Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre
“How can we measure the strength of a feeling?” (Sartre, 33). We begin with a comparison of the values of man versus his instincts, specifically feelings. What are feelings and should man trust them? According to Webster’s, feelings are “an emotional state or reaction” and “a belief, especially vague or irrational”. Based on this definition, we can conclude that feelings are not natural aspects of man; somewhere along the social evolutionary timeline, feelings were given a greater role in our lives, but should they have been? They are also described as reactions and states-both which are varying-yet not described as laws or principles. Feelings do not contain the permanence required to assist man, then what exactly does a feeling do for us? It lays down the blueprint for us to perform an action that has stemmed from a thought. Sips chilled henny Now the dilemma that Sartre warns us of is the cyclic nature. “Performing an action that confirms and defines it [feeling]. However…I am depending on this affection to justify my action.” (Sarte x). We often act on feelings, but we also act because of them. These mental constructs, lined with immature passion, both govern and destroy our basic existences; they are a tangent to the fated life. Yet, it is the inclusion of feelings that ultimately aid the modern man in the discovery of self. Want is nothing but a feeling, and even though the desire may change the origin of that feeling is still the same. And want is a way for us to utilize our brains to form conclusions based on our experiences. “Feelings are developed through action” (Sartre x). Imagine when a young boy meets a woman for the first time. By performing a series of actions, his soul forms a preemptive conclusion about this woman (love). Now, after enough actions have been completed, he will be compelled to perform more actions. Over time he may believe that it was this feeling that begun his actions, but in reality, it was the the initial acts of recognition, pursuit, or whatever else that spawned this motion. “I shouldn’t seek within myself some authentic state that will compel me to act,” Sartre is justifying his earlier claims regarding feelings. Acting upon a feeling will only end in us becoming caught in a cycle, we must act then deal with the consequential feeling that follows after, and how we internalize this type of feeling, will determine the type of being we are. This personal understanding of a feeling is what leads a man through his life, and we alone, are charged with the dismantling of this process. However we choose to interpret a feeling, will ultimately aid us in the dissection of the next feeling. It is how we deal with life’s obstacles that determine our existence. In short, it is imperative that a man tackles his feelings, and turns them into truths before they overload his mental.
“Conquer yourself rather than the world.” – Rene Descartes