Existential Expression

Text: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

“Prior to that projection of self, nothing exists…and man shall attain existence only when he is what he projects himself to be-not what he would like to be” (Sartre, 23).

  • The main and only difference between existing and not is being who you project yourself to be. A book cannot be a book if it is just pages, nor can a heart be that if it is incapable of beating like one. Existence depends on action but the action must be to be. If one is powerless to be, then how can they know they truly exist?

“Will is a conscious decision that most of us undertake after we have made ourselves hat we are” (Sartre, 23).

  • In order for ust to have a will, we must first be. That means there is some significance behind being, and will is a direct result of it. One that is able to be are also able to will; if they cannot will then, they are not yet a mature being. Maybe there is a distinction between those who will and those who have yet to discover their will; but ultimately, if one is unable to utilize will then their existence is limited, for they have yet to make a conscious decision based on their being. Incomplete wills are just wishes.
  • Going back to “what’s”, if man’s obligation to himself is to be conscious of what he is” then that means he must be ready to ask why he must do so. He must understand the logic behind him choosing to become conscious of himself, he must acknowledge that lack of knowledge pertaining to an action does not create a skill, it only creates a reflex.

“Choosing himself he is choosing for all men”

  • When we choose to define ourselves we inevitably begin to create our own nature, this nature is our understanding of all men. For example, if I choose to be a man of justice, then I expect all men to share my ideals of justice, for my viewpoint of men is based on my definite self. If may be there reason that I believe that everybody is capable of doing something, meaning that I match up with my nature if I expect it to be applied to others (even if this is false, which it often proves to be). The main principle to take away from this is that I believe that my being has a relationship to all men, and more importantly that being is mine. In the end, I choose for all men, because I choose for myself.

Vocabulary:

  • Anguish – a man who commits himself, but then realizes that he is not the individual that he chooses to be. “What would happen if everyone did what I am doing? (Sartre, 25)”. You must ask yourself if your actions could represent the entire human race.
  •  Abandonment- God does not exist, this was a debated topic among the existentialist. Without the existence of God, then some aspect regarding existence will left to be forever unsolved, this ruling this notion improbable. The tools for consciousness and thought were not arbitrarily created, rather they were purposefully given to humans to utilize; so then who is capable of giving us such a gift, but God?
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