Man exists, turns up, appears on the scene and only afterwards, defines himself

What did Jean-Paul Sartre mean by:

Man exists, turns up, appears on the scene and only afterwards, defines himself


This quote is a reflection of the existentialist philosophy, which posits that existence precedes essence. In simpler terms, it means that a person is born without any pre-determined nature or purpose; they exist first and then define themselves through their actions, decisions, and experiences.

"Man exists, turns up, appears on the scene" signifies the birth or arrival of a person in the world. They are here, but they have not yet formed their identity or purpose. The "only afterwards, defines himself" part of the quote implies that it’s only after existing, experiencing, and interacting with the world that a person starts to define who they are or who they want to be.

This idea is not just a philosophical musing, but it can be practically applied in our lives, especially in the context of personal development. It encourages us to take charge of our own lives and identities, rather than letting societal norms or expectations define us.

In today’s world, where we are often subjected to immense pressure to conform to certain standards or fit into specific roles, this quote can serve as a reminder that we have the power to define our own identities. It underscores the importance of personal experiences, choices, and actions in shaping who we are.

For instance, instead of accepting the career path society might expect based on our education or background, we can choose a path that aligns with our passions and interests. Or, instead of adhering to traditional gender norms, we can define our own understanding of masculinity, femininity, or non-binary identity.

In essence, this quote encourages us to be active participants in our own lives, to make conscious choices, and to define ourselves based on our own terms. It’s a call to self-discovery, self-definition, and personal growth, reminding us that we are not merely products of our circumstances, but the architects of our own identities.

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