This paper "French Philosopher Sartre on Consciousness" focuses on the philosopher and political thinker who was perhaps the most documented and written about of his time. A prolific author, his work always expounding on the particular turn his concepts have taken in the course of his history. …
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Articles about him ranged from speculations about the trauma which led to his philosophies in later life to what some refer to as his "God problem." His importance lies, however, in the defence of his stand on the absolute right of humans to freedom and responsibility. (O'Donohoe, 2005)
Sartre wrote about many things, mainly the essence of what it is to be human. Later on in his life, he became interested in political philosophy and dabbled in the teachings of Marxism. However, among his earliest concepts and for which he based his theory of "existentialism" involved the structure and nature of human consciousness, which he eventually attempted to explain in what is considered his masterpiece, "Being or Nothingness." (Onof, 2006)
In the text, he discloses that consciousness is always contained within a physical structure. (O'Donohoe) It cannot be free-floating not can it exist after its physical structure ceases to be. This is the point in which he posits that there is no Supreme Being who created man and is the source of all moral values. Since he claims that consciousness exists for only as long as its physical structure, there is no afterlife in which the soul will return to this Supreme Being after death and receive its just rewards. Sartre defended this position of physical finality with varying success throughout his career.
Without an object to define itself, consciousness would not be possible
It is always positive and transparent, not to be confined within limits of perceptions of what it should be or what it had been or what it is not. The essence of consciousness relies solely on its existence, as it is and simply as is. The appearance of consciousness is at the same time as its essence. There are no hidden meanings or ambiguities.
Clearly, this correlates to the identification of what it is not, for if it is a constantly changing process, how can it be defined for what it is Just as an example to further explain his view, think of water changing form from liquid to gas to solid and so on. Consciousness is not the water nor is it the different forms it takes but rather the process from one state to the next. If we follow this reasoning, logically the essence being is continuously in flux, always in the process of becoming not what it had been.
Consciousness is not a state of being but an activity, a process of going towards something. It is the activity that defines consciousness, not consciousness in itself. Sarte explains that it is not the end result if there ever will be one that denotes consciousness, nor is it the present state of a being.
Rather, consciousness is the constant process that takes place within one's self. In which situation, it is safe to say that based on his concept, consciousness is fluid, and cannot be fixed or placed in a state of inertia. Let us explain further that by a process we do not mean a single procedure repetitively done but an ever-changing process, and always by choice.
This is another important concept Sartre maintains throughout his life, that humans are free to choose. The awareness presents the being with choices at every turn and each choice carries a corresponding consequence.
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(French Philosopher Sartre on Consciousness Essay)
“French Philosopher Sartre on Consciousness Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/philosophy/1507477-sartres-view-on-consciousness.
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