Monday, December 28, 2020

Sartre and the Conflict Between Love and Freedom

For the existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre there is nothing more important than freedom. Love, for him, must be free love in the sense of free choice, both of the lover and of the lover. According to him, the relationship we have with the person we love and who loves us back cannot be a relationship of belonging in the sense that a certain object belongs to us, partly because we do not belong to the object in the same way that it belongs to us.

However, Sartre's approach to love places him in a certain problem since real, practical love is a relationship that can greatly limit our freedom and present demands to us. Thus when Sartre refers to love he does not compare before his eyes some ideal harmony of mutual complementarily but a difficult and challenging realm of contrasts and conflicts. According to Sartre, the beloved person needs the love of the spouse as well as the approval and recognition of the lover of his choices to be who he is.

However, when we accept the love of another person we risk becoming an object, a particular object articulated in terms of belonging since we adapt ourselves to the desires and expectations of the lover, which hurts our choices. Not only that, the beloved person becomes dependent on love for him and does not want it to end and for the loving person to leave him, not exactly a situation that can be called "freedom". True freedom according to Sartre is also the freedom to change, including the freedom to stop loving. That is why Sartre sees love as an unstable and dangerous realm, a kind of "gamble" on who we are. Sartre maps the dangers inherent in submissive love between sadism and the seduced. Masochism according to Sartre is a submissive submission to the expectations and desires of the lover and adapting himself to who he wants us to be, while self-cancellation. Sadism is the treatment of the beloved as an object that needs to be adapted to our needs.

Either way, when we love we are required to compromise, compromise is one of the greatest dangers to our freedom that is in constant tension with love. Sartre himself tried to apply this concept in his personal life which included the non-binding existence of several relationships in parallel, including with the important thinker Simone de Beauvoir. A person who sanctifies freedom or another case of fear of commitment? You decide.


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