EXISTENTIALISM: Jean Paul Sartre
Atheistic Existentialism: "Atheistic existentialism...states that if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and that this being is Man...What is meant by saying that existence precedes essence? It meant that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only, afterwards defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is not something. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it."
Humans as Subjectivity: "For we mean that man first exists, that is, that man first of all is the being who hurls himself toward a future and who is conscious of imagining himself as being in the future. Man is at the start a plan which is aware of itself, rather than a patch of moss, a piece of garbage or a cauliflower; nothing exists prior to the plan; there is nothing in heaven; man will be what he will have planned to be....But if existence really does precede essence, man is responsible for what he is. Thus, existentialism' s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him."
Humans as Responsibility: "And when we say that a man is responsible for himself, we do not only mean that he responsible for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men."
"When we way that man chooses his own self, we mean that every one of us does likewise; but we also mean by that that in making this choice he also chooses all men. In fact, in creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be. To choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. We always choose the good, and nothing can be good for us without being good for all."
Bad Faith: A choice not to choose, or to pretend one had no choice but x. One chooses in order not to be responsible for one's choice. But this is impossible, no matter how one chooses one is responsible.
Humans in Anguish: "The man who involves himself and who realizes that he is not only the person he chooses to be, but also a law-maker who is, at the same time, choosing all mankind as well as himself, cannot help escape the feeling of his total and deep responsibility. Of course there are many people who are not anxious; but we claim they are hiding their anxiety, that they are fleeing from it....Anguish is evident, even when it conceals itself."
Humans in Forlornness: "When we speak of forlornness, we mean only that God does not exist and that we have to face all the consequences of this....The existentialist thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men....Neither within him or without does man find anything to cling to. He can't start making excuses for himself.
Finite Freedom: "If existence really does precede essence, there is no explaining things away by reference to a fixed and given human nature. In other words, there is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom. On the other hand, God does not exist, we find no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. So in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us. We are alone, with no excuses."
"...Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet, in other respects is free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does."
An Example: There are moments when no matter what we choose, no clear path of goodness is possible. Thinks of a young man during WWII who can either stay with his elderly mother in Paris (after her other son has been murdered by the Nazis) in order to protect and comfort her, or escape to England in order to fight with others against the Nazi's power. "As a result, he was faced with two very different kinds of actions: one, concrete, immediate, but concerning only one individual; the other concerned an incomparably vaster group, a national collectivity, but for that very reason was dubious, and might be interrupted in route. And at the same time, he was wavering between two kinds of ethics. On the one hand, an ethics of sympathy, of personal devotion; on the other, a broader ethics, but one whose efficacy was more dubious. He had to choose between the two."
Humans in Despair: "As for despair, the term has a very simple meaning. It means that we shall confine ourselves to reckoning only with what depends upon our will, or on the ensemble of probabilities which make our action possible....No God, no scheme, can adapt the world and its possibilities to my will."