Sartre[1] - Arnold 1 Charles Arnold Professor Mills...

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Arnold 1 Charles Arnold Professor Mills Philosophy 1100 April 15, 2008 Facing Freedom Even as Jean-Paul Sartre judges the “cowards” and “scum” (43) of the human race for deceiving themselves about the truth of human reality, his existentialist philosophy allows them to recreate themselves when they face the fact that they have the freedom to choose themselves. Sartre presents and develops the existentialist idea that “man is wholly free” (187) in his essay, “Existentialism and Humanism,” and his book, Being and Nothingness . Through his writings, Sartre explains the tenets behind existentialist freedom and defends his ideas from those who criticize his philosophy. To understand existentialism one must be able to decipher Sartre’s definition of freedom. This freedom is not easy to bear, and Sartre alludes to the reasoning and heft of this ultimate human responsibility when he says that “we are left alone, without excuse. This is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free” (32). For an existential atheist like Sartre, this freedom is the reality of a human existence not guided by a God, the fates, or some inborn human nature beyond one’s control. Humans do not have a predetermined role decided by a higher force to which they must adhere, rather “man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself” (29). With no god or inborn human nature to guide our actions, we are abandoned of outside forces to live our lives as we freely choose. The ability to choose is the great freedom that embodies humankind. Choice embodies everything in human life. The only choice
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Arnold 2 people do not possess is the ability to make no choice. To decide not to do something is still a choice. The fact that we have no choice but to choose means that we are condemned to be “not free to cease being free” (184). But, out of what does this freedom of choice arise within humanity? Sartre says, “if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence” (28). Human beings have an existence before they are conscious of their essence: we are born with an existence, but we later define who we are based on the choices we make in life. Once a person’s consciousness awakens and chooses itself, that individual begins to define his or her essence. This is in contrast to natural objects such
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Sartre[1] - Arnold 1 Charles Arnold Professor Mills...

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