Jean-Paul Sartre, a French existentialist philosopher, was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy. In both of his major philosophical works, “Being and Nothingness” and his famous talk, “Existentialism is a Humanism”, he emphasized the statement “Man is Condemned to be Free”. Before I agree or disagree to the statement, let us first answer this question: what condemns man to be free?
According to Sartre, we are condemned to be free because we had no choice in the matter of being free. He further stressed that we are responsible for all our actions. Having no choice in whether we will be free to choose and then to be responsible for our future actions is surely ‘condemnation’. That’s why we cannot blame our parents, teachers, government or anyone for our situation.
For me, freedom is a matter of awareness and our perception of what freedom really is. It’s true that man is condemned to be free because he has no choice in the matter of being free. But, if man is not aware of such choice then he could possibly be free. If he perceives freedom as to live in a country that’s not invaded by foreigners, and is currently experiencing such, then he could be free. For example, a child believes freedom is when his parents leave him in a playroom. When this happens, the child experiences freedom since it is what he perceived to be freedom. Although, his parents believed that the child will not have freedom to go anywhere else since they have isolated him in the playroom. But, since the child is not aware of this concept of freedom of his parents, he still experiences freedom.
Overall, I can say that freedom varies among people. I don’t completely agree to Sartre’s statement because of some other factors. I can only tell you that “Man is not always condemned to be free”.