Potentialities

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

'“Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realises himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is.” Hence we can well understand why some people are horrified by our teaching. For many have but one resource to sustain them in their misery, and that is to think, “Circumstances have been against me, I was worthy to be something much better than I have been. I admit I have never had a great love or a great friendship; but that is because I never met a man or a woman who were worthy of it; if I have not written any very good books, it is because I had not the leisure to do so; or, if I have had no children to whom I could devote myself it is because I did not find the man I could have lived with. So there remains within me a wide range of abilities, inclinations and potentialities, unused but perfectly viable, which endow me with a worthiness that could never be inferred from the mere history of my actions.” But in reality and for the existentialist, there is no love apart from the deeds of love; no potentiality of love other than that which is manifested in loving; there is no genius other than that which is expressed in works of art. The genius of Proust is the totality of the works of Proust; the genius of Racine is the series of his tragedies, outside of which there is nothing. Why should we attribute to Racine the capacity to write yet another tragedy when that is precisely what he did not write? In life, a man commits himself, draws his own portrait and there is nothing but that portrait."

Jean-Paul Sartre, excerpted from Existentialism is a Humanism

Comments

@ish said…
as a matter of fact i hav been thnking abut this quote jst the othr day.
well i dont thnk this should be the case tht othrs judge us on the basis of wht we hav done..cause we all are social animal..[exceptionall cases not mentioning :)]nd its in our nature to make mistakes nd we cant it ignore it for long.
othrs hav no rite to judge on the basis of wht we HAVE already done ..they should judge us on the basis on wht we ARE doin now at the moment.
@ish said…
and ys i quite agree with its frst part..cause thts wht i often find myself doin..judging myself whether im able or not on the mere facts tht whethr i can or not do it.