Freedom And Responsibility In Sartre's Consequences Of Man

1650 Words 7 Pages
In Existentialism & Humanism (1948), Sartre states that man is completely free, and is entirely responsible for himself and mankind. According to Sartre, a man who tries to deny this freedom and ‘who takes refuge behind the excuse of his passions, or by inventing some deterministic doctrine, is a self-deceiver’ (p. 60) In this essay, I will discuss this claim. I will begin by explaining this idea of complete freedom and responsibility in more detail, and why the anguish it entails leads us to be self-deceivers. I will then move on to show why Sartre’s claim that man is responsible for all of mankind does not hold, before explaining why this is perhaps meant as a moral philosophy that Sartre wants us to adopt. Indeed, I will show that whilst …show more content…
But there is a problem with his claim that my commitments are commitments for all. Indeed, if all men are supposedly linked through this universal freedom and every time I choose I am expressing this freedom (Bernasconi, 2006), it does not explain why what I am committing all of mankind to is the content of my choices, i.e. the values I affirm, instead of just freedom itself. We might accept the claim that I am always free to choose and that I do always choose, but why would my choosing monogamy commit all of mankind to this value …show more content…
However, his claim that my commitments are commitments for all is flawed, and therefore so is the idea that I am responsible for all mankind. That being said, it still remains that we are completely free and therefore responsible for ourselves entirely. This individual responsibility puts a lot of pressure on us, and it does not seem unreasonable to think that the anxiety it causes individually could be enough to create this anguish we want to avoid (Caws, 1978). So whilst my saying “I do not commit all mankind” is a valid objection and not self-deception, I am still entirely responsible for myself, so if I were to blame my choices on my passions or a deterministic doctrine, Sartre’s claim that I would be a self-deceiver is valid.
So, the main problem with Sartre’s argument is the idea that I am responsible for all mankind. But perhaps this is not as much a major mistake as it is an over-exaggeration of our

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