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Jean Paul Sartre The Existentialist, Sigmund Freud The Determinist, And Victor Frankenstein

2692 words - 11 pages

Human nature has been determined by many as many different things. Some believe that humans have a preexisting "essence" that account for their actions. However, an existentialist or a determinist would disagree on such a philosophy. Jean-Paul Sartre is a famous French existentialist. Not only was he an existentialist, but an atheist as well. He asserted that God does not exist, and that the only human condition is that of free choice. Sigmund Freud revolutionized unconscious drives in the 20th century and was a determinist. He believed that humans operate under subjectivity also, but with many behaviors resulting from unconscious drives. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein tested many theories on human nature. Sartre would consider some decisions made by the character Victor Frankenstein as acts of bad faith, but attribute the end result to authenticity; Sigmund Freud would attribute much of Victor Frankenstein's behavior to repressed sexual desires.Existentialists have three fundamental arguments that define them as such. One being that, in relation to other philosophies, human nature as defined in terms of universality escapes the importance of individualism and the importance of life's limitless situations. The second argument confronts the metaphysical realm of humanity. Existentialists do not place focus on "objective truth", but believe that it is subjectivity that defines human existence. Last, but most certainly not the least, the freedom in which we humans are born with determines our actions, attitudes, purposes, and values. (Haberman, Stevenson, 1998) Existentialism is a dogma that proclaims "every truth and every action implies a human setting and a human subjectivity". (Sartre, Handout, pg. 254) Jean-Paul Sartre is the most famous French existentialist (1905-1980). A key assertion in his writings centers on his rejection of the existence of God. To Sartre, the concept of God (and all that he/she stands for, aka: the commandments) is contradictory. He argues that believers of such a God would assume that without God, there would be no rules for which humans to rely upon. Nevertheless, without such rules for humans to abide by, there would be no basis for criticism of one's actions. (Haberman, Stevenson, 1998) Sartre's writings repeatedly imply these values and "rules" are "...in ourselves, in our human freedom to choose, and that there can be no external or objective justification for the values, actions and way of life that anyone chooses to adopt" (Haberman, David and Stevenson, Leslie, 1998, pg. 174 ) and that ".....nothing changes if God does not exist." (Sartre, Handout, pg. 259) The assumption here is that without God, we are still faced with ethic and moral dilemmas for which we must determine courses of action. In this way, man is condemned in life because he/she did not make the decision to live, but must do so nevertheless without the help of others to make decisions. Therefore, there is nowhere to place blame on decisions...

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