Mar 13, 2020 in Psychology

Sartre's Concept of Freedom as the Only Human Characteristic to Share: Myth or Reality?

One of the basic concepts of Jean-Paul Sartre philosophy is the theory of the fundamental project. According to Sartre, the aim of the human life is freedom. In his work Being and Nothingness, the philosopher highlights the two main principles: the being of the object of the consciousness and the consciousness itself. The gap between these two states is formed by the power of negation.

The main inconsistency in his philosophy is the notion of freedom as the only characteristic of the human beings to share and their dependence on the same fundamental project for long time. This contradiction derives from the definition how each individual create his essence from nothing. Therefore, in-between these two notions there is the stage of unconscious freedom and evaluation of the world by oppositions good-bad.

The works of Jean-Paul Sartre are closely connected with the philosophy of existentialism. The main concept of his theory of being is the understanding of human existence. The philosopher omits the examination of the world in isolation from the individual consciousness and prioritizes the metaphysical understanding of “what it is to be human”. For explaining the sense of the existence, the self requires the motivation by a desire for “being”. Sartre calls this complex of factors “individual’s fundamental project”. Each project starts with an impulsive unique choice that stands on the freedom of every individual. Still, any personal choice may have such negative consequences as the delusion in the form of bad faith. According to the philosopher’s approach, there is the constant confrontation between for-itself nature of every person and in-itself.

Jean-Paul Sartre defines the being for-itself as the presence of the consciousness, while the being in-itself is the entity of the object of the consciousness. These two concepts are separated by the “power of negation”. In order to identify the concept of nothingness, Sartre discusses the phenomenon of questioning. Due to the philosopher, every question presupposes some negative replay. Thus, the nihilation emerges in coming and going of the “being and nothingness”. Nonetheless, when one is making choices, this may provoke the consequence such as the bad-faith, where the human “real nature as for-itself is discarded to adopt that of the in-itself”. Consequently, the only approach for omitting the self-cheating is the desire for the freedom and authenticity.

Analyzing the concept of freedom in Jean-Paul Sartre’s works, it is crucial to examine the concept of anguish. It is based on the consciousness being torn between the hypothesis of unity and duality. The instability inside the for- and in-parts of self creates sufferings for the personality. Moreover, every individual experience causes the pain while sacrificing freedom for the sake of the social interaction. Thus, Sartre’s notion of the bad faith covers self-deception through denying facticity and freedom. As an example, the philosopher tells the story about the woman on date. He provides an illustration for the bad faith that involves the denying of freedom. When the man takes her hand and she does not take it away but does not notice that she leaves it is the vivid example of self-deception by pretending of not having a choice of actions.

Owing to the fact that Jean-Paul Sartre considers freedom to be the unique characteristic that all individuals share, it is hard for him to explain why many human beings have the tight connection with the same fundamental project for the extensive period. The problem of this fact explanations origins from the idealization of the personal freedom and strict division between the perception of freedom and facticity. In reality, people are not born and brought up with the clear understanding of the liberty of the choice for the values and interpretation of the world.

In my opinion, it is essential to reject the absoluteness of Sartre’s claim that there are no traits other than freedom that human beings tend to share for the explaining the dependence on individual projects. People are the social creatures: after the birth humans start to interpret the world through the concept of oppositions such as mother – not-mother, my – alien, pleasure-pain, and many others. The individual’s consciousness in early stages is not aware of the freedom of the world understanding. Until every person becomes a mature grown-up with well developed critical thinking, the idea of self-deception is considered to be a social self-perception and self-awareness.

However, in his work The Humanism of Existentialism Jean-Paul Sartre’s approach states the idea that the human is“at least one being in whom existence precedes essence”. Therefore, the philosopher approves the idea of the consciousless existance with the unaccesible understanding of freedom. To illustrate the logics of the conscious percepting of the world, Sartre explains the human being as “at first he is nothing” than only afterwards becomes something by percepting who he is. So far, the idea of the evolution of nothing into something clarifies the origin of the for-itself and in-itself confrontation and the onset of the dependance on the same fundamental project for lengthy periods of time.

On count of people’s creating the essence of themselves through the actions and life-defining projects, it becomes obvious that the human beings use their freedom of choise for not being genuinely free. In this case, it is not an example of the bad faith, but, on the contrary, an example of accepting the factility of the liberty in the fundamental self-actualization. Over the years of the social coexistance, people have developed a number of stereotypes to assess the perception of the world and other individuals. Thus, usually the conscious does not benefit from the total freedom, but saves the time and affords by interpreting the self and the world with the help of the generally accepted ideas in the surrounding, where the human being was brought up. Consequently, it becomes obvious that freedom is not the only characteristic that the individuals tend to share. There is the concept of social inteligence that determines the level of implementation of the individual freedom, not causing, at the same time, the bad faith.

To conclude, it is necessary to highlight that Sartre’s idea of freedom as the only human characteristic to share is rather dubious. Stating the priority of freedom, Jean-Paul Sartre provides the overview description of the formation of consciousness from nothingness. That is why does not consider the human dependence on the same fundamental project as a conscious choice, based on the free will. From the point of view of the social intelligence, the bad faith in the form of denying facticity and freedom may be interpreted as the world interpretation with the respect of customs and traditions executed from the state of being nothing into becoming the essence. What remains valid is the division of us into the two interdependent parts: for-itself as basic freedom derived from nothingness and in-itself as the facticity obtained from being. Therefore, people are free both of making choices of actions and of who they are as well as of equivocation of preferences, sticking to the provided by community the agreed statements and conclusions.

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