Free Will

Sartre and Descartes

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Sartre (Existentialist)

Sartre says that objects have an essence and humans do not


According to Sartre objects their essence precedes and determines how they exist

Satre's example of the paper knife. The artisan had an idea of the knife before he made it. he knew why he wanted to make it.

Essence preceded existence


Accroding to Sartre humans have no essence although the crave one. if we had an essence it would determine how we behave. we would be the same as objects

Our existence precedes our essence

Having no essence gives us free will. We exist first and make chices, we are the author of our own lives

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Sartre (Continued)

Having no essence gives us free will. We exist first and make chices, we are the author of our own lives

"Man is nothing else but the sum of his actions"- Sartre illustrated this point by talking about a novelist Proust, he was considered a genius. Accroding to Sartre Proust did not possess any essential genius that was the cause of his great works.  We create ourselves by what we do

 Mauvaise foi- Bad faith, Ilusion of free will

This is the self deception that we are not free when in fact we are. We do not want to be free therefore we pretend that we are not free. We might start going up hill and start getting tired and you will say to yourself I am to tired to continue when in fact you a free to keep going up the hill, therfore we are not deternined

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Descartes- Dualism- Criticisms


1. Incoherence of Interactionsim

it seems the idea of a non physical mind operating in a physical universe, as it were part of a physical process, yet being somehow a different kind of substance, is incoherent. How can a desire in my mind, totally outside the universe cause my body to move.

2. Violation of the law of the conservation of energy

in a cloded system energy cannot be created or destroyed , so total energy must remain the same. but if the human mind and the brain are interacti, then this requires energy, which must be coming from outside the pysical world. This contravenes the law of the conservation of energy

3. Neural Dependency

if the brain and the mind are seperate *** can a knock on the brain make you black out as the mind is non physical meanwhile the brain is physical.


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 Dualism is the belief that the physical world is made of physical substance but the mind is non-physical and made up of a different kind of substance

This type of dualism would seem to offer those believing in free will an escape route from physical determinism

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