In my previous article, I spoke about the life and times of the queer 20th-century French intellectual called Sartre. In this article, I intend to present to you some of the existentialist philosophies Sartre spoke about.
Sartre’s love for philosophy begins over a glass of beer…
While many might take up philosophy to address serious concerns about life, For Sartre, the motivation was alcohol. Sartre was inspired by one of his Philosopher friends who came up with philosophy over a glass of beer at a French Bistro. After which, he too decided to take up philosophy at university. His keen observations about life – the relation between the past and present his understanding of nature of human ego made him a celebrated philosopher over the world.
Essence precedes Existence….
Sartre stars out by highlighting that, Each Human being is alone, abandoned and free. He goes on to create and recreate his or her ‘’essence’’ or meaning about life, in every moment through his or her choice of actions. Sartre believes that our society is not based on the instinctual needs that many theorists talk about. Every action is planned and thought out and put into action. Even our biological drives like Nutrition and sex are met through culturally sanctioned actions involving intention and choice.
Unreflected consciousness reflected consciousness and monstrous freedom.
For us Humans, consciousness is almost certain. "I think, therefore, I am." We know consciousness better than we know the physical world, knowing consciousness, through material bodies through consciousness.
Unreflected consciousness involves thoughts that randomly cross a person’s head, a beautiful scenery, the sprinting trees while passing by them in a car, immediate thoughts about someone when you see them. However, reflected consciousness includes thoughts about oneself, ones’ choices and actions.
The mind has to deal with the spontaneous nature of these thoughts that keep going back and forth in the corner of the mind. Humans remain unsatisfied and need to escape their own selves. In a way, all of us are monstrously free with our thoughts because we have the freedom to think of almost anything. We always look for a Freudian unconscious to blame for all the thoughts that trouble us. They are nothing but parts of our very own consciousness that we try to disguise. Ego masks from consciousness its very own spontaneity.
Clocked and Lived time…
All of us remember the endless time we spent as kids playing around during the day while all the adults cared about was that afternoon nap and we didn’t really why they were tired all the time. According to Sartre that kind of time that just passes without us even knowing is lived time. It is filled with leisure. It’s the time we cherish.
The hurry to complete tasks that the world sets for us and the worry of not reaching a particular milestone is experienced as clocked time, a cultural overlay that is eventually taught to and imbibed by our children, the kind of time in which adults become absorbed.
What is a Human’s relation to his Past and the unforeseen future?
Sartre completely denied deterministic points of view like that of Freud or skinner who emphasized upon our past events having consequences for our future. According to Sartre that logic does not apply because in that way, a human does not have any freedom to live his life because everything has already been determined and yet how is it that we make new choices every day and take up decisions that are challenging, this to Sartre is the true meaning of the lives we lead which is created and re-created with the upcoming experiences, new experiences have no link with our past. Sartre agrees that our past has a certain Facticity, that our past has certain facts that are not subject to change but beyond that. The past has no relation to our present or even future. We humans are separated from our past by nothingness.
I do hope the existentialist philosophy added a new perspective to the way you look at life. Don’t be afraid to analyze, introspect, ‘’overthink’’ because it is in these moments that the world appears truly wonderful.