Sartre's Being And Nothingness Analysis

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The Situation comes in Part IV of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and aims to explain how it is that one can be free in the face of the deterministic nature of our existence. This essay aims to explain how Sartre sees that there are aspects of existence which can be seen to restrict one's freedom, but under an ontological freedom these restrictions are nonexistent. These restrictions are referred to by existentialism as ‘facticitcity’ meaning the objective fact about the external world which are outside of one's control, past one's reaction to them. These facticities are categorised as My Place, My Past, My Environment, My Fellow Man, and My Death. This essay shall focus on My Past and My Death, and evaluate how both aspects are insufficient …show more content…
Sartre accepts that “Far from being able to modify our situation at our whim, we seem to be unable to change ourselves. I am not "free" either to escape the lot of my class, of my nation, of my family” (Sartre, 2003, p. 503). Sartre argues that one is free due to one's constant ability to choose our projects in life and we are free to place the meaning we wish to these situations. Sartre's idea of freedom differs from the traditional understanding, and this is especially clear when we consider the Prisoner (Sartre, 2003, p.505). The traditional understanding of freedom revolves around the idea of one's ability to act, to reach one's aims. In the traditional sense, the Prisoner is less free than the Freeman as he is locked away and thus unable to pursue his goals. However, it is for Sartre that both the Prisoner and the Freeman are equally free. Sartre sees it that there are no shades of freedom, the limit of freedom is merely itself. Freedom under this understanding is freedom of choice, focused instead on one's freedom to determine one's own goals, rather than freedom in conducting oneself. This means that the Prisoner is as free as the Freeman as both are able to set projects for themselves, and because the possibility of completion has no part in determining one's freedom; the Prisoner is …show more content…
For example, once The Great War became WW1 it’s perspective cannot be changed back. Once WW2 had happened, it became illogical to not understand WW1 as WW1. This is significant because this is a restriction on one's freedom, as one is not able to conceive of the historical event in any other way. What's more, we can consider the issue with Sartre's ontological conception of freedom. Sartre maintains the idea that one has freedom, despite any apparent restrictions on one's freedom. Even an individual living under a tyrannical totalitarian regime, according to Sartre, is free. He states that “the slave in chains is as free as his master” (Sartre, 2003 p. 570). The issue with this is that by accepting a purely ontological definition of freedom, this means accepting that one cannot have true freedom. One is not free from the place in society in to which they are born, even if Sartre insists that one is free to choose the significance of their actions; some actions are not a choice at all and this is a restriction on one's freedom, the acceptance of unchangeable facticities is an acceptance of the lack of freedom in existence. This leads to Sartre's account of the aspects of freedom appearing as empty rather than a conclusive explanation of how one can be free despite facticity. For example, imagine a man who is told he will die in 10 minutes, he

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