Sartre 's Moral Relativism And Existentialism Essay

Sartre 's Moral Relativism And Existentialism Essay

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Jean-Paul Sartre was a notable French philosopher and writer of the 20th century whose literary works have strongly influenced the world of academia and spurred intellectual contest in the Modern era. In Sartre’s 1945 publication, “Existentialism and Humanism,” Sartre had argued extensively about the notion of abandonment – the notion that we live freely in this world without purpose, and his stance on atheistic existentialism. His main argument was that existence precedes essence so humans acquire meaning through lived experiences since humans are free to choose and decide for themselves. From this, he concludes that there exists no such thing as ‘a priori’ morality and that “God is a useless and costly hypothesis” (28). In this paper, I will be rebutting Sartre’s moral nihilism argument since it lacks apparent linkage between the notion of freedom of choice and the idea that ‘a priori’ morality does not exist.
Sartre discussed a situation that involved one of his students having to choose between staying with his mother or fight the Nazis with the Free French Forces. He views this as a good illustration of abandonment since it involves the feeling of anguish. The young man recognizes that, to a certain extent, he must choose for everyone and not just for himself. However, he has no way of judging or confirming whether his choice is right or wrong. The young man is ‘abandoned’ in this world in the sense that he has not been instructed to commit to a choice and he has not been given any evidence as to which choice is the right one. According to Sartre, nothing in this world can show anyone what they ought to do, so we should act according to our free will because we are free beings.
Sartre has continually emphasized that everyth...


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...red as something that is almost non-existent.
Sartre has proven to be mostly successful in his attempt to argue for moral nihilism. Despite the fact that there may not be any explicit objective moral rules, we are still limited by our physical abilities to do certain things. While it is true that we are free to decide for ourselves, we are constrained by our humanistic biology, which can act as a motivation or reason for us to make certain rules for ourselves. Torturing babies may not be objectively wrong, but it serves as an unnecessary action. Therefore, we do not generally engage in such practices. Sartre had said that when we decide for ourselves, we decide for everyone. Since this constrain applies to most, if not all, human beings, this means we do have an established objective rule that, although may not be apparent, is acknowledged by the human population.

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