Sartre View on Free Will

Categories: Free WillPhilosophy

Sartre proposes an interesting view on free will when he says, “either man is wholly determined or else man is wholly free. ” This quote shows us that Sartre believes that man is free to do what he wants. For Sartre, freedom is the most basic value, which renders possible all other values the way our fundamental plan precedes and grounds our small choices. In that sense freedom is the source of all values. It is not logically possible to make sense of human responsibility and notions of justice without a conception of free will.

This is because it is free will that allows us as humans to choose and make the right decisions in life.

According to Sartre man is responsible for what he is. “Thus, one of the first effects of existentialism is that it puts every man in possession of himself, and it places the responsibility for his existence on his shoulders. When Sartre says that man is responsible for himself, he doesn’t just mean that man is responsible only for himself, but that he is also responsible for all men.

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”(Sartre) Sartre uses the example of war to show our individual choices and decisions, stating that to be involved in a war means that you had the choice to do so otherwise. Which means that we have always have a choice no matter what.

Sartre argues that we are not constrained by past choices and we are free to do as we wish. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that we can do whatever we want.

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“Making a moral decision is not predetermined, so its value lies within itself. ” (Sartre) But, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible for us to make mistakes. A human being is capable of making bad decisions . “To choose between this or that is at the same time to affirm the value of that which is chosen; for we are unable ever to choose the worse. What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all.” (Sartre)

On the other hand there are some humans who choose to deny their free will and self-responsibility as a human. This concept is called bad faith, it is a philosophical concept to describe someone who denies his or her own free will. “Sartre believes mankind cannot escape responsibility by adopting an external moral system, as this in itself is a choice that we approve, implicitly or explicitly. He argues that, one cannot escape responsibility, as an attempt to separate one’s self from their freedom of choice. ”(Onof) “With freedom comes much more responsibility.

Sartre feels that in bad faith however, the being is fleeing from more than just freedom, it’s fleeing from several aspects of its life, basically any type of lying. “(Solaman) “This inner anguish over moral uncertainty shows a personal feeling of responsibility over the choices one makes throughout their life’s. ” (Onof) Where I stand on this topic is that all human beings are very individualistic. We have the ability to choose and act based upon our free will. We may choose to do something that isn’t always responsible or for the benefit of others ,but those are some of choices we choose to make.

We are incapable of choosing the worst thing possible for ourselves. We act upon what we feel is best for us at the moment or in the future, even though we aren’t always right. Although we are raised in a society were there are morals, norms, and rules we tend to ignore them at times and do things that are irresponsible and immoral. As humans we perform these irresponsible or immoral acts even though we know the consequences that come with our actions. No one is going to deny us of our free will. Although we can be denied our free will if we do something terrible such as kill someone.

It is up to each and every individual person to be responsible and make moral decisions. As for people who deny their free will, it seems to me that they may use an external moral system as a way to moralize otherwise immoral acts. We should not practice bad faith by denying our free will. Its understandable that taking on the responsibility of ones own actions can be a lot to handle. What Sartre does is he points out the freedom we all have and shows us the social roles and moral systems we can all adopt to protect us from being accountable for our actions.

It is not logically possible to make sense of human responsibility without the conception of free will. It is our free will that allows us to make moral and responsible choices. We always have a choice in doing something, but that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. We carry the weight of responsibility for our actions and decisions on our shoulders. Any human being can choose to use their free will in a bad way, but it comes with consequences. Any human being that wishes to deny their free will by choosing to behave in authentically cannot escape their freedom even in overwhelming circumstances.

Cite this page

Sartre View on Free Will. (2016, Nov 10). Retrieved from

Sartre View on Free Will

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