The essence of existentialism is derived from the idea that one must take the freedom-giving responsibility over one’s own life and choices. What troubles many people today is this very question: what are we to be accountable for? The answer to this question can be found through the supreme idea of autonomy that is commonly known as existentialism. Existentialism was made more popular due to the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre, the idea of distorted views, the question of purpose, and the wonder of human contact.
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Undoubtedly, Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the most influential philosophical writers of the 1940s through his publication of Existentialism and Humanism, and even though these works had flaws, they inspired a flame of imagination. The basis of Sartre’s work can be most perfectly said in “The Spirit of Sartre” in the following quote: “…while we appear to ourselves as alone and struggling to make sense of things from within our own isolation, we are actually always powerfully connected…” Sartre’s works were a philosophical collection that inspired the idea of humanism and existentialism to take hold in the sense that all people are spiritually joined in some way. “Sartre showed that ‘existence precedes essence’–that all of these pre constructed forms of identity, worth, and value were actually made up…” reads another quote from “The Spirit of Sartre.” His carefully studied works enabled those who could not conform to the implied statutes set upon by society to discover themselves in a way that allowed one to become their own person.
What is more, many ideas embodied the purpose of existentialism; one of the characteristics being the thought of human reason being impotent to deal with the depths of life, which was the main principle one must acknowledge if the need of finding oneself arises. “I was…taught by word and gesture to accept that artificial world of the bourgeoisie as if it conformed to some real essence,” reads a portion of Peter Gabel’s article. This man, Peter, was convinced by those surrounding him that he must look and act a certain way, but discovered later on in life, through Sartre, that human nature is essentially flawed due to the lack of depth in the average mind that in turn causes a diminished amount of reason. In another portion of Gabel’s parchment it says, “…it was ‘bad faith’ to allow our longing for superficial security…” In this instance, the bad faith was taught to him by the narrow minded throws of humanity; if you believe what you hear, it gives temporary comfort, but never an infinite amount of self worth.
Subsequently, it is unavoidable to wonder whether or not human speech maintains it’s original purpose, because what is the point of having a conversation when the person on the receiving end of the conversation is not listening to the underlying tones? “We think we know what the problem is and we’re already preparing our answer.” explains a portion of the article, “Wise Words: Self coach … Effective listening.” This section of the article shows the undoubtable lack of care for speech when it is heard in a face-to-face atmosphere. Another section reads, “…when you believe you have understood what’s going on you can offer a tentative summary…” This particular sentence proclaims the entire purpose of communication: to understand and give input on the lives of others.
As a further thought, why is it that, as a species, we require one another’s attention in some shape or form? “An Exploration Into the Sense of Touch” by Jennifer Kennerk states, “the human being uses a much more complex system of sensory impressions in his interaction with the world than the traditional concept of five senses allows for.” While we have our five senses, our ability to go deeper than that which includes the extended sense of need for human touch. “The sense of touch provides human beings with the ability to understand their own uniqueness…” describes another section in Kennerk’s article. With the sense of touch we are able to memorize, subconsciously, the different feels of people; this causes us to crave the touch of the people we have known or even similar experiences from people we do not know.
In a summation of my thoughts, Existentialism was brought upon primarily by the influence of Sartre, the inquisitive nature of humans to wonder about contact and purpose, and the image of falsified perceptions. Jean-Paul Sartre’s works of writing were immense benefactors in the Existentialist journey. With time, humans have come to question the very essence of things they used to merely disregard. Also, we have become aware of our dulled ideals of how people should be. The birth of existentialism was beneficial to the people of today, because without it we would lack the knowing of our responsibility to the way we react to situations, and the way we expect others to react. We must embrace the essence of existentialism and humanism in order to become a more well-rounded society.
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