jean Paul Sartre, one of the leading founders of Existentialism, argued that we are condemned to be free. Since “existence precedes essence,” we exist first and then use our choices to construct who we really are. To avoid the stress of this burden, Sartre argues we are “acting in bad faith” when we act as if we are not free. This includes falling into roles – like husband, doctor, democrat, etc – and acting out the script expected of them. Instead we must take charge of our lives, exercise our free will, and courageously choose.
- What does “existence precedes essence” mean for Existentialists?
- What does Sartre mean when he says people often “act in bad faith”? Can you give some examples?
- Why do you think people fall so easily into pre-defined social roles? What are some examples?
- How can we make sure we don’t “act in bad faith”?
Keywords: Sartre, philosophy, free will, metaphysics, human nature, existentialism