Sartre: Freedom and the Two Types of Being

Sartre: Freedom and the Two Types of Being

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

One of the reasons you have freedom is because you have something that objects don’t: consciousness.

Being Cartesian (Cartesian), Sartre followed in the footsteps of Descartes, who distinguished between extended (corporeal) substance and mental substance. One of the hallmarks of mental substance is freedom. Sartre says that when you analyze what appears to you, you will discover two modes of existence.

The first is the mode of existence manifested in objects. It is called in itself or in itself. The term in itself refers to the self-sufficient and self-identical nature of objects. Sartre gives the example of a manufactured object, the paper cutter. A paper cutter is a man-made object designed for a specific purpose. Unlike man, he has a predetermined and unchanging essence. Nothing in this object or any other object goes beyond what is already. A bottle, a mountain, or a house simply exists.

The second type of existence characterizes human consciousness. Sartre names this type of existence for himself. The term for itself indicates that such beings are conscious and self-aware. Rather than being determined by external factors such as the dependence of objects on gravity, you are able to act according to natural and spontaneous freedoms and future possibilities. You are “subjectivity”, wrote Sartre in “Existentialism and Human Emotions”. “Man, first of all, is the being who hurls himself towards the future and is conscious of imagining himself in the future.”

Sartre’s greatest work is Being and Nothingness (1943). The title reflects both types of existence. Being-in-itself is simply there, without possibilities. Being-for-itself, unlike being-in-itself, is not identical and complete with itself, it is open to the future. This opening must be filled by one’s choices. So when consciousness is involved, “nothing” is introduced to the world. Only being ‘for itself’ can stand apart from the bare existence of things in the everyday order. That is, consciousness has the ability to separate itself from things and live in the “non-existent” (the realm of possibilities). You become aware of your own consciousness by becoming aware of the gap between yourself and objects determined in the everyday order.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook; “Understanding Philosophy in All Its Aspects” by Kennet Shouler