Sartre, “Freedom and
Thesis: each of us chooses the
entire world, everything we are
and do is the result of our
choice, and thus we are each
responsible for everything in the
Some existentialist terms
for-itself: persons; beings who act according
to choices that make them who they are;
existentially free beings, those who choose
their existence and thus determine their
Bad faith: fleeing decisions rather than
making and acting on them in full
consciousness that one is choosing the
course of one’s life; inauthentic
facticity: a fact over which we have no
control; e.g., that we were born.
We humans make the world by
making things, events, situations
meaningful through our projects.
But how does this make
everything mine, how is it that
“everything which happens to
me is mine”(780b)?
Whatever my community does I
could “get out of” or withhold
my endorsement from by either
deserting the community or by
committing suicide. By
remaining I endorse what is
Objection to Sartre
Had I lived in a time when I did not
have to make this terrible choice
(e.g., join the Resistance and
sacrifice my family, or acquiesce
with the Nazi regime), I would not
have acted as I did.
Sartre’s response: I am not
separable from the epoch in
which I find myself.
“each person is an absolute upsurge at
an absolute date and is perfectly
unthinkable at another date. It is
therefore a waste of time to ask what I
should have been if this war had not
broken out, for I have chosen myself
as one of the possible meaning of the
epoch with imperceptibly led to war....
I am not distinct from this same
Sartre’s concept of freedom
Our freedom consists in the fact that
we must choose what it means to
exist and how we will continue to
exist at every moment.
1. Every situation is an opportunity
that is either made use of or
2. Hence, every situation forces us
to choose what we will make of it.
3. In this sense we are free, but our
freedom comes ultimately from
the fact of our being as a for-itself,
a being who is thrown into this
situation of being forced to
choose at every moment.
4. Hence, although we are free, we
are also anguished -- we are
always having to make difficult
choices and never allowed to shift
responsibility onto others.
• Sartre’s sense of freedom is, in
• It does not entail that there are
no forces on us which causally
determine our choices. Thus,
Sartre does not defeat