Jean-Paul Sartre’s Philosophy: Radical Freedom and Responsibility

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“We are left alone, without excuse. This is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free” (Sartre 32). Radical freedom and responsibility is the central notion of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy. However, Sartre himself raises objections about his philosophy, but he overcomes these obvious objections. In this paper I will argue that man creates their own essence through their choices and that our values and choices are important because they allow man to be free and create their own existence. I will first do this by explaining Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote, then by thoroughly stating Sartre’s theory, and then by opposing objections raised against Sartre’s theory.
When Sartre says, “We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I
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He states that existence comes before essence, meaning that man must exist before there is any conception of it. “We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards” (Sartre 28). This thought conveys that a human starts with nothing and will become nothing unless he wills himself to become something. Over time humans will begin to define who and what they are by their actions and choices.
Sartre then divides things that exist into three kinds: human beings, artifacts, and naturally occurring objects. He declares that human existence precedes essence, that in artifacts essence precedes existence and that in the case of naturally occurring objects existence and essence coincide.
Sartre’s stance that human existence precedes essence directly ties into his notion of rational freedom and responsibility. Existence precedes essence means that there is no predetermined human essence and that there is no human nature fixed in advance of human existence. Furthermore, if I create my essence then I am wholly responsible for the person that I am. In other words, one could say that humans exist and subsequently make themselves who they are by their actions, choices, as well as creating an image of what men ought to be. “Man simple is” (Sartre 28). When we are born we have no essence, but through experiences