International Journal of European Studies

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Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom: A Critical Analysis

Received: 17 January 2023    Accepted: 22 February 2023    Published: 11 July 2023
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Abstract

Freedom is a necessary prerequisite for living, as most existentialists emphasized. A prominent existentialist, Sartre, fully appreciated the importance of freedom in helping humans lead authentic lives. In his philosophical magnum opus, Being and Nothingness, he boldly contends that human beings possess absolute freedom, meaning they are not determined by external factors or pre-existing essence, and are therefore responsible for creating their 'own' meaning and purpose in life. Admittedly, Sartre claims that man's freedom is tied to responsibility. He proposed the notion of freedom and responsibility as a moral compass for leading an authentic existence. This critical analysis explores Sartre's notion of existential freedom, focusing on its philosophical conceptions, implications, and deficiencies. This paper will properly understand Jean-Paul Sartre's notion of freedom and responsibility, starting by defining freedom in the way Sartre wants us to conceive it. This paper will examine some of the objections raised by Alvin Plantinga against Sartre's philosophy of freedom. And finally, this paper will also analyze Sartre's notion of freedom and responsibility and reveal its incompatibilities with universal morality. By critically evaluating Sartre's concept of existential freedom, this analysis aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of his existentialist philosophy and stimulate further dialogue on the nature and implications of human freedom.

DOI 10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13
Published in International Journal of European Studies (Volume 7, Issue 1, June 2023)
Page(s) 15-18
Creative Commons

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is properly cited.

Copyright

Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Science Publishing Group

Keywords

Freedom and Responsibility, Jean-Paul Sartre, Moral, Alvin Plantinga

References
[1] Sartre, J. P. (1957). The Humanism of Existentialism. In C. G. Guignon& D. Pereboom (2.), Existentialism Basic Writings (pp. 290-308). (B, Frechtman, Trans.). Indianapolis, IA: Hackett. P296.
[2] Carter, J. (2021). A Christian Perspective of Postmodern Existentialism. USA: Wipf and Stock Publishers. P61.
[3] Gosetti-Ferencei, J. A. (2020). On Being and Becoming: An Existentialist Approach to Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P12.
[4] Sartre, J. P. (2007). Existentialism is a Humanism (C. Macomber, Trans.). Yale University Press. P28.
[5] Baird, Forrest E.; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-158591-1. (3).
[6] Campbell, Gerard T. (1977) Sartre’s Absolute Freedom.” Laval Theologique et Philosophique 33, no. 1: 61-91.
[7] Toth, J. (2007). A Différance of Nothing: Sartre, Derrida and the Problem of Negative Theology. Sartre Studies International, 13 (1), 16–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23511186
[8] Maiya, J. (2017) Sartrean Self-Consciousness and the Principle of Identity Sartre Studies International Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 102.
[9] Sartre, J.-P. (2018). Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology (S. Richmond, Trans.; 1st ed.). London: Routledge. P23.
[10] Plantinga, A. (1958). An Existentialist’s Ethics. The Review of Metaphysics, 12 (2), 235-256. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20123696
[11] Bergoffen, D., ‘Sartre and the Myth of Natural Scarcity’ [Academic Article] (October 2014), Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology, 13, no. 1 (1982): 15–25.
[12] Webber J. M. (2018). Rethinking existentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[13] Antich, P. (2021) Can There Be an Existentialist Virtue Ethics? The Journal of Value Inquiry. DOI: 10.1007/s10790-021-09799-w.
[14] Smith, T., & Eshleman, M. C. (2015). A Critique of “Freedom as a Value”: Defending the Early Sartre against Moral Relativism. Sartre Studies International, 21 (2), 108–117. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24720578
[15] Alexander, Larry and Michael Moore, "Deontological Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2021/entries/ethics-deontological/
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    Elijah Akinbode. (2023). Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom: A Critical Analysis. International Journal of European Studies, 7(1), 15-18. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13

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    ACS Style

    Elijah Akinbode. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom: A Critical Analysis. Int. J. Eur. Stud. 2023, 7(1), 15-18. doi: 10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13

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    AMA Style

    Elijah Akinbode. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom: A Critical Analysis. Int J Eur Stud. 2023;7(1):15-18. doi: 10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13

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  • @article{10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13,
      author = {Elijah Akinbode},
      title = {Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom: A Critical Analysis},
      journal = {International Journal of European Studies},
      volume = {7},
      number = {1},
      pages = {15-18},
      doi = {10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13},
      url = {https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijes.20230701.13},
      eprint = {https://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/pdf/10.11648.j.ijes.20230701.13},
      abstract = {Freedom is a necessary prerequisite for living, as most existentialists emphasized. A prominent existentialist, Sartre, fully appreciated the importance of freedom in helping humans lead authentic lives. In his philosophical magnum opus, Being and Nothingness, he boldly contends that human beings possess absolute freedom, meaning they are not determined by external factors or pre-existing essence, and are therefore responsible for creating their 'own' meaning and purpose in life. Admittedly, Sartre claims that man's freedom is tied to responsibility. He proposed the notion of freedom and responsibility as a moral compass for leading an authentic existence. This critical analysis explores Sartre's notion of existential freedom, focusing on its philosophical conceptions, implications, and deficiencies. This paper will properly understand Jean-Paul Sartre's notion of freedom and responsibility, starting by defining freedom in the way Sartre wants us to conceive it. This paper will examine some of the objections raised by Alvin Plantinga against Sartre's philosophy of freedom. And finally, this paper will also analyze Sartre's notion of freedom and responsibility and reveal its incompatibilities with universal morality. By critically evaluating Sartre's concept of existential freedom, this analysis aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of his existentialist philosophy and stimulate further dialogue on the nature and implications of human freedom.},
     year = {2023}
    }
    

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Author Information
  • Department of Philosophy, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria

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