Satre: Condemned to Be Free

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Is man condemned to be free? According to Satre, man is not free to be free; he is condemned to be free. By this he meant that people are put on Earth without their consent and from then on they are completely responsible for their actions. According to Satre, God is, essentially, dead and none of his prophecies, commandments or morals limit our actions. Satre served for the French army during the Second World War and witnesses the atrocities of the holocaust firsthand. This experience, along with his bourgeois upbringing, taught him that God is "silent in the face of absurdity and horror. Because of this we are condemned to face life alone and with this comes "absolute freedom and the chilling responsibility that comes with it." A person cannot make excuses for their actions because there is no one to answer to; they are ultimately completely responsible for their actions.

Satre gives an example of being condemned to be free that comes from one of his students. His student is a young boy in France during WWII who's father has joined the Nazi regime and whose only brother has died fighting the Germans. He is all that his mother has left. Does he go to Britain to avenge his brother's death or stay with his ailing mother whose very emotional survival rests in his hands? Satre says that no one can make this decision for him, no set of values can lead him to a "correct answer" because morals are too vague and broad to make a concrete decision. Satre also says that in turning to people for advice, you are making the decision for yourself because you know what advice they are going to give, making it only a formality.
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