Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche


Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche are well known philosophers who have addressed the issue of free will and the surrounding world. Even though their views are somewhat different, some similarities can be found as well.



Sartre, in his concepts on freedom and responsibility, writes that all people are free, and they are responsible only for themselves. Everyone has free will to choose whatever he or she wants to do. From one point of view, this is true because people could run away if they are forced to do something they do not want. Also, a person is smart enough to find other ways of avoiding or creating a certain situation.

Nietzsche, on the other hand, writes that people are not free, and are bound by the circumstances of the world. As no one exists outside of the world, the environmental stimuli cause people to act in a certain way which later determines the outcome of their actions. This concept is also true because people have relatives, friends and social norms which make them act in a certain way by creating responsibility. These are two completely opposing views by two philosophers.

However, the similarity between the great thinkers is that they both acknowledge the actor, the person who becomes the final link in the chain of circumstances. For Sartre, the person realizes the fact that he or she has own personality and is free to do whatever he or she wants with it. Nietzsche admits that every person is an individual within a society, and even though he advocated that free will is an illusion, there is no denying that each individual is unique.


Therefore, people are free in their personality and character by adding to the greater society. Also, Nietzsche states that people try to explain the unknown by aligning it with familiar things, thereby lying to themselves. And Sartre writes that people hide behind the seeming pressure from the world and their “duty”, so to escape the fear of own choice.

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