What does Sartre mean when he says people are "condemned to be free"?

  • What did Jean-Paul Sartre mean when he said that because there is no creator, humans are "Condemned to be Free"?

    I don't know what Sartre himself meant, but I can see why an existence without a creator would be a curse. The existential life and the confusion that often accompanies it can be unpleasant, to say the least.

    What might you be reading/studying that may have made this concern urgent or important to you? What might you have found out already?

    That he recognises that the killing of God is a mixed blessing. That our existance isn't grounded, and we can free-fall. Compare with Heideggers being thrown in the world.

    @JosephWeissman, Sartre discusses this extensively in *Being and Nothingness*. It is also commonly studied through a more introductory work that was originally a lecture, *Existentialism as a Humanism*. It is a central idea in existentialism

    Get a dice....and roll it or follow Spinoza on the non exploitative path in pursuit of science, love and a good life...because academia is not exploitative...is it?

    At the most basic level it means that human beings are condemned to be free actors in the world forced into trying to survive. If we weren't free than our destiny would be out of our control, but since we are free we are responsible for our lives, and so live lives of anxiety.

  • Human being is freedom.

    The external world is filled with in-itself being. Consciousness is the only anomaly, and consciousness only manifests itself through human being, insofar as we are aware of it. So, the starting point for an account of human being is in the account of the being of consciousness. We know that the being of consciousness is the consciousness of being, and it will follow that the being of consciousness of humans is the consciousness of being human. This consciousness of being human entails a consciousness of consciousness, and the immediately apparent features of consciousness. Conscious is infinite which means that the options for manifestations of human consciousness are infinite. The feature of having an infinite amount of options for the manifestation of one’s consciousness is what Sartre calls freedom. So, we have determined that the human being is freedom and that humans must be aware that their being is freedom.

    This does not mean that human beings have an essence of freedom. “Man does not exist first in order to be free subsequently; there is no difference between the being of man and his being-free” (BN: 60). Freedom is the reason that human beings do not have an essence. “Human freedom precedes essence in man and makes it possible; the essence of the human being is suspended in freedom” (BN: 60). The freedom of human being manifests itself as the limitless choice of human action. No matter what the situation is, a human being can always choose to act and his action will define his being. Even in extreme situations of coercion (such as being threatened with death), a human being still has the ability to choose his action and to choose the conscious attitude with which he apprehends the world. This ability to choose is actually an inability not to choose. Sartre tells us that “we are a freedom which chooses, but we do not choose to be free” (BN: 623). We are not free beings. We are freedom itself.

    Citations refer to this translation of Being and Nothingness

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM