Question 3: Reconstruct (not copy and paste!) Sartre’s argument stating that existence comes before essence and explain how this is related to his thesis that God is of no consequence and we, humans, are abandoned. (Since the topics of abandonment and freedom are very big topics in existentialism and in Sartre’s philosophy focus on how Sartre argues about it in the text.)

Suggestions: Since this question is based on the text; it’s a matter of following the text itself and making sure that you understand all the connections Sartre makes between the human condition and God, and the human condition and abandonment, respectively. You can talk about the paper knife example, or the cogito principle; anything that illustrates Sartre’s understanding of existence preceding essence. As far as why humans are abandoned, and how God fits into all this, you can propose (and justify!) that God, existing or not, has nothing to do with the human condition. The human condition is one that presupposes responsibility for the other and this comes with certain sentiments (such as despair, for example). Explain why that is the case. You can also link abandonment to Sartre’s notion of freedom.

Question 4: In the Introduction to The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir makes the striking and startling declaration that “women lack concrete means for organizing themselves into a unit which can stand face to face with the correlative unit. They have no past, no history, no religion of their own; and they have no such solidarity of work and interest as that of the proletariat.” Explain in full what she means by that and what follows from this for women. Does Simone de Beauvoir offer a solution to women’s emancipation? In other words, does she think that women are doomed to subordination, or does she believe that freedom is a possibility for them?

Suggestions: The most important thing for this question is to stay close to the text and show familiarity with it. Avoid general rants about the woman’s condition today, the general history of woman’s emancipation or gender equality. Simone de Beauvoir is a philosopher, before anything else, and her book is a work of philosophy, not a political manifesto. She is not a politician and politicizing her comments about the gender struggles will not do here. Also, avoid falling into the trap of presentism (imposing the present on the past). Stick to the text and the philosophical reasons behind de Beauvoir’s claim. Her claim is as startling as it is insightful. Try to tease out those insights and make sure that you remain as neutral as possible to how you actually feel about the issues raised.