Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It posits that humans exist first and then create their own meaning and purpose in life. In 1946, Jean-Paul Sartre, a prominent existentialist philosopher, delivered a lecture titled “Existentialism Is Humanism,” where he articulated the core argument of existentialism as it relates to humanism.

Sartre’s lecture aimed to respond to the criticisms of existentialism as a pessimistic and nihilistic philosophy that denies the existence of objective values and norms. He argued that existentialism is, in fact, a form of humanism that affirms the value and dignity of human beings.

One of the key arguments of Sartre’s lecture is that humans are condemned to be free. By this, he means that humans are not predetermined by nature or God to have a specific essence or purpose.

Instead, they are free to choose their own values and goals in life. This freedom can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, as it entails taking responsibility for one’s choices and actions.

Sartre also argued that there is no inherent meaning or purpose in life. Humans must create their own meaning through their choices and actions. This means that individuals must make ethical decisions based on their own values rather than relying on external sources such as religion or tradition.

Another important aspect of Sartre’s argument is his rejection of essentialism. Essentialism posits that there are fixed essences or natures that define individuals or groups.

According to Sartre, this view denies human freedom and reduces individuals to mere objects with predetermined roles. Instead, he emphasized the importance of individual existence over essence.

Sartre concluded his lecture by affirming the importance of solidarity among humans. While each individual is fundamentally alone in their choices and existence, they also share a common humanity with others. This recognition of shared humanity can lead to empathy and compassion for others.

In summary, the core argument of “Existentialism Is Humanism” is that humans are free to create their own meaning and purpose in life. This freedom entails taking responsibility for one’s choices and rejecting external sources of meaning.

Additionally, Sartre rejected essentialism and emphasized the importance of individual existence over essence. Finally, he affirmed the importance of solidarity among humans based on a shared humanity.