Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical tome and thought-provoking masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, singlehandedly laid the foundation for modern existentialism. An exhilarating account and radical account of the human condition, this book delves into the essence of life. “Existentialism” will be regarded forever as one of historical convenience for literary and intellectual pillars of philosophy. We can take proud credit to Jean-Paul Sarte’s explicit adaptation of this concept becoming a cultural phenomenon in history.
Sarte was indebted to the influence of Martin Heidegger’s analogy of ontology. Heidegger calls a mode of self-awareness “freedom” – the ultimate nothingness of practical identity. There is nothing to be fulfilled in the promise of freedom in it of itself and to regard with ontology Heidegger tells the idea of no general, non-formal account of what it means to be human can be given, since that meaning is decided in and through existing itself. Meaning, or essence, is ascribed to existence. Sarte simply explains that man couldn’t achieve any form of personal fulfillment and self-created visions of “completion” in search of the “being that causes itself, which philosophers refer to as “God”. This is parallel to Heidegger’s thesis.
The self is born in a material reality encapsulated in a meatsuit makes it hard to find the meaning of essence in the existence of life. Moreover, despite the desperation of clarity and meaning, the being is not a servant to the self. We are detached from authenticity, as would Heidegger otherwise suggest, due to “Bad Faith” disowning authentic actions to adopt false values and beliefs. It criticizes the liberal concept of “Free Will” because man is a prisoner of himself in a material sense. There is no concept of treatment nor acknowledgment of the authentic “self” reciprocally submissive to the “being” under false sense. This is the delusion of existence, to put it bluntly, the being does not exist in itself.
Classical existentialism prescribes a man having no built-in “substance” of his own, no structure, but rather he is shaped by the consequences of his action, inaction, and decision. If you cannot be yourself as you are then essence cannot exist. Essence precedes existence and it must be followed through the order.
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