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.
- 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?
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
Text: Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre.
We start out in Sartre’s work (Existentialism is a Humanism), by defining what existentialism is not. During his era, it was a “fashionable trend” to call oneself or be classified as an existentialist. It seemed that artistic individuals were mainly subjected to this title, possibly because art has direct ties to philosophy. Art may be the physical form of the thought of man, however, existentialism seems to exist (ha!) in a realm reserved only for “specialist and philosophers”. It takes more than deep thought or profound conversation to be considered an existentialist. There is a common agreement between all existentialist that “existence precedes essence,” and according to Sartre, this is the first principle of the definition of existentialism. He utilizes the idea of the paper knife, a tool created a certain way and has a definite purpose. The craftsman does not create the knife without a formula or purpose, but man is not solely a tool. In order for one to be an existentialist, he must believe that he existed without definite knowledge of his purpose. Although man may be created, he is crafted from “nothing”, a concept rooted in Heidegger’s phenomenology. We cannot understand the nature of nothing, but we can assume that it is being devoid of anything. After being born from nothingness, without a universal nature-also known as human nature-man can begin to define himself. It is similar to the zygote and embryo, cells are unspecified at first, and only after time will they be differentiated and defined. To be an existentialist, you must believe that our being is a stem cell, that must be exposed and defined, rather than given a set definition.