Free Essay on the Essence of Man According to Plato and Sartre

Published: 2022-10-24
Free Essay on the Essence of Man According to Plato and Sartre
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophers Plato
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 576 words
5 min read

According to Plato, the essence of man is something that was not easy to come by, and he had a thoughtful struggle with identifying the real issues that made a man unique when compared to other creatures. At some point, Plato was sure that he had discovered the best definition of the same, as he termed man as a biped that has no feathers. That definition was initially accepted, but all went wrong when a student of Plato decided to name a chicken that had no feathers as the man of Plato. In that case, philosophers subscribing to existentialism do agree with the fact that man can be compared to a chicken that has its wings plucked. They disagree with the thought that man is better described using essences that isolate the real person from beleives while adhering to world abstracts. It was for that reason Sartre came up with a world system where he felt that the existence of a man was more crucial that the essence which defined him as a man (Sartre, 2012). What is of more concern is the existence of men, rather than the abstract essence that is common in defining men. That does not mean that philosophers of existentialism subscribe to the generalization of man, considering that avoiding the same is almost impossible. It is evident from the fact that Sartre stated that man as a passion that is useless, implying that he factored in the essence concern before thinking about his existence (Mart, 2012).

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In that case, from the fact that Sartre said that man is a passion that is useless implies that he was pessimistic when referring to the same. If he had meant otherwise, he would have easily stated the same without including the term "useless." As a word, useless invokes feelings of despair when one hears the same, considering that it is similar to things being futile. It is for that reason the term despair is prevalent when referring to the literature materials that are concerned with existentialism. Passions that are useless cannot result in having something that one can brag about, and are therefore futile. It is therefore also true to state that they lack any significant meaning in life (Mart, 2012). In his stern conclusive statement, Sartre denotes that anything that man is concerned about, including the most eloquent aspirations that one may have, do not bear any importance in life, as they are "useless."

From Sartre, the life of a human is equal to a joke that is cosmic, considering that it is one that has no significant meaning. Since it is a cosmic joke, the universe that is indifferent and impersonal is regarded as being the comedian. It is for that reason Sartre feels that the situation would be different if the universe was hostile. The motive behind this explanation is the fact that with hostility, man would be dealing with a foe that required extinguishing or convinced to act in a manner that was more charming and friendly (Mart, 2012). However, that is not the case considering that the universe as it is does not care based on the fact that it is impersonal. Even with that, it is clear that Sartre was pessimistic with existentialism.


Kaufmann, W. (2016). Existentialism From Dostoevsky To Sartre. Pickle Partners Publishing.

Mart, C. (2012). Existentialism in two plays of Jean-Paul Sartre. International Journal Of English And Literature, 3(3). doi: 10.5897/ijel11.042

Sartre, J. (2012). Being and nothingness. New York: Washington Square Press.

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