The Essence of Existentialism: Existence Precedes Essence—or Does it?

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8 Responses

  1. Robert O' Donoghue says:

    Silly little personal comments, in essence.

  2. Nissim Levy says:

    I agree that it makes no sense to suppose of existence WITHOUT essence but I disagree that existence BEFORE essence is nonsensical. The essence that follows existence is not a temporal sequence, it’s a logical sequence. Consider the number pi, its digits form a mathematical sequence, not a temporal sequence. The first digit cannot exist without the others but it precedes the others. Similarly, when existence precedes essence in the way Sartre intended, it is pregnant with its essence. The essence must emanate and I an unrealized potential within existence. We see that even when the sequence is temporal, its essence is nevertheless embedded within existence and in that sense it is not temporal.

    • Madilyn says:

      However, when you argue about Sartre’s intended sense being logical and not temporal, it can still be argued that essence precedes existence in that same sense. He means that to have essence, one must first exist, but the very act of existing as a human means that one has essence. Living, breathing, and growing are all characteristics of a living creature, as a human is, and according to Sartre’s definition, can be said to be part of our essence. How can we exist without those characteristics? At the most basic level, we must breathe to exist, and without that characteristic of a living organism, we would not be here. That isn’t something that we created ourselves or do in “bad faith” simply because we fall into the habits of other living organisms. It is a contribution to the essence vital to life.
      If you want to speak mathematically, that first digit must have the characteristics of a number to be one, and in turn, a part of a sequence of numbers. If one character of the sequence was a letter, an object of a different essence, pi would not exist as a mathematical sequence any longer.
      So when Sartre argues that at least one organism must have existed before any others in order for the rest to follow suit, even that organism is following a predetermined set of rules for a living organism that he couldn’t have made up himself, because to exist, they needed to be set by something else.

  3. hajrah says:

    i like this. alot.

  4. Adriaan Venter says:

    Man starts out as nothing. Sells combine together in a human body which is infertile as an infant. New sells develop to the point at which million sells exist. All these sells existed through the influence of the essence and existence of the development of every other sell in order for it being generated. Two in millions of sells exist with their own essence which meet not by chance and not only by the action of two people but the essence end existence of these sells itself. If one sell was in existence but in essence didn’t have the characteristics of being fertile they could not function in case of them meeting. If that sell didn’t exist, well… When it’s a match and they integrate, new sells are brought into existence each with their own individual essence. If the new sell would have had different ‘essence’ it would not exist as that specific sell. If it didn’t exist it would not have had that essence. These sells existing with their own essence predetermining an individuals existence and essence. The color of ones eyes, hear, skin
    weight, IQ, etc. Later in ones development one is brought into physical life and exist with the essence of human nature, whatever the nature of a human may be in its own capacity. Nor essence or existence alone predetermine human nature. If an individual exist in one space in time his essence may determine his action. If it existed in another space in time his actions would have been different. If he din’t appear in that space time nor would exist. Ones human nature is determined by ones existence and ones human nature is determined by ones essence none of which can ‘be’ without the other. Existence = Essence and Essence = Existence.

  5. Adriaan Venter says:

    The purpose and meaningful of life is equalitarianism.

  6. Adriaan Venter says:

    Sorry, equilibrium.

  7. Samuel B says:

    This is a gross misrepresentation of Sartre’s thought and your arguments ultimately attack a target that wasn’t even there in the first place

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