Existentialism Is a Humanism

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Sartre is trying to defend existentialism against some disapproval to it. The Communist criticized existentialism as an invitation to people to take interest in hopeless world affairs. On the other hand, Christians reproached from the fact that people deny the need of attention in human affairs. People have the will to do anything they want and wish. With the example given, about ignoring the Ten Commandments, we can people deny the value of following the commandments and will only follow it if they wish.

According to Sartre, existentialism is a principle that provides human life possible. It also determines that every truth and action we know involves both an environmental and a human subjectivity.

The two types of existentialist are the Christians and Existential Atheists. What they have in common is that they both believe in “existence comes before essence”, which means that a human has no predetermined essence or nature. “Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself.” If a man cannot define himself, then he is bound to happen that he is nothing.

The paper-knife example talks about how an artisan conceptualized an object, how he paid close attention to it and knew what the purpose of the object would be. The paper-knife is existentially different from human because for Existential Atheists, which Sartre is included, man defines himself and not the creator that conceived him.

An implication given in the lecture is how a being would be able to existence would come before its essence even if God does not exist. Sartre mentioned that there is no human nature because we define ourselves and not by any force that lives inside us. By Sartre saying that “in choosing for himself, he chooses for all men”, he means that when humans make decisions, it affirms that value of which he had chosen. The choices we consider are always the better, and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all. When a human chooses to do something for himself, like marrying and have children, he is still creating and contributing an image for the whole the whole mankind.

Existentialist frankly state that man is in anguish because he only decides for himself, not realizing that the whole mankind is resting upon his shoulders. When we are in verge of act, we should ask ourselves “What would happen if everyone did so?” In asking this, we would be able to fully re-evaluate the actions or decisions we’re about to do. In the story of Abraham and the hallucinating women, we are taught on how to ask ourselves with that question. It is not enough to do an act with merely hearing the command. We should prove to ourselves that what we are about to follow would be reasonable and just.

Sartre said that if God did not to exist, nothing would really change. He believed that we would still have the same progress that we have now. But for the existentialist, they would be embarrassed because it disappears with God the possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven.

For Dostoevksy, if God did not exist, everything will be permitted. He said that human would be free from doing anything they wish. One will be never to be able to explain one’s action because he doesn’t have anything to refer to. On the other hand, he proposes that if God does not exist there wouldn’t be values or commands that will legitimize our behavior. Existentialists believe in the power of passion. They believe that man is responsible for his passion, not some drive that is hidden inside a man.

The story of the student teaches us that we should trust our instinct. With his dilemma, whether to join the Forces or to stay with him mom, he based his decision on what he felt. Because he had been living with his mother, the value of feeling to be always by her side is developed. Thus, he chose not to live his mother. In addition, the Jesuit’s story tells us that...
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