February 15, 2010
GTF: Emma Jones
Free Will vs. Determinism
The argument of whether we humans are pre determined to turn out how we are and act the way we do or if we are our own decision makers and have the freedom to choose our paths in life is a long-standing controversy. The ideas of Sartre, Freud, and Darwin are each strong in their own manner, yet Sartre presents the best and most realistic argument as to how we choose our path; we are in control of the things we do and responsible for the decisions we make. Not only this, but also, our decisions have an effect on our peer’s choices, just as theirs affect ours. In this paper, I will argue that Jean-Paul Sartre makes the best argument of the three philosophers in saying we can choose our own path and direction in life because as humans we are consciously aware of what is going on around us and base our decisions on that.
During the mid 1900s, when Jean-Paul Sartre began publishing his ideas, his reasons for free will and disbelief in determined human nature began to show up. He is an atheist existentialist; therefore, he believes that philosophy is directly related to individual’s emotions, responsibilities, actions, thought, and “if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence” (Sartre 187). This means simply that man first exists, discovers himself, and then goes on to define who he is. With this, Sartre believes strongly that individuals have an innate freedom to choose the meaning of their lives based on the decisions they make. He talks in his exposition titled Existentialism and Humanism, about how man begins with nothing and no purpose. He proceeds to say, “He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it” (188). His quote is explaining that when we are born, we are not who we are going to be in our lives. Who we grow...