Jean Paul Sartre

Satisfactory Essays

Most western Philosophies and monotheistic traditions base the creation of man as a design of god. God is the primary artisan that is the creator for all, and god’s conception of man is conceived before the creation of man. For Sartre this means that because god created humanity through a conception, it must mean that we are all created to that conception and are created with a purpose, or as Sartre defines human nature (Sartre, p.206-207).

As an atheistic existentialist Sartre sees a problem with a notion of a divine creator, as this would mean that our essence precedes our existence. Jean Paul Sartre’s notion of existence preceding essence is his ideology that debates freedom and human choice. Sartre’s basic claim is that the existence of humanity exists before there is conception of values and morals, human nature (Sartre, p 207). For Sartre humanity is born with a blank slate, no predetermined value and no basic essence that humanity shares. Subsequently this means that because we have no particular ideal abstract of human nature, we are all responsible to create our own construction of essence through the choices we make. We define ourselves by the sum of choices and actions we make. (Sartre, p. 208) Sartre’s argument denies the traditional philosophy of an existing human nature, or an ideal abstract of being that we are all born with. Sartre’s theory articulates the absence of an omniscient creator (Sartre, p. 209). Sartre believes that man creates his nature and finds value though his free choices. Sartre elaborates this through his concept of freedom by establishing that our conscience is separate from the physical world; it is without restriction and therefore must be free. (Sartre, p. 239-241) The radical freedom Sartre expresses however does have restrictions of facticity. The limitations that are instilled in us, the situations we are all thrown in does restrict some possibilities of our freedom, this is called facticity. Facticity is the situation we find ourselves in, but this does not change that we are still more than our situation; we always have choice and are destined to it. (Sartre, p 240-241)


To accept that existence precedes essence one would have to come to the conclusion that there is no innate human nature and therefore no god to conceive it (Sartre, p.207). For many western philosophies and monotheistic religions this proves to be problem and they dispute existentialism in that respect.
Get Access