I like your explanation. Here is my contribution. And yet I shall
begin with an argument. I get quite uncomfortable with your stement
"Existentialism is the belief that there is
no god." Existentialism is not this. You seem to forgot how Sartre
himself defended for it in Existentialism and Humanism. He claims
there are theist ones. He, Hiedggar, Husserl and Nietzsche are the
ones who lay the basis for the secular one. The very common ground
for both kinds, however, is the idea of the precedence of existence
than essence. For this Sartre stats that the world though preceeds
in existence from human consciousness was meaningless and empty. It
is after the being-for-itself appeared that it has got its meaning
and order. Essence is the meaning of being (BN). This is why
principally existance should preced essence.
As to the main concern of being and nothingness we can begin saying
man is both being and nothingness. As a being s/he has a
consciousness that aspirs to become a thing that is posifivity and
complete in its nature (being-in-itself) as you rightly stated.
However s/he needs it without ceasing to be for-itself. There is
where the contradiction occures. In addtion, this aspiration is
itself is lack. Lack of somthing. This lack is hole.
I will continue if you are interested with this I could not continue
because of time restriction.
--- In Sartre@yahoogroups.com, "jj.hogset" <jj.hogset@...> wrote:
> This is a very interesting challenge: How do you explain
> existentialism to someone who doesn't know anything about it? What
> the essence (ironically!) of Sartrian existentialism? What a great
> way to begin a collaboration!
> This is one suggestion:
> Objects, like pens, have essence. Their essence is the quality of
> being a tool, used to write or draw. In the case of a pen, the
> intention to make a writing-tool is in effect prior to somebody's
> actually making a particular pen. Thus its essence "exists" prior
> each particular pen being made. If there is a god who rules heaven
> and earth according to his divine plan, the same would apply to
> beings; the essence of human beings precedes each individual
> it consists of fulfilling their role in the divine plan. If,
> there is no god, the "function" of each human being would be
> other than the individual's very own actions, which means that
> is no common purpose to human beings, as opposed to the sense that
> all pens exists for the purpose of writing, and there would
> be no essence to speak of. Existentialism is the belief that there
> no god. Thus, we do not know how we are supposed to act.
> is not written (no divine purpose). Tools have essences; their
> functions (or uses to human beings) are their reasons for being
> If there is no god, there is no plan relative to which man is
> defined, thus the function (or the uses) of man can not be
> preconceived. But, the individual's life, in retrospect, can be
> viewed as an attempt to define the truth about what being human
> This is the main point Sartre makes in "Existentialism is
> The main points being made in Being and Nothingness are a little
> difficult to convey. This, by the way, would make a great
> for cooperation.
> To begin with, Sartre says that the phenomena are nothing besides
> totality of their representations. Thus he contradicts the classic
> concept of "substance" which distinguishes between an object's
> necessary and coincidental properties. Sartre says that each
> phenomenon's nature is nothing else than the totality of its
> manifestations. Thus, there is no essence of electricity besides
> totality of the effects electricity has on objects. Translated to
> realm of individual human beings, this means that the essence of
> individual is nothing besides than the sum of this individual's
> Sartre calls objects "being-in-itself" since they are nothing
> them selves. A pen is identical to it self, it is just a pen, and
> is not a pen to it self, because it has no sense of self. Human
> beings, on the other hand, have a relationship to themselves. They
> are aware of their own existence, therefore they have a
> to themselves they think about themselves. Human beings are
> therefore "being-for-itself".
> Sartre claims that the basic strive for human beings is to "be"
> something, that is, finding their necessary as opposed to their
> coincidental qualities their essence. If there is no divine
> there can be no "essence" (recall that a phenomenon is nothing
> besides its totality of manifestations). Sartre calls the desire
> essence "bad faith". Does this mean that religion is bad faith? I
> honestly don't know. What he does say, however, is that at each
> every point in time, everyone experience the sense of being free
> do what they will. They then have a choice, to take responsibility
> and saying that "I chose this though it can not be justified in
> plan or in my human nature" or they can try to see themselves as
> objects with essences or pawns in the divine plan. Since being-for-
> itself experience it self, in every situation, as having a choice,
> base its decisions in its "nature" is a self-deceit, as
> the choice (free will) to something other than its freedom, is a
> If my choices follow with necessity from my nature, then I do not
> have the free will that I have the experience of having. Thus
> believing in "my nature" or "my essence" is a denial of my own
> experience, which makes it "bad faith".
> The notion of "bad faith" is very important in "Being and
> Nothingness". Especially as interpersonal relations is concerned.
> Being free is not only a burden because it makes you responsible
> everything you chose. If freedom is the "nature" of human
> what can we say human existence is? There's not really anything to
> say, as it all depends on a choice which in advance is not
> to predict. Thus it is hard to get to know one self, as there
> isn't anything to know except the ever present possibility. And
> is a possibility? It's nothing, just a potential. But the
> wants to understand it self, and is therefore driven by a desire
> make it self into a "nature" an object. But to attribute ones
> choices to one's "nature" is to flee from freedom, and the non-
> it implicates.
> There are two ways of achieving object-like being: To dominate
> someone, and thus experience oneself as objectified freedom
> the objectification of the other's freedom (the sadist), or in
> dominated, and experiencing one self as object for the other's
> subjectivity (the masochist). Both ways are ultimately futile, the
> only way to live authentic is to accept the lack one's self's
> the utter groundlessness of ones choices.