Freedom of Choice

Posted: July 11, 2013 in Dammion W.

After reading Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, I would have to say I strongly agree with his theory of “existence precedes essence” as well as with the consequences that 1) A person will be what he/she makes of themselves, and 2) We are responsible for what we are. Sartre says in order for us to even start to define (essence) ourselves, we first have to exist as a beings. If I’m not here physically (exist) then how can I possibly start to define self.

One reason I believe this theory to be true is because, when it comes to material things such as buildings, cell phones, computers, radios, etc. it is essence first and then existence. For example, before a book is published (born), it takes a thought first, inspiration, and planning (essence) which then leads to a book being made (existence). When it comes to myself, I’m not like an object. I exist first and I’m constantly defining myself. And I’m the only one doing the defining, no one has that right but me.

I also agree that existence precedes essence because I believe that I’m responsible for who I am because I make the decisions that affect me and I define who I am and what I do. Therefore, taking responsibility for what I allow myself to be should be in no one’s hands but mine. I have full control over any decision I make and if anything happens in response of me making that decision, it is my responsibility. I might can be influenced by someone, but it’s solely up to me to make that choice to do something or not. This is so because I exist, but I am responsible for defining who I will be.

  1. Dammion, this is a great piece on Sartre’s theory with great practical examples. Reading your piece made me wonder about the question of freedom. Sure I exist before an essence yet my existence is up against the fact im born into a family, community, a country that all look at me through a certain lens and define who I am. How iam suppose to weigh the challenge of being an individual up against the challenges of my individuality that my family, community and country expect of me?. Overall your piece is a stimulating read. Thanks for sharing.

    • scholars2013 says:

      I must say, I like your screen name as well. Vey creative! I wouold like to thank you as well for taking the time out of your day to view my essay on Existentialism. But like i told “Liam”(Being you guys have a similar question), Im going to do some more thinking on it and get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks.

  2. Liam says:

    Like foolosopher (great screen name, btw – I feel kind of boring for using “Liam” now!) above, I agree that this is a good and stimulating piece. But I would like to press home the point foolosopher makes. At least for some people, it looks like their essence might precede their existence. For instance, I am from the U.K. where (ridiculously) we still have a Royal Family. Well, soon the prince and his wife are due to have a child, and this child will one day be King or Queen. Doesn’t it seem like in this case their essence preceded their existence? Even before they were conceived there was an idea about what any child of this couple must be – this person is Born To Rule – just like how with a building there is an idea about what the building must achieve before it is built. Maybe the children of princes and princesses are unusual and an extreme case; but all of us are born into some community or another, all of us are born with some expectations about what we’ll do, even if they are not so rigid as my future Royal. Do you think there is a difference between these kind of expectations and the kind of expectations which precede a building or a book being made? I am not sure where I stand myself, but I think it is worth thinking about what, if anything, the difference is.

    • scholars2013 says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Jean Paul Sartre’s book Existentialism is a Humanism. You’ve raised some great points and also asked some good questions. In response, i must say that i havent looked at it the way you have mentioned. Let me think some more on it and ill get back to you. Soon!

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