Existential nausea: can absolute freedom arise when we are free from our causes?


“Nausea has not left me, and I do not think that it will leave me easily. But I don’t see it as a problem anymore. For me, it has ceased to be a disease, a hysteria: because I feel sick.” –Jean-Paul Sartre (Nausea)

As the zest for life is lost, some of us become poets; a bit of comedy comes in and sits on the personality of most of us. How about nausea? Have you ever felt the unbearable nausea of ​​being? I am one of those who often feel this way. Maybe that’s why when I met Antoine Roquentin, the protagonist of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, I was able to get along with him directly.

Antoine is a man who is increasingly disgusted with his own existence. Since he is tired of life, he just tries to pass the time somehow. For example, he eats to pass the time, although he is not hungry. He is not enthusiastic about everything he does. The decisions he continues to make only increase his passivity. Antoine’s constant nausea causes him to reevaluate himself, his beliefs and outlook on life. I always find it necessary to look at his life before and after the crisis. In this article, I propose to take you on a short journey about our nausea.

Thanks to Sartre’s 1938 novel, the word nausea has become the primary term for describing the pain of existence. With this word, your hero, Antoine Roquentin, describes the illness he feels when he realizes that behind all the beautiful words with which he describes the world, there is a rude, naked existence that does not care about him and everything he does. We inherited it from him.

Antoine’s emotional outburst makes it impossible for him to define who he is; makes him doubt his existence and the reality of his experiences. Our hero comes to the brink of insanity because of the isolation that he imposes on himself. But Jean-Paul Sartre does a wonderful thing and shows through his writings how the path through this madness can lead to liberation.

Antoine is someone who trusts other people more than himself and justifies his life by the presence and approval of others, even if he doesn’t know them personally. When he cannot do this, he feels miserable, his rights are taken away, and he feels as if he has lost a part of himself. He struggles with irreparable hopelessness. When he decides to renounce the past and accept the meaninglessness of his existence, then he begins to rise from the bottom. Instead of rationalizing his life by studying the lives of others and entering into meaningless relationships for acceptance, he chooses to create something new and become the cause of his own existence. To take an active part in his existence after despair is perhaps the best decision he ever made. The joy and productivity of our hero’s life increases as his need for the approval of others decreases.

Jean-Paul Sartre shows us our reflection when he paints his characters. Without a full coverage of life, it just reminds him how we live exponentially, we get married because it’s accepted and approved, we haphazardly parent. This tells us that most of us only accumulate knowledge and experience, we tirelessly tell the same stories, we live, but in fact we always breathe the past. He says that our wisdom is actually our enemy, as it prevents us from living life to the fullest and traps us in the past.

While writing Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre also discovered some of the philosophical ideas that made him one of the most famous philosophers of the 20th century. The essence of this book is the result of a philosophical approach known as existentialism.

According to Sartre, “Existence; It is not a defined, shaped and finished state, and it lacks the essence to betray it. The moment we think we have it, it has already taken on a new form. Existence will lose its unique nature when it is taken out of its fluid nature and tries to be defined, defined, defined and turned into knowledge, concept and theory.”

At the most basic level, we can say that existentialism believes that all information in the world is filtered through the individual. Existentialism believes that the universe doesn’t care if people are alive or not, and people are cursed for wanting a meaning to life that the world can never give them. As you will notice, this philosophical thought, which I summarized from a superficial point of view, can sound quite depressing.

“Man is doomed to be free, this is necessary. This is necessary because it has not been created. He is free because when he came to earth, when he was thrown into the world, he is now responsible for all his actions.” -Jean-Paul Sartre

The central element underlying the novel and Sartre’s existentialism in general is the problem of human freedom. In one part of the novel, Roquentin says to himself:I am free now. I have no reason to liveRoquentin actually suffers when faced with his absolute freedom. Life is random, unnecessary and unexpected, and no one is truly free, including Roquentin. Although he is the only one who is aware of this situation, he is unable to benefit from this information. “He is ‘free’ only in the sense that he is not truly free; he is “alive” only in the sense that he is actually dead.”

So what do we do if existence seems so meaningless? Sartre’s existential philosophy believes in human freedom and the free will of man. “Nausea” is depressing, but it also encourages us to give meaning to our existence. Because existence has no meaning unless we dare to face our absolute freedom and rise to the challenge of taking on the following responsibilities.

According to existentialism, we as individuals have an obligation to make our lives meaningful by taking action in everything we do, even if we know it doesn’t have a deep meaning.

Like Antoine, the protagonist of Nausea, we must come out of despair. He decided to write a book as his debut; maybe I’ll knit a scarf, maybe you’ll go and plant a flower…

Anything that tires our minds and saves us from the delirium of life, however temporarily, seems like something that will help us keep going in the long run. Of course, I don’t think that the hours passing while the phone is in hand are included in this volume. After all, there is no statement about the responsibility to be there.

This approach actually has a very refreshing aspect. The idea that we make our own meaning is often quoted from the movie The Price of Slavery.“You are dealing with life or death.gives a sense of his line. This makes sense… But we must understand it.


Jean-Paul Sartre:

  • Nausea (new publications)
  • Existentialism (Say Publications)
  • Being and Nothing: An Essay on a Phenomenological Ontology (New York: Philosophical Library)
  • Roads to Freedom: The Age of Reason (Can Publishing)

You may be interested in: Self-Procrastination: Find Your Own Antidote to Break the Procrastination Habit.

Post-existential nausea: can absolute freedom arise when we are cleansed of our causes? first appeared on Uplifers.

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