EXISTENTIALISM AND HUMAN EMOTIONS

ABSTRACT
This paper’s purpose is to set out and justify existentialism as explored by Jean-Paul Sartre and to expound the philosophy from his book entitled “Existentialism and Human Emotions”. I chose to write about this topic because it has so much bearing on our day-to-day life, and I believe in existentialism as a good philosophy.

INTRODUCTION
What is existentialism? It is a philosophical approach to understanding and justifying the human existence and experiences, emphasizing the individual person as a free and responsible entity, and their own development as determined by individual acts of free will. In simple words, it is an emphasis on individual existence, freedom and choice.
Existentialism believes in the power of human practice, free but not capricious. It stresses the individuality of existence and the problems that arise with individual’s existence. It explores the question of concrete human existence and its individual freedom and choice.
In existentialism, choice is very important because one can learn from the choices they make, and committing themselves to those choices. The main distinction of humanity is its freedom to choose anything. There is no fixed nature that drives the humanity to do everything. One cannot escape choice. Even by not making a choice, you have taken the action of choosing not to make a choice.
Furthermore, subjectivism and individual actions are important in existentialism. Subjectivism is the freedom of an individual and one can’t pass beyond subjectivity. Individual experience and acting on your own convictions are essential in achieving personal truths. It affirms that we are defined by our actions and that we are only what our actions reveal.
Existentialism is also expressed as a principle that makes human life possible, by intellectually removing all superior oppressions of human existence and by asserting the possibility of free choice. It points out the fundamental freedom of man and his ability to create himself.

STANDPOINT
Fundamentally, I agree with Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical views about existentialism and that God could not possibly have existed. I conform to his atheistic existentialism and to his viewpoint that man is what he defines himself. The general gist of ‘Existentialism and Human Emotions’ is that existence precedes essence, and therefore man does not have a predetermined nature. This questions the existence of God. I affirm to Sartre’s view that man is alone, and he is a self-developing and self-motivated individual.

PRESENTATION
Jean-Paul Sartre is an atheist existentialist, who believes that the very assumption of a supreme being is absurd and impossible to prove. To help explain this, and to make my standpoint, I need to expand on my own insights about existentialism.
Firstly, I would like to describe the three existential emotions that make understanding existentialism easier – angst, forlornness and despair.
Angst is the feeling of total and deep responsibility. It manifests when we acknowledge that we must make a decision, but the consequences of that decision will impact others. These decisions make our path become the only reality we will ever know. Man is not just responsible for himself but also has to consider others as well. Furthermore, angst is felt by a person who involves himself and who realizes that he is not the only person he chooses to be, but also a lawmaker at the same time, who is choosing all mankind as well as himself. Sartre used the example of Abraham believing that an angel of God has ordered him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac; thus showing the angst of Abraham in trying to act rightfully, but without being able to secure any conclusive evidence of whether it is the right course of action.
Forlornness is the result of acknowledging that God doesn’t exist and that we have to face the impact of this. It is the torment that we will encounter when we realise that there is no right and wrong answer as laid out by God. Everything that we will do depends on ourselves, and not conceived by someone else. Sartre stated that this will lead us to a point where we will have to use our own instincts to decide what actions we should choose.
The third existential emotion is despair. It is when we confine ourselves to considering only what depends upon our will, or on the chances that make our actions possible. It is the realization that we cannot rely on anyone else for anything. Traditionally, it means complete loss of hope. Sartre defined despair as a state of mind in which we only deal with what we have control over. He also stated "But, given that man is free and that there is no human nature for me to depend on, I cannot count on men whom I do not know by relying on human goodness or man's concern for the good of society".
These three existentialist emotions sum up one’s existence in human reality. They form part of the thinking that man is free and responsible for himself and others. There is no other supreme force that formulates our will, as we think for ourselves and choose our own actions.
When Sartre explained that atheistic existentialism is more coherent because existence precedes essence, I agreed with the notion that God couldn’t possibly exist. This logic begins from a definite perspective not to propose two incongruent ideas, the reality of both God and man together. It breaks the conjunction of God and man. It sets aside God and opts for the man, consequently securing the importance of man’s existence.
Sartre asserts that existence precedes essence. It means that, first of all, man exists, he is already on the scene, but has not yet begun to define himself. At first man is nothing, it is only afterwards using his self created abilities that he will become something, and he will make what he will be. Not only what he dreams himself to be, but also what he motivates himself to be after this force toward existence. There can be no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. It’s not that someone tells the truth because that person is honest, but rather that person defines himself as honest by telling the truth again and again.
Sartre mentions in his book “Existentialism is not so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn't exist”. My own thought and objective was not to purposely set out to condemn the idea of God’s existence but more to support the claim that God is not relevant for man's existence. And it is through following this reasoning that leads me to question the existence of God. If man does not need God, there is no reason why he would have existed. It affirms that even if God did exist, that would not change anything in the basic fact that we make ourselves who we are. We will still find ourselves with the same norms of honesty, progress, and humanism. The existence of man is proof that God does not exist, because if man exists as a non-predefined being, then God cannot exist.
Another notable philosopher that can be used to further support my argument about the non-existence of God is Friedrich Nietzsche, whose principles reject the foundation of Christianity. According to him, the concept of God is merely a fantasy, illusion and a fictitious creation of an imaginative mind. The ideas of God as father, judge, or creator are no longer valid. God does not seem to hear or respond to us. Also, Nietzsche believes that there is no such thing as morality since everything is merely just an interpretation. David Hume, in his book “Treatise of Human Nature” said that free will is only our ignorance of cause and effect, and cause and effect is an illusion, so free will is an illusion. 
Sartre stated in his book “Existentialism” that man is indefinable because at first he is nothing. In my perception, he was not intending the literal meaning that man is nothing at all, because man is not an inanimate object but something definite. He said man is nothing because man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. In that case, there is no other influence, God or any other external force that could determine what is man. Man is nothing fixed and defined in time because man is what he does, what he is becoming, and what he makes of himself. He is defined according to what he does. A person can’t pretend that he is someone different than how or what he acts. This concludes that man is self-developing, self-motivated and a self-overcoming individual.
Sartre said in his book “Nausea” that existence is a fullness which man can never abandon. Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance. I believe this theory to be very true. When I was born into this world I have a choice if I should remain and define my existence through my actions or not. As a man, I have the power to transform myself indefinitely because I am condemned to be free. I choose and I act from within whatever situation I find myself because I am responsible for everything I do.
“Nothing is innate, not even dasein” said Martin Heidegger in “Being and Time”. He defined dasein as a human existence or presence, and it has no essence beyond what it can make itself be – there’s no fixed nature. It said that if we continually define ourselves, we also change the way we regard the world, and that in turn redefines us. The same with Sartre’s view 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. According to Heidegger, other things in the world may be relatively fixed, but man is different. Man faces conscience, dread, awareness of death, all of which lead man to question his authenticity.
In Heidegger’s book, it is explained that being human is the point of our existence, the opportunities we are given for fulfilling possibilities. It signifies that it is neither predetermined nor is it unconstrained, and that we are rooted in our times and its social preoccupations. To live properly, we need to discover our uniqueness and act, as we desire. However, doing so may bring alienation and anxiety, as we are the one who makes the reality of the world around us. There will be an element of negation, since much lies in the future, which we cannot see at present. Moreover, we all die, and die on our own, each person turning towards his eventual nothingness. In anguish we realize that we are driven into the world by chance, and are removed equally blindly. Beyond realizing our own potential there is no purpose to life. This resembles with Sartre’s existentialism that man is thrown out in this world and we are left with freedom and choice. That there will be no right or wrong answer, and everything depends on us and not by some external or supreme force.
In the book “Beyond Good and Evil” by Friedrich Nietzsche, it says that if we can identify one efficient cause that can explain all phenomena, we are better off than if we need to rely on many different causes. He suggested that ubermensch or “will to power” could serve as this one efficient cause. Nietzsche believes that all human behavior is dictated by this will. If this “will to power” also governs our drive for reproduction and nutrition, we could see it as motivating the whole cycle of life on this planet. Furthermore, he suggests that the will to power isn't present only in living things, but can also be found in dead matter. Like rocks and water simply just lack the organization and cohesion of a human body, and so it lacks a focused “will to power”, but even there the will to power is operating. He said that anything which is a living and not a dying body will have to be an incarnate “will to power”. It will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant - not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power. It is the individual drive of a person that strives for excellence. In existence precedes essence, man arrives and then defines himself with his will to power.
As Sartre said that every man performs an absolute act in breathing, eating, sleeping or behaving in any way whatever, but this act doesn’t create human essence. This is already present in man’s existence that shapes his own essence. For example, man exists before he can be defined by any concept and hence, his existence should be the basis for any later definition of his nature, not the other way round. But man’s nature is that he does not have any pre-defined nature, at least initially when he appears in the midst of other beings. Therefore, biological life doesn’t equal human existence or essence. The point here is that man is not determined by any pre-existing essence, not even the biological nature. Man himself decides whether he is going to be a grumpy and nasty person or a kind and caring individual, a miserable creature or an energetic and optimistic human, a murderer or an artist, an obedient subject or a free spirit. It is this freedom and choice in man that leads me to believe that God does not exist.

CONCLUSION/SUMMARY
Existentialism is an extremely diverse and varied philosophy. There are many that have written about it, very often from differing positions. However, even though it is so complex, there are certain headings that can help summarize existentialism.
Existence precedes essence, in other words, you need existence to have essence. There is no predetermined true thing. It has to already exist in order to become what it is.
Anxiety and anguish, the fear or dread that is not directed at any specific object, it's just there. Anguish is the dread of the nothingness of human existence, the meaningless of it. It is the underlying, all-pervasive, universal condition of man's existence.
Absurdity. "Granted I am my own existence, but this existence is absurd." Everybody is here, everybody exists, but there is no reason as to why. We are just here, that's it.
Nothingness. There is nothing that structures this world's existence, man's existence. There is no essence that these things are drawn from, since existence precedes essence.
Death. The theme of death follows along with the theme of nothingness. Death is always there; there is no escaping from it. To think of death, as everybody does sooner or later, causes anxiety. The only sure way to end anxiety once and for all is through death.
To believe in existentialism is to believe in existence before essence. In the absence of essence, man is left to self-create, thus having no need for the existence of God setting out a pre-determined path or purpose for him. Therefore in concluding my position that God does not exist, I would state that if the existence of God were true, every individual man would be the realization of an idea in the mind of God. In the same manner, if God exists then essence would precede existence for everything in the world except for God himself. However, human reality proves that man is responsible for himself. Nothing can save man from himself, not even a valid proof of God's existence.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir
  • Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
  • Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Existentialism and Human Emotions by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre


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