A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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Sartre Advises a Student

[description]: A student comes into Jean-Paul Sartre's office.

Student: "Sartre, please, I need your advice with a terrible dilemma."
Sartre: "What is it?"

Student: "My brother was killed in the war, and I wish terribly to join the army and avenge him. But I live alone with my mother, she lives only for me - if i were to leave her it would plunge her into despair."

Student: "How do i weigh my obligation to my mother, compared to my obligation to France?"

Student: "How can i go off to war, when my actions will serve a great cause, but my individual actions may disappear like water into sand and serve no purpose."

Student: "But how can i stay at home when others fight? Isn't the war more important? Which course is the right way to take?"

Student: "can you please advise me, what should i do?"
Sartre: "Yes: choose freely, for the choice is yours alone."

Student: "Uh...that's it? But that's nothing."
Sartre: "You are radically free to do either one."

Student: "But i already know i'm free. Just saying “you are free” isn't advice, it's just describing why it is a dilemma. I could get that from a fortune cookie!"

Sartre: "Sorry kid, office hours are over."
[sign on the wall]: Office hours: never bother me.

In Existentialism is a Humanism, Sartre recounts a story of a student who asked him for advice. As the comic says, the student was torn between two paths, to stay with his mother, or to join the army and fight the Germans to avenge his brother and protect France. Sartre explain that no moral system, be it religious or philosophical, could tell him what to do. Abstract systems were too divorced from reality to answer such concrete, human questions. Sartre advised the student, rather vaguely, that he was free, and only he could make the decision - he could not defer to a system to make it for him. Sartre also claimed that the student chose him specifically knowing that he would give such advice. If the student had wanted Christian advice, he would have gone to a priest, etc.

We can imagine, of course, that the student didn't specifically seek out Sartre because he knew ahead of time that Sartre would advice him that the choice was his alone, and instead actually wanted some kind of concrete moral advice from a his philosophy professor. Perhaps, in this case, he would found to the advice of "well you are free so the choice is yours" to be quite lame.

In Existentialism is a Humanism, Sartre recounts a story of a student who asked him for advice. As the comic says, the student was torn between two paths, to stay with his mother, or to join the army and fight the Germans to avenge his brother and protect France. Sartre explain that no moral system, be it religious or philosophical, could tell him what to do. Abstract systems were too divorced from reality to answer such concrete, human questions. Sartre advised the student, rather vaguely, that he was free, and only he could make the decision - he could not defer to a system to make it for him. Sartre also claimed that the student chose him specifically knowing that he would give such advice. If the student had wanted Christian advice, he would have gone to a priest, etc.

We can imagine, of course, that the student didn't specifically seek out Sartre because he knew ahead of time that Sartre would advice him that the choice was his alone, and instead actually wanted some kind of concrete moral advice from a his philosophy professor. Perhaps, in this case, he would found to the advice of "well you are free so the choice is yours" to be quite lame.

Philosophers in this comic: Jean Paul Sartre
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