Jean-Paul Sartre’s Understanding of Metaphysics

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Understanding of Metaphysics

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

For him, human nature cannot be explained in the way we define a product produced by man.

According to Sartre’s thesis, if we were to make any tool or object, we would first design what this object would be like. For example, let’s take a table. The table has been manufactured by a person who has the idea of ​​a table in his head and knows what the table will be used for and how it will be produced. Accordingly, before the table was created, it was designed as something that had a specific purpose and was the product of a process. By the essence of the table, if we understand the process of its making and the purpose for which it was made, the essence of the table precedes its existence. According to Sartre, this is not the case with man.

At first glance, we think that man is also the work of a creator, God. We see God as a supernatural artist, like a carpenter, who fabricates the table, and thus we point out that when God created man, he knew what he had created. However, Sartre is an atheist thinker who denied the existence of God. If God does not exist, then according to Sartre, man cannot have a predetermined essence by God. Man only exists, he was not created according to a previous model, a sketch, an essence, and a certain purpose. Man exists first and defines himself later. Man only exists and according to Sartre, how he makes himself, so he becomes. Although man has no predetermined essence, he is not, for Sartre, a simple and unconscious being, like a stone or a stick. He says that a piece of stone is whatever it is; The existence of the stone is that which is introverted and cannot be anything other than itself.

It is not possible for the piece of stone in question to be one way or the other; he is what he is always. This, according to Sartre, is being-in-itself. Man, on the other hand, has existence for himself (that is, the mode of being that differentiates him from the stone), apart from being in himself (that is, being in the way the piece of stone is). That is, man is the conscious subject; man is conscious of his existence. Man is conscious of his existence, returning to himself, knowing himself. Therefore, it is out of the question to ascribe a pre-given and unchanging essence to man. Man, who is a conscious being, ‘is what he is not, he is not what he is.’ That is, the human being, who is a conscious being, has the capacity to change endlessly. You cannot define it by what it is now, because the moment you define it, it has become something else, another individual. Consciousness always takes a person to something else, something beyond. A conscious subject is an entity constantly standing before a future. Consciousness is freedom and an orientation towards a future. In other words, human nature is in a way no different from any other kind of reality. Man exists like anything else, he is simply there. However, man, unlike other things or realities, has a consciousness. Therefore, man is in different relations to the world of things and to other people. Accordingly, consciousness is always consciousness of something, which means that it exists by affirming the existence of an object that transcends consciousness itself.

The object of consciousness can only be the world as something ‘out there’. Outside the world as a single solid mass, we speak of certain objects, according to Sartre, such as chairs, mountains. The object we call the table is shaped by the activity of consciousness, being cut off from the whole of the world. The external world only appears to consciousness as an intelligible system of separate but interrelated things. Without consciousness, the world simply exists; it is being-in-itself and as such is meaningless. It is consciousness that gives meaning to the things in the world, even if it does not give existence. Accordingly, consciousness first of all defines things in the world and gives them meaning. Secondly, consciousness transcends itself, that is, it puts a distance between itself and objects and in this way achieves independence from objects. Because the conscious self has such independence from things in the world, it is within the power of consciousness to attribute different or alternative meanings to things. According to Sartre, one can choose to be an engineer or a worker, attached to this or that project or project; The beings in the world gain meaning depending on these preferences of the human being. Moral View: According to this, human first exists, human existence precedes what he will become. What will happen to a person will depend on the attitude of the consciousness towards the world it sees from a distance. From this distance, in this state of independence from things and people, a person makes a choice about how to connect to these things and people.

Since man has such freedom in the face of the world, the world cannot affect man’s consciousness and choices. Changing the fact that he transcends the world, that he can look at the world from above and from afar, and that he has to constantly make choices is out of the question for a human being. In short, according to Sartre, man is free.