Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence

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4 November 2015

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Existence precedes essence


            As much as Existentialism is a philosophy, existentialist emphasize on artistic creation as a crucial aspect of existence. As an outcome, Sartre often chose to combine both points of aesthetic concerns and that of philosophy in short stories and novels. Unlike the fiction of Sartre, the philosopher fiction is not mythical or allegorical, but it is a straightforward plan of his philosophical arguments. The dependence on artistic creation to understand oneself becomes Roquentin’s final cure to his Nausea. Rather than anguish, the inspirational piece of music gives him a reason to confront the bare existence of things and put them down in his novel.

            Sartre slogan of existence precedes essence serve to bring out what is most distinctive of existentialism. The idea that non-formal account of what it relates to be human, can be given since its meaning is decided and existing by itself. Existence in a situation is self-making in itself, it constitutes that identity is formed neither by nature nor by culture (Sartre 95). The main theme of Sartre’s novel results from his belief that existence precedes essence. Rouquentin unsuspectingly gives a clear distinction between the intimate objects or a being in itself and the consciousness of the human. For instance, when he gives a stance on the purple bartender’s suspenders, he is distraught to find that they appear blue in some parts. Sartre’s feeling of Nausea comes from moments like this when he is forming the essence or of the characteristics of the objects he glances at. He understands that color is an idea and purple is just a term that is used to describe something that Sartre has never come across in his entire life. He concludes that the essence of the objects is comforting that hides the unthinkable truth of existence. In effect, while having a close look at the Chestnut root tree, Roquentin finds out that the root first existed. Sartre attributed an essence to it by terming it as black (43).

            Every new discovery that Roquentin makes continues from the epiphany that existence precedes essence. He thinks that the presence of overwhelming and fearful presence of existence is too much for individuals to handle. People ignore it and hide it by only seeing its essence. He therefore identifies the power of a being for itself to choose its own essence, just as the object decides what color it is. Because of the choice, Sartre strongly believed that the human race was fundamentally free to do whatsoever they felt to do regardless of the restricted mandate they had before. Indeed Roquentin continued to state that he wants freedom, freedom that will make things around the world become a reality. But with the freedom, it goes a great deal by the responsibility of one’s action. Sartre strongly believed that the staggering responsibility makes people anxious and inevitably leads one to a path that denies them to a world with no freedom and responsibility (Sartre 123). They total perceive themselves as total slaves on the hands of humans. For instance, Anny is afraid to take an action because she does not want to have the responsibility of breaking with her past. Responsibility condemns people to be free an earlier explanation by Sartre.

            The broader themes of free will and time will also recur Roquentin’s search for the cause his Nausea. The inner desire to be self-sufficient and free provokes Roquentin’s to abandon the research that he started on the Marquis de Rellebon. He finds out that he has been attempting to resuscitate Rollebon in order to have justification on his own existence. He decides that the past life does not have meaning and that the concept does not exist. Instead, Roquentina embraces the present life as the only where things started and existed. He thinks that human emphasize their past in order to take a break from existence. For instance, when Anny terms herself in relation to the human Roquentin used to be. As Sartre explained earlier in the novel, this is an example of faith that is unacceptable to the human fraternity (65). Anny rejects her freedom to choose how own essence because the responsibility means a lot to her. She believes responsibility comes with the belief she has had during the past and present life (Sartre 45). Responsibility provides a vast array of opportunities that makes her feel recognized in the community. Roquentin also thinks that people give tales so as to put time in a standard measure and linear order, trying to grasp time by the tail. In effect while studying Rollebon, Roquentin not only deceived his own self by thinking

            Rollebon was like him, but he could clearly understand and evaluate himself through the intermediary of a dead human being. Roquentin’s past rejection causes him to embrace the existence of the future and present. Roquentin’s wants to be successful in whatever he does not looking back at what hindered him at one point not to achieve his desired dreams and goals. He constantly repeats he exists and mocks the multitude of people in Bouville who in turn refuse to recognize their own existence (Sartre28). Later, he discovers existence is a deflection of his own self. He realizes that existence in nature is contingent and that there is no necessary reason for anything to come into existence. If evolution was to take place over and over again, the results would be completely different. Instead of the reasons, he found nothingness, an empty space that paradoxically comes into existence. Sartre uses the theme to criticize the individualism emphasis on the rational world with human existence as its main point of focus and reason (78). It is seen that human beings are accidental offspring’s to nature. Rather than surrender to nausea, Roquentin confronts his existential anguish in the broader face of nothingness. Although it cannot be clearly seen by him, nothingness is a force that makes up a purposeless reality which usually inspires action. Artistic creation emerges as a way of survival. Sartre asserts his freedom in defining his own essence by putting words down to the novels.

            It is well examined that Jean Paul Sartre notion of the absurd, it is clearly seen in his philosophy and novel (76). The connection show that Sartre takes certain characteristics arises from the character Anny the Camus does the same to the character of Roquentin. The analogy used is circumscribed as a basic tenet of existentialist humor which consists of the historical irony. The powerful and distinct shape of Sartre literature and life certainly simplifies and reinforces the basic tenet. The theme exhibited by Sartre clearly helps one to understand the connection of the real world and that of existence precedes essence.


Sartre, Jean Paul. Nausea. New York: New Directions Publishing, 2013. Print

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"Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence" StudyScroll, 4 November 2015,

StudyScroll. (2015). Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 1 June, 2023]

"Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence" StudyScroll, Nov 4, 2015. Accessed Jun 1, 2023.

"Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence" StudyScroll, Nov 4, 2015.

"Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence" StudyScroll, 4-Nov-2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 1-Jun-2023]

StudyScroll. (2015). Sartre, Jean Paul. Existence precedes essence. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 1-Jun-2023]

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