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Posted by PJ on Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 00:47:13 :
In Reply to: SARTRE and existentialism posted by FrankDux on Friday, November 29, 2002 at 21:11:06 :
: : What exactly were Sartre's views on existentialism?
Sartre set down a his core beliefs in an essay published under a couple different titles: “Existentialism” and “Existentialism Is A Humanism.” This essay defends existentialism, as Sartre laid in down in Being and Nothingness, from the “evil” connotations popular culture had of the philosophy. The simple answer to the question: What exactly were Sartre's views on existentialism? is that Sartre’s early views were existentialism. Latter in his life he mostly abandoned this philosophy to a more Marxist orientation.
Sartre believed that man was absolutely free. This did not make man happy because his freedom produced anguish. Man used self-deception or “bad faith” to attempt to escape from his freedom but this is always doomed to fail. Consciousness (being-for-itself) is fundamentally fluid and escapes all definition. Matter (being-in-itself) is solid; it is what it is. In its every act, our consciousness seeks to define itself (that is, being-for-itself seeks to become being-in-itself) but it can never achieve this goal, which Sartre equates with the desire to become God. This is what Sartre means when he says: “Man is a futile passion.”
If you are interested in learning more I recommend Walter Kaufmann’s compilation of existentialist texts: Existentialism From Dostoevsky to Sartre. It contains the essay I mentioned earlier. This URL is also a very good resource, especially if you intend to read and understand Being and Nothingness: http://pvspade.com/Sartre/sartre.html.
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