Ideas from 'Existentialism and Humanism' by Jean-Paul Sartre [1945], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Existentialism and Humanism' by Sartre,Jean-Paul (ed/tr Mairet,Philip) [Methuen 1980,0-413-31300-x]].

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16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
Man is nothing else but the sum of his actions
                        Full Idea: Man is nothing else but the sum of his actions.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.41)
                        A reaction: This might be plausible if unperformed actions are included. For some people, their whole life story consists of what they failed to do.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
Man IS freedom
                        Full Idea: There is no determinism - man is free, man IS freedom. …Man is condemned to be free.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.34)
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
There are no values to justify us, and no excuses
                        Full Idea: There are no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. …We are alone with no excuses.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.296), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Bad'
                        A reaction: If there are no values or duties, why might you ever need excuses?
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / d. Subjective value
If values depend on us, freedom is the foundation of all values
                        Full Idea: Once a man has seen that values depend upon himself, he can only will one thing, and that is freedom as the foundation of all values.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.51)
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
There is no human nature
                        Full Idea: There is no human nature.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.28)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
In becoming what we want to be we create what we think man ought to be
                        Full Idea: In creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single one of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.293), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 7 'Anything'
                        A reaction: I recall this being one of my earliest thoughts about morality - that in everything we do we are all role models for the people around us. For me, that leads to virtue theory.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / d. Courage
Cowards are responsible for their cowardice
                        Full Idea: The existentialist, when he portrays a coward, shows him as responsible for his cowardice.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.42)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
When my personal freedom becomes involved, I must want freedom for everyone else
                        Full Idea: Freedom as the definition of man does not depend on others, but as soon as there is involvement, I am obliged to want others to have freedom at the same time that I want my own freedom.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.306), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 7 'Anything'
                        A reaction: Appears to be a highly Kantian sense of rational duty, and a rather odd constraint on someone whose only value is freedom. Sartre is aware that he needs an existential politics, but he's not there yet. 'Involvement' is an interesting addition to Kant.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
Existentialists says that cowards and heroes make themselves
                        Full Idea: What the existentialist says is that the coward makes himself cowardly, that the hero makes himself heroic.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.35), quoted by Christine Daigle - Jean-Paul Sartre 2.3
                        A reaction: A nice statement of the existential plasticity of the self, in opposition to the much stronger concept of human nature in Aristotle (who nevertheless believes you can acquire virtues and vices).
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
Existence before essence (or begin with the subjective)
                        Full Idea: Existentialism says that existence comes before essence - or, if you will, that we must begin from the subjective.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.26)
'Existence precedes essence' means we have no pre-existing self, but create it through existence
                        Full Idea: I take 'existence precedes essence' to mean that we do not have a pre-existing self, which organises our behaviour, but rather that we create our self as we go along, through our existence and activities.
                        From: report of Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945]) by Robin Le Poidevin - Interview with Baggini and Stangroom p.222
                        A reaction: The direct opponent of this is Aristotle, who builds his ethics on a fairly fixed human nature, but even he agrees that we mould our moral characters through our activities, in a circular way. There are not, though, infinite possibilities in mankind.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 6. Authentic Self
It is dishonest to offer passions as an excuse
                        Full Idea: Every man who takes refuge behind the excuse of his passions is a dishonest man.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.305), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 5 'Core'
                        A reaction: To say 'my passion was so strong that I was too weak to resist it' doesn't sound prima facie dishonest. Sartre's idea is more of an exhortation than a fact, and sounds rather old fashioned and puritan. Do my reasons constitutes excuses?
Existentialism says man is whatever he makes of himself
                        Full Idea: Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. This is the first principle of existentialism.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.28)
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 7. Existential Action
When a man must choose between his mother and the Resistance, no theory can help
                        Full Idea: When a young man must choose between his bereft mother and the French Resistance, Sartre says no moral theory is capable of resolving the dilemma; the man must act on his own, and in the process define his moral character.
                        From: report of Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.35-9) by Robert Fogelin - Walking the Tightrope of Reason Ch.2
                        A reaction: Fogelin agrees, but rejects Sartre's claim that all morality is like this. I agree with Fogelin. However, what I like is the idea of 'defining one's moral character' by choices, but that is because it endorses the views of Aristotle (e.g. Idea 4394).
If I do not choose, that is still a choice
                        Full Idea: If I do not choose, that is still a choice.
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.48)
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / d. God decrees morality
Without God there is no intelligibility or value
                        Full Idea: For the atheist existentialist there disappears with God all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. (Dostoevsky wrote "If God did not exist, everything would be permitted").
                        From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.33)