Discussion Post #9: Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism part 2

Please comment the two the other’s post seperately like (100 words for number 1 and 100 word for number 2)

1.A passage from Existentialism is a Humanism that helps me further understand the concept of existentialism is Sartre’s example of the paper knife (pg. 21). In this section, he is illustrating the idea of production preceding essence for this manufactured object. The knife’s essence is created before its existence because it is formed with a specific purpose in mind by the creator. Sartre likens this manufactured object to man’s existence with a predestined human nature by a creator. He uses this example to make his case for what he calls the first principle of existentialism: “man is nothing other than what he makes of himself.”(pg 22) His atheistic existentialism is founded on the belief that existence precedes essence. Humanity, through their choices based on their freedom of will defines and finds their essence on on their own. He does not believe that we are like the paper knife, or ant other manufactured object that is created with a specific purpose or human nature. That human nature and purpose must be found by the individual through the decisions they choose to make based on will. That is why Sartre makes the case for existence preceding essence. The essence is not predestined, but found over time and experience. Sartre’s paper knife example helped me to understand his views on the importance of humanity not being or acting as a manufactured object, but how humanity is defined as how an individual wills themselves to be.

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2. In the first principle of existentialism Satre asserts that man is nothing other than what he makes of himself (22). It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions. It follows that unlike metaphysics, existence precedes essence by saying man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterward, defines himself. Sartre delved further into the definition of subjectivism pertaining to existentialism and defined it as a man’s inability to transcend human subjectivity. Using personal examples, Sartre explains if I decide to marry and have children…solely from my own circumstances, my passion, only desire – I am nonetheless committing not only myself but all of humanity, to the practice of monogamy. It is helpful to understand that Sartre thus maintained whatever a choice people make ultimately comes down to humanity as a whole. Since people have freedom of choice and have trouble narrowing down the best one among various choices, Sartre stated that ‘‘it is feelings that matter; I should choose what truly compels me to follow a certain path’’(32). This leads to existential anxiety that refers to feelings of unease about meaning, choice, and freedom in life. It is inevitable that people feel misgivings about each choice they made, however, the only way to know whether a choice is right or wrong is after they take action as existentialists said. I could feel empathetic towards Sartre saying, following passion and creating for our lives that gives a sense of meaning above all.

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