Philosophical Sartre

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  • Sartre
    • Who was Jean Paul Sartre?
      • Sartre (1905-1908) was a French philosopher, writer and political activist. He is known for his contribution to existentialist philosophy in Being and Nothingness (1943)
    • Man is not free not to be free
      • As an existentialist, Sartre argued that humans make themselves.
        • There is no God or objective dogma to guide us.
        • Ethics and religion try to make rational sense of a senseless universe.
        • The absurd universe is characterised by suffering and death
        • The agent alone is responsible for their decisions and actions
      • Sartre said that existence precedes essence. Our identity is not fixed before we exist. We are born tabula rasa. This contradicts the Bible's claim that our soul pre-exists earthly life.
        • "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you". Jeremiah 1:5.
      • We  make ourselves from moment to moment, through free decision-making and action, evidenced by our self-conscious experience of deliberation before we act. There is no reason to assume that one decision is better than another.
        • There is a distance between the human mind and the external world (the gap). Cause and effect does not operate on our minds as it does on the world. We cannot override our physical restrictions, but being human involves freely forming our own ideals, and taking responsibility for them.
          • We make decisions and then act to bring about    consequences
          • We see consequences, then set our own ideals we invent.
          • We make further choices according to the ideals we invent.
          • We are constantly aware we choose differently.
          • ``we thus make ourselves
          • This responsibility is a burden
          • We have no choice but to choose.
      • Keywords
        • Liberty of spontaneity- the ability to act as we choose with constraint.
        • Liberty of indifference- a being is uncaused in their actions, but still somehow responsible.
        • Tabula rasa- blank slate
        • The gap- the distance between the operation of our minds and the physical world.
        • Bad faith- the adoption of false values
    • Waiter illustration
      • Claiming that our actions are caused by external influences, we deny our freedom and act in bad faith. Means we give in social forces and adopt external values. We do this when the alternative of accepting responsibility in an absurd world is too painful for us. Sartre gives the illustration of a waiter.
        • Imagine a pretentious waiter. His voice pompous, his actions ostentatious and overly keen. He is play acting as an automation rather than a human. He knows deep down he is not purely a waiter; he is consciously deceiving himself.
          • Waiter acts in bad faith by denying his own freedom and adopting the role dictated by society. When we complain of our situations and how we are restricted by social expectations, we act in bad faith. We are free to be authentically whatever we want to be.


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