1. EXISTENCE PRECEDES ESSENCE. "Freedom is existence, and in it existence
precedes essence." This means that what we do, how we act in
our life, determines our apparent "qualities." It is not that
someone tells the truth because she is honest, but rather she defines herself
as honest by telling the truth again and again.
I am a professor in a way different than the way I am six feet tall, or
the way a table is a table. The table simply is; I exist by defining
myself in the world at each moment.
2. SUBJECT RATHER THAN OBJECT. Humans are not objects to be used by God
or a government or corporation or society. Nor we to be "adjusted"
or molded into roles --to be only a waiter or a conductor or a mother
or worker. We must look deeper than our roles and find ourselves.
3. FREEDOM is the central and unique potentiality which constitutes us as
human. Sartre rejects determinism, saying that it is our choice how we respond
to determining tendencies.
4. CHOICE. I am my choices. I cannot not choose. If I do not choose, that
is still a choice. If faced with inevitable circumstances, we still choose
how we are in those circumstances.
5. RESPONSIBILITY. Each of us is responsible for everything we do. If we
seek advice from others, we choose our advisor and have some idea of the
course he or she will recommend. "I am responsible for my very desire
of fleeing responsibilities."
6. PAST DETERMINANTS SELDOM TELL US THE CRUCIAL INFORMATION. We transform
past determining tendencies through our choices. Explanations in terms of
family, socioeconomic status, etc., do not tell us why a person makes the
crucial choices we are most interested in.
7. OUR ACTS DEFINE US. "In life, a man commits himself, draws his own
portrait, and there is nothing but that portrait." Our illusions and
imaginings about ourselves, about what we could have been, are nothing but
8. WE CONTINUALLY MAKE OURSELVES AS WE ARE. A "brave" person is
simply someone who usually acts bravely. Each act contributes to defining
us as we are, and at any moment we can begin to act differently and draw
a different portrate of ourselves. There is always a possibility to change,
to start making a different kind of choice.
9. OUR POWER TO CREATE OURSELVES. We have the power of transforming ourself
10. OUR REALITY AND OUR ENDS. Human reality "identifies and defines
itself by the ends which it pursues", rather than by alleged "causes"
in the past.
11. SUBJECTIVISM means the freedom of the individual subject, and that we
cannot pass beyond subjectivity.
12. THE HUMAN CONDTION. Despite different roles and historical situations,
we all have to be in the world, to labor and die there. These circumstances
"are everywhere recognisable; and subjective because they are lived
and are nothing if we do not live them.
13. CONDEMNED TO BE FREE. We are condemned because we did not create ourselves.
We must choose and act from within whatever situation we find ourselves.
14. ABANDONMENT. "I am abandoned in the world... in the sense
that I find myself suddenly alone and without help.
15. ANGUISH. "It is in anguish that we become conscious of our freedom.
...My being provokes anguish to the extent that I distrust myself and my
own reactions in that situation."
1) We must make some choices knowing that the consequences will have profound
effects on others (like a commander sending his troops into battle.)
2) In choosing for ourselves we choose for all humankind.
We limit ourselves to a reliance on that which is within our power, our
capability to influence. There are other things very important to us over
which we have no control.
17. BAD FAITH means to be guilty of regarding oneself not as a free person
but as an object. In bad faith I am hiding the truth from myself. "I
must know the truth very exactly in order to conceal it more carefully.
(There seems to be some overlap in Sartre's conception of bad faith and
his conception of self-deception.)
A person can live in bad faith which ...implies a constant and particular
style of life.
18. "THE UNCONSCIOUS" IS NOT TRULY UNCONSCIOUS. At some level
I am aware of, and I choose, what I will allow fully into my consciousness
and what I will not. Thus I cannot use "the unconscious" as an
excuse for my behavior. Even though I may not admit it to myself, I am aware
and I am choosing.
Even in self-deception, I know I am the one deceiving myself, and
Freud's so-called censor must be conscious to know what to repress.
Those who use "the unconscious" as exoneration of actions believe
that our instincts, drives, and complexes make up a reality that simply
is; that is neither true nor false in itself but simply real.
19. PASSION IS NO EXCUSE. "I was overwhelmed by strong feelings; I
couldn't help myself" is a falsehood. Despite my feelings, I choose
how to express them in action.
20. ONTOLOGY: The study of being, of what constitutes a person as a person,
is the necessary basis for psychoanalysis.