Essence

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Jazzmine Mack, Uncategorized

As Sartre begins to talk about “existence precedes essence” it allows me to go deeper into thought about existence and essence, and what it actually means. The word existence is the fact or state of living or having objective reality. The word essence is the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character. Now that we have a better understanding of these words I can further explain the actual meaning of “Existence precedes essence”. The idea that existence precedes essence means that a human being, as well as human reality, exists prior to any concepts of who I am. A person is born a blank slate; there is no universal design common to all of mankind. Since no preformed essence or definition exists of what is means to “be human,” a person must form his/her own conception of essence by asserting control of and responsibility for his/her actions and choices. Consequently, a human being gains his/her essence through individual choices and actions. This is a theory which involves elements of responsibility and freedom in regards to human choice.

I agree with this because I had no control over me being brought into the world, which means no one has control over my destination. Sartre says, “Man is responsible for what he is”. I am responsible for the outcome of my life. There is no one over me to say what it is that I am and am not supposed to do such as a guideline or layout to life. It is much like the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” I chose if I drink.

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Comments
  1. Liam says:

    Thanks for your response, Jazzmine. This was a very clearly written piece; defining your terms in this precise way is always a good idea, and you also expressed your own view in an unambiguous manner. Good stuff! However, I have to say that I found your argument for your position quite hard to understand. You say that “I had no control over me being brought into the world, which means no one has control over my destination.” – but why is that true? Suppose I build my own car (which I am actually far too useless to do myself). Then while it is true that the car had no control over its being brought into the world, it is not true that no one has any control over its destination. I’m gonna drive that car wherever I please! Why is it not the same for humans? Why is the case for us that since we have no control over being brought into the world we therefore have no one who can control our destination?

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