Our past influences but does not determine

When I taught in a school of social work, one of the things I found a little unsettling was the propensity of some students to over-emphasize the effects of a person’s contest (i.e., a person’s past circumstances) on their present situation.

I thought about this recently when I came across this:

“[A]ccording to Sartre, one can say that the past offers certain possibilities for the present and the future, but not that these possibilities determine me in a necessary fashion or that I can derive my identity from them.”

Philippe Van Haute, Against Adaptation. This quote comes from endnote 26 in chapter 2.

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