Lecture given in Source: Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. World Publishing Company in ; Translator:
August 15, by A.
Rowe 1 comment In his essay Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre defines what existentialism is by responding to what others have mistakenly accused this philosophy of being.
Sartre begins by identifying that the key starting point for existentialism is that human existence precedes human essence p. There is no a priori human nature formulated by God. There is no human identity because there is no God to create an identity for man p.
The starting point for man then is subjectivity, in that he defines his essence on his own terms and has the freedom to choose whatever he wants.
This knowledge that we are free from any objective morality places a great responsibility on man. The anguish that Sartre says comes from a knowledge of how free we actually are is most important because it forces us to make decisions for ourselves p. Sartre rejects that notion that it is possible not to choose because, in not choosing, you are making a choice.
He says that we cannot escape our freedom and cannot blame deterministic excuses, but must take responsibility for our actions p. This means that the emotions ascribed to a particular action are preceded by the action itself p. Therefore, it is the subjective interpretation of actions that gives them value.
We cannot decide a priori what is to be done just as a painter painting a picture does not follow any a priori aesthetic values upon which he should base his painting.
Sartre stresses that it is the circumstances we find ourselves in that force us to constantly make ourselves by choosing various courses of action. It is in this involvement that we are able to define ourselves p.
What makes a living human body the locus of human personhood? Sartre states that life is nothing before you come alive p.
It is in this self-realization then that the human body becomes the locus of human personhood and our subjectivity is the sole defining point of human nature.
This subjectivism makes it impossible for man to transcend human subjectivity p. To what degree does the author assume that human nature not merely human character is humanly constructed and alterable?
Our personhood is based on our self-awareness and on our awareness that there is no a priori human nature making whatever nature we define ourselves with humanly constructed. Since we cannot transcend human subjectivity we cannot escape the fact that our choices are what make us who we are.
In making these choices, we continually define human nature for ourselves and for others since through our free choosing, we are fulfilling our potential.
We are not determined by any psychological or spiritual forces and this fact should keep us in a state of anxiety over whether we are making good choices for ourselves or not.
Since there is no God, according to Sartre, we are in danger of losing any moral compass and this should constantly keep us aware that how our nature is constructed depends on our personal choices. What kind of freedom is possible for humans?
Since it is up to us to construct our nature, we are then free from any overarching moral framework that could judge our nature as being good or bad.
Before we realize that we exist, nothing exists. Because there is no God and therefore no predisposed human nature, we have the freedom to create our own identity. With this freedom comes great responsibility, and there can be no excuses for the person that we become.
Any appeal to an ethical standard is of our own doing and our interpretation of an action as good or bad is not determined by an objective moral standard but by our subjectivism. This freedom is worrisome, since we cannot fall back on anything other than ourselves to justify our actions to other people.
Since we exist in community with other people, we have to be able to claim that our actions would be justified if everyone were to act the same way.
For Sartre, our anguish comes from the knowledge that we have the responsibility to choose our nature that comes from being free of any objective morality.
According to Heschel, we are accountable to an objective truth and are on a journey towards transcendence and a full realization of this truth. The conflict arises in ourselves as we come to terms with our own being and that we are more than our biology and that there is more to our existence than what we make of it.
Self-reflection and evaluation is a difficult task that creates in us feelings of anguish but not because we are alone, but because our existence is of such importance to God, that to explore who we are is the most important exploration we can embark upon.Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (Book Analysis): Detailed Summary, Analysis and Reading Guide [Bright Summaries] on ashio-midori.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
In this clear and detailed reading guide, we've done all the hard work for you! Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre is a philosophical essay /5(2).
If the text of Existentialism is a humanism is far from being as specific as the thought of Sartre, it at least has the merit of making his ideas more accessible.
It gives an overview of its main concepts (awareness, others, freedom, responsibility, ) and thus remain to be read, again and again. Critical Essays Sartrean Existentialism: Specific Principles Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List This is a summary useful for understanding several of Sartre's works, and it is representative of his major ideas.
Jean-Paul Sartre Existentialism Is a Humanism. Written: Lecture given in that is why I have entitled this brief exposition “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Many may be surprised at the mention of humanism in this connection, but we shall try to see in what sense we understand it.
In any case, we can begin by saying that. In his essay Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre defines what existentialism is by responding to what others have mistakenly accused this philosophy of being.
Sartre begins by identifying that the key starting point for existentialism is that human existence precedes human essence (p. ). Existentialism is a Humanism Summary and Study Guide SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature.
This page guide for “Existentialism is a Humanism” by Jean-Paul Sartre includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis, as well as several more in.