence in order to have essence, so there is no predetermined ‘true’ thing, it has to already exist in order to become what it is. Therefore man is fully in charge of creating himself as a person, and creating his own future.
Subjectivity is also important to Existentialism, and by subjectivity Sartre means that while choosing his own self, man also chooses all man. And he states this idea in this citation “to choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. We always choose the good, and nothing can be good for us without being good for all.” I’m not sure if I can agree with this, because knowing myself, sometimes I consciously make decisions that I know are not good for everyone. But what I think Sartre is trying to say is that those passionate choices and actions that every individual makes, are influencing choices and actions of others.
Third and last thing that makes up my definition of the Existentialism is freedom of choice. “The boy was faced with the choice of leaving for England joining the Free French forces-that is, leaving his mother behind-or remaining with his mother and helping her to carry on. He was fully aware that the woman lived only for him and that his going off-and perhaps his death-would plunge her into despair, whereas every effort he made toward going off and fighting was an uncertain move which might run aground and prove completely useless.” And then he asks, “Who could help him choose?” Here Sartre uses case of one of his students, as example to show us that every man is free to make choices of his own. But choices he makes make him responsible for things that will happen as result of those choices. So choosing one is choice not to choose other. Therefore choice is inescapable, not making choices is choosing to not choose