Think Out Loud

An invitation to debate ecology, art, human development and enlightenment

Existence without Essence

This is a brilliantly executed guest post by The Popular Front. To cultivate a greater understanding of the philosophy of alienation from modern thinkers, you might start by checking out Marx, Sartre, and Baudrillard. This blog asks: do you think the presence of capitalism in parts of our lives prevents us from creating a truly authentic, autonomous identity?

Into the Rose-Garden

I. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Maxim

sartre-endIn October of 1945, Jean-Paul Sartre gave a speech at the Club Maintenant. His remarks would become the basis of his next book, Existentialism and Humanism, published in 1946. In it, he establishes the idea of “existence precedes essence,” which would become the maxim of successive existentialist thought. This statement was a reversion of previous Christian arguments on existence, which argued God crafted an essence before one’s actual birth through a divine plan. Sartre recanted this idea and instead inverted it – rather than preceding existence, each individual is responsible for subjectively crafting one’s own essence, where he defines himself to his own liking. Thus, true “freedom” is the ability to authentically craft our own individual essence.

Sartre makes these claims of “defining our own essence” within a capitalist framework. In retrospect, our “essence” cannot be autonomously defined in an environment which manipulates desire. In…

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One comment on “Existence without Essence

  1. Pingback: Study says materialism decreases well-being | Samantha Sprole

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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