Existentialists are commonly seen as being distressed with human degradation. Something seen as ugly and negative or as related to naturalists. However existentialists are more than that. In fact, existentialism is the works of a musician or a poet. The clear definition of existentialism is not what is commonly seen as negativity or as naturalists. Sartre tells us ‘it can be defined easily. ’ Existentialism aims at emphasizing ‘the individual character they are philosophizing. ’ There are two different types of existentialists that are confused with each other.
The first of the two types is the existentialists who are Christian and the second is the atheistic existentialists. Atheistic existentialists make more sense because they are not Christians, nature, or God centered. Existentialism prefers hominocentric that is centered on humans not God. As the lecturer said, they are tired of people talking about metaphysics. Yet both share one similar thing in common, they both think that existence precedes essence. Essence is a particular object, it is all around us. Yet as humans, our existence precedes essence because we are not objects in the world.
The way we identify ourselves is different from the way other things are identified. The way we identify ourselves from objects and animals differently is the choices we make that defines us. Freedom is what enables us to make choices and is also what sets humans apart from ordinary things and animals. Humans are always constantly becoming who they are for their self definition is never complete. Sartre believes that ‘a man is nothing but what he makes himself. ’ That is the first principle of existentialism. The man must be aware of the state of being indefinable as the first step because he is nothing at first.
“‘I think, therefore I exist’ is the absolute truth of consciousness becoming aware of itself. ” Only then will that man become something, his actions sets his life. His choices are making himself a part of who he will be in his future. These choices can be overwhelming because these choices come with great responsibility. Here Sartre tells us that a ‘man has a human nature, the concept of the human, is found in all which means that each man is a particular example of a universal concept. ’ There is more to a man’s responsibility than to its own individual self for it also applies to all men.
There are those, called cowards and stinkers, who do not accept this responsibility by their decision because they are either hiding from it or just refuse to take it. When cowards make choices they raise excuses such as they were influence by others to choose this way. Cowards lets others choose for them and therefore cowards let others identify them the way the others want to. Sartre says that ‘cowardice is the act of renouncing or yielding. ’ Cowards are those with an uneasy conscience. However the stinkers do not want this responsibility. They make choices as for their own individual and not for all men.
Then there are those who choose responsibility for themselves and for everyone else known as authenticity. They are creating a certain image of man that seems fit to all men. Authenticity is the existentialist value. It does not let others define them but hold them responsible in choosing themselves and they choose men. Humans are condemned with freedom because we are left forlorn and abandon. Yet who is making us feeling this way? In this hominocentric belief, the death of God does, his purpose does not serve here. This is why we make choices freely with no principles to bind us.
Sartre says there is nothing written of the existence of God and we live in a world filled with men. Humans live in anxiety because there really is no guide to their choices. They live in anxiety because of the fear they are not being right. Men are abandoned and left in human condition. The uncertainty is the reason why life is dreadful. Since there is no God, there are universal responsibilities. The feeling of being alone with no God and no rules to help us with our universal responsibilities; we are constantly faced with some easy and hard situations in our everyday life. Every situation is different every time.
easy situations, you are choosing either the good choices or the bad choices, as human you normally will choose the good choices. On the other hand, hard choices are dealing with two good choices. Despite the difficult choices, there are no wrong choices you can easily cancel out and the bigger issue is there is no basis for choices. No one can tell you how to make your own decision except yourself. ‘Reality alone is what really counts, that dreams, expectations, and hopes warrant no more than to define a man as a disappointed dream, as miscarried hopes, as vain expectations. ’ This is where the value system is formed.
Your priorities help you isolate the choice that is not a higher value than the other choice. Yet when the priorities are not clear, anxiety rises and the pressure can sometimes be overbearing. When feelings interfere with decisions, it can turn into one big circle. You don’t know what you are doing unless you precisely feel it, on the other hand, you don’t know what you are precisely feeling unless you are doing it. Feelings will get in the way of our judgment of choosing. Existentialists place passion as an excuse and a man’s responsibility. Luckily, our moral character eases our decisions for we will rule out choices that seem unfit.
We always tend to choose the good as we are choosing the good for all. Sartre is an atheistic existentialist who does not believe in God. Sartre believes that if he was mistaken about the existence of God then life would still be the same as if there was no God. We still will face the great responsibility and be alone with our freedom. There would be no difference, we still have to make our choices alone. No matter if we are a coward, a stinker, or authentic, our future relies heavily on our actions that is forming it. At any moment we don’t realize which one can change our life. That is what makes life exciting.
Courtney from Study Moose
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