Does Existence Precede Essence?

The notion that each of us may choose gender means that each of us can choose our sex, and more broadly it means that we can choose a vast range of sexual identities. This is individual freedom taken to a new limit, one that’s destructive of self and society.

The people who are pushing for gender fluidity want to teach children freedom of gender and freedom of sex and freedom of sexual practices and freedom of family arrangements. These ideas and others like them invade and overturn our society’s foundations. These ideas encourage improvidence and immorality. They oppose standard virtues and the building of character. They oppose sacrifice, work and love.

The philosophy behind this is Existentialism or really a bastardized form thereof.

I received an e-mail about the article on universities and schools which read in part:

“When God has been legislated (well, not exactly, Judicial fiat is the better term) out of our lower schools and laughed out of the universities, there is not only, no One keeping score. There is no One making any rules either.

“So, all rules are man-made and are up for grabs. So any ‘authority figure’ can pontificate on any subject and be seen as correct.”

This is what Ivan Karamazov says too “If God does not exist everything is permitted.” You will find no better writer on the existential question than Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novels.

Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre put it this way: “Existence precedes essence.”

In arguing against gender fluidity, one must argue against the broader existential stream from which it proceeds, or at least certain strains of existentialism. In the hands of different adherents, this philosophy leads to relativism, nihilism and the concept of a superman.

The existentialists say “Existence precedes essence”, which means first we are alive, and then we define our own being and identity. This philosophy is what’s eating away at our culture. To some, this suggests a power to perfect man and society. They are willing to use the powers of the state to accomplish this feat. To others, this philosophy suggests that we create ourselves individually. This leads to all values being equivalent. Whatever one chooses becomes okay. Everything is permitted. The individual may do anything and no one can say it’s right or wrong.

These two highly destructive directions (elevating the state and elevating the individual) are diametrically opposed, and yet they both flow from the idea that existence precedes essence.

Existentialism has no God above mankind and no beneficent God instructing man. It has no known rules by which any man can define himself. This philosophy does NOT assert that man is in the image of God, because that biblical idea means that there is a pre-determined shape or nature of humankind. In biblical thinking, there is essence prior to existence, or at least coincident with it. There is potential within each of us, but it depends on pre-existing essence. We do not create ourselves.

Existentialism is not nihilism because it accords a role to each man to define himself and create meaning to life. The existential solution to despair may include a leap of faith in God, or it may, as in Dostoevsky, be a recognition and elevation of love. He also recognized as in “Crime and Punishment” human nature and conscience. However, another path is relativism and absence of any standards, no scorekeeper or no scorecard, as it were. This is the cruder path that our society is being pushed along, and the state is doing a lot of the pushing.

Our political problem, reflected in our schools, is that the state stands over the society. The state both reflects and helps create and enforces society’s basic philosophy. Is our society God-fearing or not? The society that chooses relativism, as ours is doing, ends up in confusion and dissolution. The synonyms for dissolution are “debauchery, dissipation, decadence, dissoluteness, intemperance, immoderation, excess, profligacy, abandonment, self-indulgence, wildness.” Sodom and Gomorrah.

Freedom, part of our nature, entails making choices. We are not automatons or robots who automatically follow a programmed course called “moral”. If we had no choice or if we were forced to behave in certain ways, the word “moral” would have no meaning. We have freedom. We have freedom to go in any number of directions. There are sources of guidance. We have conscience, capacities, knowledge, instinct, intuition, pleasure and pain, emotions, imagination, will, experience, drives, goals, memory and feelings. We have other people. But, to arrive at many goals that we may seek, we will find that we cannot do without a basic belief or philosophical system that guides us toward lives of accomplishing our goals and away from destroying our lives and those of others. Man does not live by bread alone.

I am not arguing for or against belief in God here. There are highly moral people who are also agnostic and atheists. In this case, in order to defend their moralities against existentialism, they have to find some fixed point or standard just as the theists do. There will be some standards like progress, survival, family, work, goodness, etc. to which they appeal.

For example, Rothbard clearly recognized that the egalitarian idea was a revolt against NATURE. He was agnostic, we are told, but he believed in an essence being present in human beings that could not be erased. Consequently, “the egalitarian goal is, therefore, evil and any attempts in the direction of such a goal must be considered evil as well.”

The premise of the egalitarianism that drives gender madness and that seeks to tear down the traditional society of fixed morals and families is the existentialist idea that existence precedes essence. But from our freedom to choose does NOT follow the implication that we can DO anything, such as remaking human nature, choosing our sex, having a child choose a gender, building a perfect society, or building a society based upon an egalitarian ideal. Certain essences of human nature and society rule some things out. The society that nonetheless chooses to elevate these things into its guiding ideas, the society that makes these wrong, corrupt, degenerate, unholy and ungodly choices, that society will destroy itself.

Destruction follows from believing that existence precedes essence and then taking the wrong path out of the quandary that such a belief poses.


9:51 am on August 16, 2019