Sartre View on Free Will

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Andrew Kang


Philosophy of Human Nature

Sartre proposes an interesting view on free will when he says, "either man is wholly determined or else man is wholly free." This quote shows us that Sartre believes that man is free to do what he wants. For Sartre, freedom is the most basic value, which renders possible all other values the way our fundamental plan precedes and grounds our small choices. In that sense freedom is the source of all values. It is not logically possible to make sense of human responsibility and notions of justice without a conception of free will. This is because it is free will that allows us as humans to choose and make the right decisions in life. According to Sartre man is responsible for what he is. “Thus, one of the first effects of existentialism is that it puts every man in possession of himself, and it places the responsibility for his existence on his shoulders. When Sartre says that man is responsible for himself, he doesn’t just mean that man is responsible only for himself, but that he is also responsible for all men.”(Sartre) Sartre uses the example of war to show our individual choices and decisions, stating that to be involved in a war means that you had the choice to do so otherwise. Which means that we have always have a choice no matter what. Sartre argues that we are not constrained by past choices and we are free to do as we wish. Although this doesn't necessarily mean that we can do whatever we want. “Making a moral decision is not predetermined, so its value lies within itself.” (Sartre) But, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible for us to make mistakes. A human being is capable of making bad decisions . “To choose between this or that is at the same time to affirm the value of that which is chosen; for we are unable ever to choose the worse. What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all.” (Sartre) On the other hand there are some...
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