Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

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Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). "What is Existentialism?". (1946). Novels Nausea (1938) The Age of Reason (1945); The Reprieve (1947); Troubled Sleep (1950) (3 parts of a 4-part series) Plays The Flies (1943) No Exit (1944) The Respectful Prostitute (1947)
Jean-Paul Sartre(1905-1980)"What isExistentialism?"(1946)NovelsNausea (1938)The Age of Reason (1945); The Reprieve (1947); Troubled Sleep (1950) (3 parts of a 4-part series)PlaysThe Flies (1943)No Exit (1944)The Respectful Prostitute (1947)The Condemned of Altona (1960)Biography & literary criticismBaudelaire (1947)Saint Genet (1952)The Idiot of the Family (on Flaubert) (1971)Autobiography: Words (1963)Philosophical worksThe Transcendence of the Ego (1937) The Psychology of the Imagination (1940)Being & Nothingness (1943)“Existentialism is a Humanism” (1946)Search for a Method (1957)The Critique of Dialectical Reason (Vol. I, 1960; Vol. II, 1985)(some of)Sartre’s WritingsIn 1964,Sartre was awardedthe Nobel Prizein literature,which he REFUSED on the grounds that such honors could interfere with a writer's responsibilities to his readers.Sartre did not believe in “bourgeois marriage,” buthe had an intimate life partnership from the late 1920s until his death in 1980 with . . . .Simone de Beauvoir(1908-1986)She, too, was an exponent of Existentialism. Among her numerous works are The Mandarins (1955), a novel; The Second Sex (1949–50), a profound analysis of the status of women; The Coming of Age (1970), a study of society's treatment of the aged; & two collections of memoirs, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958) & The Prime of Life (1960).
  • “To make oneself an object, to make oneself passive, is a very different thing from being a passive object.”
  • So, Sartre,What is Existentialism?“Existence” is Prior to “Essence”1Text, 215-217S’s “phenomenological” starting point(What is phenomenology?)An approach to reality from the standpoint of subjectivity (consciousness)If I approach reality from that point of view, what do I find?I find a difference
  • between subjects & objects,
  • between persons & things,
  • between beings that are conscious & beings that are not conscious.
  • What is the difference?Non-consciousObjects or ThingsConsciousSubjects or PersonsEssence precedes ExistenceExistence precedes EssenceFrom the subjective standpoint of individual consciousness,
  • I am not a manufactured object with a pre-conceived essence or specific use (function) (unlike, for example, a paper-cutter) (215-216),
  • nor am I a creature manufactured by God in accordance with a concept (essence) in the divine mind (216),
  • nor am I merely a particular instance of a universal human nature that precedes and determines my existence (216-217).
  • No . . . ,I exist first, & then I take on an essence through my own actions, through my own manner of existing & acting.Self-Creation &Personal Responsibility2Text, 217-219Subjects (persons) arefree,self-creating,& thereforepersonally responsible for what they create & do.Objects (things)have no freedom,are not self-creating,& thushave no responsibility for what they are or for how they function.Another distinction betweensubjects (persons) & objects (things):According to Sartre,Thus, since I freely create myself (my essence), I am responsible for my choices & actions & and what I have created.what I am (my essence) is a product of my choices & actions (my manner of existing).But Sartre also claims that . . .my choices & and my self-creationhave universal import."In choosing [for] myself,I choose [for] humanity."(219)“Therefore, I am responsible for myself and for everyone else” (219).What does Sartre mean here?Do you agree with him?According to Sartre, if I recognize
  • that I am not made to be what I am but rather freely choose my own “essence,”
  • that what I am is my own responsibility because my self is my own creation,
  • that, through my choices, I become responsible not only for myself but also for [all?] others, &
  • that I cannot look to God for guidance in this process since God does not exist,
  • then I will live a life of . . .Anguish,Forlornness,& Despair3Text, 219-228Existential Anguisha response to the burden of responsibility(219)What’s wrong with the following claims?
  • “But everyone doesn’t act that way” (in response to the question, “What if everyone acted that way?”).
  • “An angel of God or God Himself commanded me to do it.”
  • “My anguish keeps me from acting.”
  • Existential Forlornnessa response to the non-existence of GodImplications of the nonexistence of God:
  • No foundation for objective & absolute values.
  • All values are human creations.
  • Man is “condemned to be free.”
  • We are alone, with no justifications & no excuses.
  • Looking for answers
  • How to resolve moral dilemmas: A student’s struggle with conflicting moral obligations (223-6).
  • How to define the meaning of one’s life: A young priest’s interpretation of the “signs” (226-7).
  • How do these examples illustrate Sartre’s explanation of existential forlornness?Existential Despaira response to the unreliability of others(relying on what is subject to one’s own will, not on things or persons external to one’s will)A Philosophy of Action4Text, 229-231Existential SubjectivityText, 231-23456The Unavoidability of Choice& the Call of Freedom(Text, 234-235)Existentialist Humanism7Text, 235-236Finis
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