Choices

2년 전

The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre argues that we are all condemned to be free. According to his lecture Existentialism is a Humanism, Sartre suggests his own interpretation of what it means to be free. The freedom that engulfs each of our lives exists with a burden. What does Sartre mean when he says that we are condemned? The philosopher explains “We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free”[1]. Sartre’s bold explanation leaves the reader in a place of insecurity. If one is condemned to be free, then one takes full responsibility for his or her own actions. The responsibility of freedom leaves us alone without an excuse for the choices we make. Therefore, the choices we make in life are up to us and we are responsible for the outcomes they entail.
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Responsibility plays a big role in Sartre’s argument concerning freedom. It suggests a mindfulness in the decisions we make exclusive to the individual and their surroundings. The burden of freedom is taken as an extreme optimist point of view in the essay. The chooser has limited power over the potential to choose. Sartre explains the limitation of choice by saying “man shall attain existence only when he is what he projects himself to be – not what he would like to be”[2]. In other words, a short male born with epilepsy cannot choose to be a UFC fighter. The epileptic man is responsible for making the right choice that suits him and those around him. We are all responsible for the lives we create for ourselves and the influence we create for others. If we want to be a philosophy professor, then we can make the correct life choices to achieve that goal. In addition to the effect on those around us, if one were to become a philosophy professor then they have decided to educate others in an ethical way (for most). The condemnation is felt differently for everyone as Sartre explains “Our responsibility is thus much greater than we might have supposed, because it concerns all mankind”[3] Sartre implies that responsibility effects not only yourself but others as well. If you make a choice that exemplifies something negative others may follow your lead. Thus, our choices that we make have a burdensome responsibility that affects not only the individual making the choice, but others as well. Existentialism is a humanism.

[1] Sartre, Jean-Paul, Carol Macomber, Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism is a humanism: including, A commentary on the stranger. New Haven: Yale U Press, 2007. Print. pg. 29

[2] Ibid. pg. 23

[3] Ibid. pg. 24

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