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Unformatted text preview: PHI 310 Lecture 9: Summary of Some Main Points from Sartre’s Existentialism as a Humanism I. Absolute Individuality and Absolute Freedom. The Existentialist conceptions of freedom and value arise from their view of the individual. Since we are all ultimately alone, isolated islands of subjectivity in an objective world, we have absolute freedom over our internal nature, and the source of our value can only be internal. II. The Existentialist View of Human Nature. Existentialism is defined by the slogan Existence precedes Essence . This means: Sartre says that what all existentialists, both atheistic and Christian, share in common "... is that they think that existence precedes essence, or, if you prefer, that subjectivity must be the starting point." (EHE, p. 13) ESSENCE PRECEDES EXISTENCE (traditional view) vs. EXISTENCE PRECEDES ESSENCE (Existentialist view) Traditional view : treated human beings as artifacts, whose nature is tied to a preconceived essence and to a project outside of them, rather than as absolute individuals (ex. of paper-cutter). When we conceive of God as the Creator, He is generally thought of as a superior sort of artisan. ... Thus the concept of man in the mind of God is comparable to the concept of the paper-cutter in the mind of the manufacturer... . Thus, the individual man is the realization of a certain concept in the divine intelligence. (EHE, p. 14) On this view: • We get our nature from outside of us, from a being who created us with a preconceived idea of what we were to be and what we were to be good for. • Our happiness and our fulfillment consist in our living up to the external standards that God had in mind in creating us. • Both our nature and our value come from outside of us. The Existentialist View (defined by the slogan Existence precedes Essence ) . What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. ... Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence. Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. (EHE, p. 15) Thus, there is no human nature which provides us with an external source of determination and value. This means: 1. We have no predetermined nature or essence that controls what we are, what we do, or what is valuable for us....
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2010 for the course PHI 310 taught by Professor Bykova during the Spring '10 term at N.C. State.
- Spring '10