Being and Nothingness Essay - Critical Essays

The Will and Psychoanalysis

Sartre concludes his phenomenological essay with a restatement and further elucidation of the nature and quality of human freedom, and a delineation of his program of existential psychoanalysis. Freedom is discussed in relation to the will, in relation to facticity, and finally in relation to responsibility. The will can never be the condition of freedom; it is simply a psychological manifestation of it. The will presupposes the foundation of an original freedom in order to be able to constitute itself as will. The will is derived or posited by reflective decision. It is a psychological manifestation that emerges within the complex of motives and ends already posited by the for-itself. Properly speaking, it is not the will that is free. Human existence is free. The will is simply a manifestation of humanity’s primordial freedom. Freedom in relation to facticity gives rise to the situation. The situation is that ambiguous phenomenon in which it is impossible clearly to distinguish the contribution of freedom and the determinants of brute circumstance. This accounts for the paradox of freedom. There is freedom only in a situation, and there is a situation only through freedom.

Sartre delineates five structures of the situation in which freedom and facticity interpenetrate each other: one’s place, one’s past, one’s environment, one’s fellow humans, and one’s death. Insofar as freedom always interpenetrates facticity, one becomes wholly responsible for oneself. One is responsible for everything except for the fact...

(The entire section is 628 words.)