Absolute Responsibility for All ?

Essay by toomuchtroubleUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2003

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Responsibility for All ?

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher who believed in existentialism. He was also an atheist. He used literature to convey his message of existentialism to the public. In "III. Freedom And Responsibility" of his essay Being and Nothingness, (1943) Sartre's argument states that since there is no God, human beings must give meaning to their own lives. That we alone are the "incontestable authors of an event or of an object" (707). Absolute responsibility is "simply the logical requirement of the consequences of our freedom" (708). Sartre's argument of being mobilized in war is consistent with his theory of absolute responsibility. His theory also says there can be no regrets, no remorse and no complaining, that all our choices belong to us. Sartre's theory does not, however, say when this absolute responsibility belongs to the person. Does absolute responsibility begin from birth, age 5, 10, 15, 21? How would Sartre have reacted to the case of Daniel Scruggs and his mother? This theory does not take into account the society into which one is born and the certain oppressions placed on the individual.

Existentialism is a 20th century movement in philosophy that focuses on human existence in an everyday context. Existentialism looks at human beings existence and actual life situations. Sartre believes that since we are "condemned to be free" (707), we are responsible for making our own choices, thus we should be accepting and aware of the consequences of those choices. Absolute responsibility is the consequence of choice and freedom.

Sartre states that human existence is characterized by nothingness. Unaided by society, traditional or religious morality, there are no general or moral guidelines, thus no rules to follow. Without religion, human beings must give meaning to their own lives and accept absolute responsibility...