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Assess Sartre P-E-P

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Assess Sartre's claim that man's existence precedes his essence Sartre argued that man has not set nature; there is no path set out for any man to follow. This is due to the non-existence of god. Sartre argued that if god did exist, we would have a purpose in life and know exactly what is required of us as human beings. However, without any guiding force, we are completely free to live our lives however we please. This is what Sartre is indicating when he uses the phrase 'existence precedes essence'; Sartre argues that we are almost thrown into existence without any predetermined purpose. Sartre uses the example of a paper-knife to illustrate an object where essence precedes existence. A paper-knife, like any other article of manufacture, is carefully constructed with a very particular purpose in mind. ...read more.


A for-itself is a free consciousness without any fundamental purpose, it has the ability to reflect on itself and its activities. Sartre regards human beings as for-itself. As humans, we have the capacity to be anything we wish, we can choose our vocations, lifestyles and even our emotions. We are not bound in any way to particular path; thus, unlike the paper-knife or inkwell our essence is discovered and developed as we live our lives and are not set out at birth. As a result of not having a predetermined essence, we as human beings individually pursue our own lives without any commonality with other people; there is no underlying human nature or shared characteristics that we can hold as binding factor. However, the plausibility of his argument is questionable. Sartre may be correct in asserting that we are free to pursue our own paths in life but does that mean we have nothing in common with our fellow men? ...read more.


Also, Sartre makes no attempt to argue for the non-existence of God, rather, it is just assumed. Although Sartre seems to be claming that man has no essence, it can be argued that he is, himself giving a man an essence. Arguably, Sartre has made freedom and although it may manifest in different ways in different people, it is a fundamental property we all share. However, accepting this argument would depend in the definition of essence; if we are to see essence in the sense of determining actions and choices then this argument would lack support. Overall, Sartre seems to make a solid and credible argument regarding mans existence and essence; we are not born with a preset nature and purpose and are thus free to pursue any path we wish. However, Sartre's theory has had a series of man's existence precedes essence is a matter of weighing up the credibility of both sides of the argument. ...read more.

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