Existentialism Is a Humanism

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 November 2016

Existentialism Is a Humanism

Sartre is trying to defend existentialism against some disapproval to it. The Communist criticized existentialism as an invitation to people to take interest in hopeless world affairs. On the other hand, Christians reproached from the fact that people deny the need of attention in human affairs. People have the will to do anything they want and wish. With the example given, about ignoring the Ten Commandments, we can people deny the value of following the commandments and will only follow it if they wish. THE MEANING OF EXISTENTIALISM.

According to Sartre, existentialism is a principle that provides human life possible. It also determines that every truth and action we know involves both an environmental and a human subjectivity. The two types of existentialist are the Christians and Existential Atheists. What they have in common is that they both believe in “existence comes before essence”, which means that a human has no predetermined essence or nature. “Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. ” If a man cannot define himself, then he is bound to happen that he is nothing.

The paper-knife example talks about how an artisan conceptualized an object, how he paid close attention to it and knew what the purpose of the object would be. The paper-knife is existentially different from human because for Existential Atheists, which Sartre is included, man defines himself and not the creator that conceived him. RESPONSIBILITY An implication given in the lecture is how a being would be able to existence would come before its essence even if God does not exist. Sartre mentioned that there is no human nature because we define ourselves and not by any force that lives inside us.

By Sartre saying that “in choosing for himself, he chooses for all men”, he means that when humans make decisions, it affirms that value of which he had chosen. The choices we consider are always the better, and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all. When a human chooses to do something for himself, like marrying and have children, he is still creating and contributing an image for the whole the whole mankind. ANGUISH Existentialist frankly state that man is in anguish because he only decides for himself, not realizing that the whole mankind is resting upon his shoulders.

When we are in verge of act, we should ask ourselves “What would happen if everyone did so? ” In asking this, we would be able to fully re-evaluate the actions or decisions we’re about to do. In the story of Abraham and the hallucinating women, we are taught on how to ask ourselves with that question. It is not enough to do an act with merely hearing the command. We should prove to ourselves that what we are about to follow would be reasonable and just. ABANDONMENT Sartre said that if God did not to exist, nothing would really change. He believed that we would still have the same progress that we have now.

But for the existentialist, they would be embarrassed because it disappears with God the possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. For Dostoevksy, if God did not exist, everything will be permitted. He said that human would be free from doing anything they wish. One will be never to be able to explain one’s action because he doesn’t have anything to refer to. On the other hand, he proposes that if God does not exist there wouldn’t be values or commands that will legitimize our behavior. Existentialists believe in the power of passion.

They believe that man is responsible for his passion, not some drive that is hidden inside a man. The story of the student teaches us that we should trust our instinct. With his dilemma, whether to join the Forces or to stay with him mom, he based his decision on what he felt. Because he had been living with his mother, the value of feeling to be always by her side is developed. Thus, he chose not to live his mother. In addition, the Jesuit’s story tells us that through our decisions and action, we are bound to choose our own path and bear the entire responsibility.

DESPAIR According to Sartre, the definition of despair is that “we limit ourselves to a reliance upon which is within our will, or within the sum of the probabilities which render our action feasible. ” I think the reason why Sartre thought that when Descartes said, “Conquer yourself rather than the world,” what he meant was “we should act without hope” is because both statements are saying that we should be in control of ourselves. The Marxists believe that you can rely upon the help of others.

That even when you die, other will still continue what you did and help. While Sartre’s argument is that he cannot fully trust those people he doesn’t know. Yes, he can entrust his works and life with his comrades and family, but not to strangers. Does that mean that I should abandon myself to quietism? NO. What we should do is to commit ourselves then act the commitment made. Sartre stated that man is nothing else than what he proposes. Because he hasn’t found anything yet he seeks, he continues to living until the day he found it.

“You are nothing else but what you live”, this means that “a man is no other than a series of undertaking, that he is the sum, the organization, the set of relations that constitute these undertaking. ” Behaviors of the people are caused by the actions happening in their environment upon them. The implication given was how a coward became a coward, and a hero became a hero. Being a coward is the act of giving up. How sternness of optimism here is seen on how a man can make himself a coward or hero, through his action and thinking.

In the end, what counts is that “the destiny of man is placed within himself. ” There wouldn’t be any hope or changes unless he starts doing something. SUBJECTIVITY What Sartre and Descartes both agree on is that truth must first have an absolute truth. If not, it will crumble into nothing. Sartre thinks that the theory alone is incompatible with the dignity of man because “it is the only one which does not make man into an object. ” Their main aim of that view is to distinguish the human kingdom as pattern of values to that of the material world. THE OTHER

Sartre believes that when we are trying to think to discover ourselves, we are to discover everything from others. To recognize oneself is to be recognize by other people. With “I cannot obtain any truth whatsoever about myself, except through the mediation of another”, Sartre is saying that we need other to seek the truth that we are trying to find. That being an individual is not enough to find the truth and identity. INTER-SUBJECTIVITY We should understand that “all the limitations which a priori define man’s fundamental situation in the universe.

” The historical situation of every man is different from what they experienced. Human condition is saying that from having freedom, we are also entitled to take full responsibility of it. I think it is possible to understand and value something about all people because there is still universality, which mean that in somehow we can still understand things outside ourselves. BAD FAITH One of the implications are “every man realizes himself in realizing a type of humanity”, meaning that if a man decides to classify himself, he would be able to realizes himself.

There is no difference between free being and absolute being. Lying to yourself by saying that it doesn’t matter to you is a bad faith. It is wrong to say that what you choose doesn’t matter to you. People can always choose, but in not choosing is still a choice. “…without reference to any pre-established value, but it is unjust to tax him with caprice. ” I do agree what he is trying to say here. Because he has no knowledge of a pre-established value, there is no sudden change in his choice. When Sartre that we make ourselves, what he meant is that through our actions and decisions we are forming our identity.

FREEDOM In saying “You are unable to judge others”, it is true in one sense and false in the other. Whenever a man chooses his decisions and purpose, it is now impossible to choose another one. It is true in the sense that we do not believe in progress. The goal of freedom is to judge the logical value and not a judgment of value. They also search for the real meaning of freedom. How can the existentialists form judgment? By saying that he deceives himself and by doing that you are having good faith. “One can choose anything, but only if it is upon the plane of free commitment.

” With this, we can conclude that selecting choices involving the commitment of oneself. INVENTION OF VALUES His response is an analogy, “if I have excluded God the Father, there must be somebody to invent values. ” He disagrees on the kind of humanism that takes man as an end. He says so because man is still to be determined and should be considered as an end. What he meant by “Transcendence” is a man’s relation to his world and that of the people around him. Because man wants to surpass what he has done, he is in the center of his transcendence.

A man can realize himself as truly human when he decides for himself, always seek truth and beyond himself and having an aim of some particular realization. CONCLUSION From his point of view, even if God did not exist, it would make no difference. Because for existentialists the real problem is how man will be able to find himself to in order to save himself, by not giving full reliance of God’s existence. Existentialism is a doctrine of action in a way that they confine their own despair with existentialists that Christians can describe them as without hope.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 7 November 2016

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