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I have been reading Aristotle's NE and a bit of Existentialism is a Humanism and was wondering how Sartre (or another existentialist) might defend his position that humans do not have some function given by our inherent biology or something else, that existence precedes essence?

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  • That is not Sartre's position, his position is that we are free to act over and above our biological functions, etc. His arguments for "radical freedom" are summarized in SEP:"Sartre argues that realism and idealism cannot sufficiently account for a wide range of phenomena associated with negation. He also draws on the direct evidence of phenomenological experience (i.e., the experience of anguish)... He contends that his complex metaphysical vision best captures and explains central aspects of human reality."
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 2 at 8:57
  • @Conifold I was more so suggesting that Aristotle thinks that humans have a function in the same way a shoemaker or a human foot has a function. Humans are distinct because of their capacity to purely reason, and this is part of their essence dictates what a good human is (one who does its function well). To me, this seems to contradict Sartre who thinks that there is no human nature, that we first exist then define ourselves in the way Aristotle has.
    – Curulian
    Commented Mar 2 at 22:23
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    Right. Sartre, and existentialists generally, believe that our radical freedom is a higher capacity, and also an urge, to "transcend" dictates of any pre-existent functions, essences and natures, that its workings explain the deep-seated existential anxiety, the spirit of contradiction, the sense of absurdity and other features of human condition that Aristotelian, Socratic and other rationalist theories miss. In other words, existence lords over essence and not the other way around.
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 3 at 4:23

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