Home » Agnostic/Atheist » Existentialism is a Humanism – Jean-Paul Sarte 1946

Existentialism is a Humanism – Jean-Paul Sarte 1946

 Ernesto Che Guevara reunited with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, in Cuba. 1960

Ernesto Che Guevara reunited with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, in Cuba. 1960

The main reproach that religious people or theists make against atheism is that without religion or god the world would tear itself apart! That is one of the central support structures that still holds religion together, the concept that religion enforces or brings about morality in people. Also they say that religion or god gives people a purpose in life, something to strive towards. Various people have been wrestling with this concept of how to refute this argument for quite some while now, on how to show people that religion in itself does not hold you to be moral but it is you who decides to be moral or not. To show that it is by your actions and only by your actions that you define yourself and find a purpose.

Jean-Paul Sarte makes an excellent argument for the cause of Atheism and Existentialism in his ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’.  This is his famous lecture and it is widely considered one of the defining texts of the Existentialist movement. He makes an wonderful argument that human beings exist before there ever was an essence or a purpose to our life. Put simply, this means that there is nothing to dictate that person’s character, goals in life, and so on; that only the individual can define his or her essence. And by his or her choice they not only define themselves but affect all of humanity.

Click here for the original essay: Existentialism is a Humanism – Jean-Paul Sarte 1946

The material in the pdf was obtained from marxists.org, originally reproduced under the “Fair Use” provisions; I’ve formatted it into a pdf file, compatible with various e-readers such as kindle for ease of reading and access.

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4 thoughts on “Existentialism is a Humanism – Jean-Paul Sarte 1946

    • This can’t be a satisfying reason to reject religion. Sartre follows logic to reach atheism as manojbs has exhibited very well; you’ve made an ethical judgement & reject the principle on that basis.

      One thing I would like to add about the use of a phrase like “existentialist movement” (for the blogger, now), is that existentialists themselves would definitely see all of life as existentialism & not a part of a movement (that is why it had taken so long for the name to spring).

  1. I think religion is more like your Bicycle supports. There are people who learn to ride with them, and there are those who do without. Only, (with Religion) most of us dont take them off. We forget that the supports are merely tools. The goal is to ride.

    Though Religion does help some people be good, may it be for the fear of god or the prick of conscience, we still see good atheists and bad believers every day.

    Religion is not the answer. It’s just the clue.

    • Dude! That is like one of the most apt and unoffensive analogies I’ve heard!
      While its sort of right, But legislating or forcefully enforcing morality doesn’t actually make people moral. When you know that you and only you are responsible for your actions, and you don’t have a supernatural entity to either blame it on or ask forgiveness from, when the weight of your actions are completely upon you then there will be true morality.

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