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Sartre, Jean-Paul (1905–1980)

Jin H. Han


Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher of existentialism, was a proponent of the radical freedom of individual human beings. In his first novel, Nausea (La Nausée , 1938), he described the human experience of being troubled by the material nature of human existence. During the German occupation, his reflection on the problem of freedom and action was presented through plays including The Flies (Les Mouches , 1943) and No Exit (Huis-Clos , 1944). In his later writings, he brought his earlier interest in history to the foreground and sought to charter the path that humanity could take to embrace freedom and seek political justice. In his major work of philosophy, Being and Nothingness (L'Être et le Néant , 1943), he offered a brutally honest description of the human experience of existence. He presented human consciousness as no-thing (néant) whose shape is yet to be determined. He conceptualized two modes of existence. One may exist “for-itself” with full consciousness or may be “in-itself” as inanimate objects. He saw existence as a struggle of “for-itself against “in-itself.” He observed how “for-itself was constantly lured into being “in-itself because of the burden that came with the radical freedom of existing “for-itself.” He warned that “for-itself could be tempted to compromise its integrity in “bad faith” by seeking the comfort of being “initself.” In this book, Sartre ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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