Sartre Self Concept

1500 Words6 Pages
One of the major questions within the subject of philosophy centers around the concept of a self, and whether we, as humans, function primarily as individual selves or as one greater, universal or transcendent self. If a true individual self does exist, another secondary question arises regarding freedom and, more specifically, to what extent an individual is free to make choices that determine the remainder of their life. At one extreme of the issue, a person could argue that an individual does not have any freedom whatsoever, and that all the events that occur throughout life are predetermined by some sort of higher being or plan and would, therefore, occur regardless of any choices one could possibly make. At the opposite end of the spectrum…show more content…
To elaborate, there is no universal attribute or essence that could accurately apply to the entire span of humanity. Although the following characteristics are consistent with the concept of what would be described as a typical or ideal human, not every human walks on two legs or has five senses. Although they may not be immediately obvious at all times, there are always exceptions to the “rules” of being human. In Sartre’s own words, “man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and only afterwards, defines himself” (Sartre 345). Sartre, based on his belief that humans lack of any essence, is, then, able to conclude that humans are essentially free to make a great deal of choices in life regarding the actions they take. What one becomes, or what can be referred to as one’s identity, is a result of these…show more content…
Sartre takes the idea of existentialism a step further, transforming it from a simple philosophy of social quietism into an empowering political movement. Humans have choices to make, but the ability to make choices does not eliminate the consequences of those said choices, or the fact that they still ought to be held accountable for the decisions they carry out. This sense of accountability places boundaries on the freedoms humans have. As Sartre states, “existentialism’s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him”, and he proceeds saying, “And when we say that a man is responsible for himself, we do not only mean that he is responsible for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men” (Sartre 346). Exercising freedom responsibly is both a reflection of the individual and of the larger
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