The quote “Man is condemned to be free” is from the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. This statement encapsulates one of the fundamental themes in Sartre’s philosophy.
In existentialism, freedom is a central concept. Sartre argues that humans have radical freedom, meaning that we are not determined by any external factors or pre-defined essence. Unlike inanimate objects, animals, or even plants, humans lack a fixed nature or predetermined purpose. This radical freedom allows us to make choices and shape our own existence.
However, this freedom also comes with a burden, which Sartre refers to as “condemnation.” Since we are not bound by any predetermined essence or purpose, we are solely responsible for creating our own meanings and values. This burden can be intimidating and anxiety-inducing, as it means that we must take responsibility for our actions and the consequences they entail.
In other words, humans are “condemned” to create their own essence through their actions and choices. There is no external authority or objective moral framework to guide us, leaving us in a state of uncertainty and responsibility. This idea of radical freedom and its attendant burden is a core aspect of Sartre’s existentialist philosophy, and it challenges individuals to grapple with the complexities of their existence and the choices they make.