Existentialism Essay

Existentialism Essay

Length: 1364 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In his 1946 essay Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre undertakes the task of defending existentialism against what he defines as “charges” (341) brought against it. Sartre begins to outline the “charges” brought against existentialism and further, existentialists. Following the medieval quaestio-form, Sartre begins with the statement of the objection, a short discussion, and then his reply to each.
The first of the charges is that of quietism. “First, it has been charged with inviting people to remain in a kind of desperate quietism because, since no solutions are possible, we should have to consider action in this world as quite impossible” (341). Historically, quietism was a Christian philosophy that advocated withdrawal from worldly activities for passive and constant contemplation of God. The Roman Catholic Church officially decreed quietism to be heresy. The Christians then raise the objection that existentialism focuses on the hopelessness of the human situation and as a result, the philosophy leaves little ambition for action.
The next of these objections is that of “…dwelling on human degradation, with pointing up everywhere the sordid, shady, and slimy, and neglecting the gracious and beautiful, the bright side of human nature…” (341) As Sartre explains, the objection is essentially that existentialisms focuses on the “evil” or dreary side of life.

The third charge made against existentialism is that of isolation. “(FINISH QUOTE)…having ignored human solidarity, with considering man as an isolated being.” (341) The objection is that existentialism ignores human solidarity and examines human beings as individuals.
The fourth and final charge laid against existentialism is that of arbitrariness. “…we are charged w...


... middle of paper ...


...o pass judgment on others, because there’s no reason to prefer one configuration to another’” (360). “…one can still pass judgment, for, as I have said, one makes a choice in relationship to others. First, one can judge (and this is perhaps not a judgment of value, but logical judgment) that certain choices are based on error and others on truth” (362).
The final “sub charge” is that “‘everything is arbitrary in this choosing of yours. You take something from one pocket and pretend you’re putting it into the other.’” (360) Sartre explains, “…if I’ve discarded God the Father, there has to be someone to invent values,” (365) and that “…to say that we invent values means nothing else but this: life has no meaning a priori. Before you come alive, life is nothing; it’s up to you to give it a meaning and value is nothing else but the meaning that you choose” (365).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Existentialism Is A Defining Point Of Existentialism

- Existentialism is just one of the many philosophies that attempt to determine the meaning of life. This idea that the world is meaningless developed in Europe around the time of World War II. Many writers and authors in the forties and fifties were affected by the horrors of war and this new philosophy, namely, Albert Camus. Existentialism is greatly reflected in Camus’ time period, culture, and works such as The Stranger. To truly understand how existentialism is reflected in Camus’ time and works, it must first be defined....   [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus]

Good Essays
1197 words (3.4 pages)

The Existentialist Literary Exam Paper : Existentialism

- Blythe McGregor December 5, 2017 Existentialist Literary Exam Paper: Prompt 3 Reality is a fundamental concept discussed in many branches of philosophy. It is particularly important within the existentialist framework. Existentialists, as well as phenomenologists, believe that when a human being is separated from reality, reality is altogether lost. If one is not currently in direct contact with reality, there is no reality at all. The existence of reality is dependent on one’s own experience of it....   [tags: Franz Kafka, Existentialism, The Trial, Ontology]

Good Essays
725 words (2.1 pages)

Understanding Existentialism Essays

- Do we matter. Do we seek personal happiness in life. These are questions from existentialism. The dictionary defines existentialism as an individual’s experience filled with isolation in a hostile universe where a human being attempts to find true self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Hamlet is an existentialist character who believes that he is forced to avenge his father’s death and the hatred builds in his heart because of the many betrayals which direct him towards a senseless life and constant thoughts about suicide; this ultimately leads to his demise and he is left with naught....   [tags: Existentialism]

Good Essays
872 words (2.5 pages)

Existentialism In Gilgamesh Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh is incorrectly considered to be the very first existentialist story. Centering around the titular king Gilgamesh, the epic follows his journey from being a self-obsessed tyrant to a great ruler, through the realization and acceptance of his own mortality. Scholars such as Micah Sadigh tote The Epic as a fundamentally existential text because of the lessons it teaches about responsibility and actions. However, using Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents and interpretations of what existentialism is, The Epic cannot be viewed as an existential story, but rather a cautionary tale about society overpowering human aggression....   [tags: Existentialism, Epic of Gilgamesh]

Good Essays
1264 words (3.6 pages)

Essay about Existentialism And Its Impact On Society

- The universe we inhabit is by all accounts an atypical one; a few people manage its foolishness by encompassing themselves with faith, while others disregard all its significance. Existentialism, nonetheless, ushers us down a remarkable course that darkens these perspectives toward one of a kind belief structure. Despite the fact that we can experience circumstances that are out of our control, we do have the ability to control how we manage said circumstances and regardless of whether we decide to create significance from them....   [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre]

Good Essays
1120 words (3.2 pages)

Existentialism : I Heart Huckabees Essay

- The universe we inhabit seems to be an atypical one; some individuals deal with its foolishness by surrounding themselves with faith, while others neglect all its significance. Existentialism, however, ushers us down a unique course that obscures these views toward one unique belief structure. Even though we can encounter circumstances that are out of our control, we do have the ability to control how we deal with said circumstances and whether or not we choose to develop importance from them. The hunt for our true meaning is primitive and so are the answers that have maintained it throughout history....   [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre]

Good Essays
1106 words (3.2 pages)

Beauvoir And Existentialism Essay

- Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were key figures in the philosophy of existentialism. Existentialism is defined as the philosophical theory that highlights individual existence, choice and freedom. It is the idea that human beings determine their own meaning in life, and venture to make rational decisions in spite of living in an illogical and unreasonable universe. Essentially, this principle calls into question human existence and the notion that individuals do not have a purpose in life....   [tags: Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Philosophy]

Good Essays
1590 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on Existentialism And Meursault

- The Connection between Existentialism and Meursault An existentialist represents their choices throughs their actions, opposed to with their words (Corbett). Therefore, someone who expresses the ideals of existentialism may be a threat to society because of their differences in morality compared to others. In The Stranger, by Albert Camus, Meursault was always looking to find meaning in his life because of everything that was happening to him at the time; and that is a key characteristic of someone embracing the ideals of existentialism....   [tags: Existentialism, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre]

Good Essays
1096 words (3.1 pages)

Movie Existentialism Essay

- Existentialism, as defined by Luke Mastin, “...is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice.”(2008). There are multiple occasions in which an individual can encounter an existentialist situation without acknowledging it. For example, choosing to go to school one day or not would be considered freedom of choice, which connects with the philosophy of existentialism. In the context of existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard’s theory correlates to the movie, Before I Fall directed and adapted by Ry Russo-Young from the novel written by Lauren Oliver, due to the many movie scenes that involve an existentialist moment as exemplified through the main character in relation to K...   [tags: Existentialism, Philosophy, Søren Kierkegaard]

Good Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Existentialism Essay

- Existentialism 'Existence precedes essence'. These are the few words that many people live by. These words describe a philosophy called Existentialism. The philosophical term, Existentialism, came from Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher. Jean Paul Sartre wrote 'No Exit', where he portrayed his philosophy negatively. On the other hand, Albert Camus, who wrote The Stranger, portrayed Existentialism positively through his characters. Each author uses the characteristics of Existentialism positively or negatively to define their own story as well as their characters as true Existentialists or not      Existentialism has been described as a philosophical movement especially of the 20th cent...   [tags: Philosophy Sartre Existentialist Essays]

Free Essays
1272 words (3.6 pages)