Foundationless Freedom and Meaninglessness of Life in Sartre's: Being and Nothingness

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Abstract:

This paper critically examines Sartre's argument for the meaninglessness of life from our foundationless freedom. According to Sartre, our freedom to choose our values is completely undetermined. Hence, we cannot rely on anything when choosing and cannot justify our choices. Thus, our freedom is the foundation of our world without itself having any foundation, and this renders our lives absurd. Sartre's argument presupposes, then, that although we can freely choose all our values we have a meta-value that we cannot choose: that values are acceptable only if they are justified by some independent factor rather than by one's free choice. I argue that we need not accept this presupposition: subjectivists may well choose to be 'proud subjectivists' who are pleased with, rather than ashamed by, their subjectivism. Indeed, many subjectivists, including those considering the meaning of life – for example, Harry Frankfurt and Brooke Alan Trisel – adopt this position.

Keywords: ABSURD; CHOICE; FREEDOM; JEAN-PAUL SARTRE; MEANING OF LIFE; OBJECTIVISM; SUBJECTIVISM

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ssi.2012.180101

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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