Existentialism Essay example

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In his 1946 essay Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre undertakes the task of defending existentialism against what he defines as “charges” (341) brought against it. Sartre begins to outline the “charges” brought against existentialism and further, existentialists. Following the medieval quaestio-form, Sartre begins with the statement of the objection, a short discussion, and then his reply to each. The first of the charges is that of quietism. “First, it has been charged with inviting people to remain in a kind of desperate quietism because, since no solutions are possible, we should have to consider action in this world as quite impossible” (341). Historically, quietism was a Christian philosophy that advocated withdrawal from worldly …show more content…
Before I begin to discuss the replies Sartre provides for each objection raised, it is important to establish what Sartre believes existentialism to be. That is, it is important to understand exactly what Sartre is defending. Sartre begins his definition by defining the two groups of existentialists: Christian existentialists and atheistic existentialists. Sartre aligns himself with the atheistic existentialists for the remainder of the essay. What the existentialist philosophers have in common, and where Sartre begins his definition, is the idea that existence precedes essence. The reader is provided the example of a paper cutter. A designer has a plan for a paper cutter in his/her mind and sets about creating it with the preconceived notion of its function. This preconceived notion is the essence of the object and thus for the object (a paper cutter) essence precedes existence. That is to say the paper cutters being is predetermined. It would follow that for essence to precede the existence in a person, there must be an individual to conceive of the beings essence and thus bring about its existence. However, Sartre declares that there is no God and

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