The Nothingness of Jean-Paul Sartre

Getting freedom and existence wrong

Douglas Giles, PhD
Inserting Philosophy

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Ce n’est pas Jean-Paul Sartre

Some material in this article is from my philosophy textbook, How We Are and How We Got Here: A Practical History of Western Philosophy.

Bigot, misogynist, and antisocial cynic, Jean-Paul Sartre is an unlikely hero. Yet, Sartre is a hero to some, and not just to bigots, misogynists, and antisocial cynics. He was brave in speaking openly about what few have the courage to even contemplate. For what he contributed to philosophy, he deserves praise. And yet, Sartre was so woefully, tragically mistaken.

It is difficult to tweeze out the elements of Sartre’s philosophy, especially any positive elements. The saying “life’s a bitch and then you die” is a flippant but not entirely inaccurate summary of Sartre’s philosophy. He was also influenced by Søren Kierkegaard but with even more fear and trembling.

Martin Heidegger’s principal book was Being and Time (1927), but Sartre’s principal book was Being and Nothingness (1943, written after he read Heidegger’s book), and this gives a hint as to…

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Douglas Giles, PhD
Inserting Philosophy

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://dgilesauthor.com/