Sartre, Jean Paul: Existentialism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
However, consciousness is always consciousness “of something,” so it is defined in relation to something else, and it is not possible to grasp it within a. It is here that Camus formally introduces and fully in rare and very narrowly defined instances is political violence justified. feud with Sartre and other French leftists. thinking that estranged Sartre and Camus is proving its pertinence in a global community .. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of.
In addition to his four original plays, he also published several successful adaptations including theatre pieces based on works by Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, and Calderon. He took particular pride in his work as a dramatist and man of the theatre. However, his plays never achieved the same popularity, critical success, or level of incandescence as his more famous novels and major essays.
The Misunderstanding Le Malentendu, —In this grim exploration of the Absurd, a son returns home while concealing his true identity from his mother and sister.
The two women operate a boarding house where, in order to make ends meet, they quietly murder and rob their patrons.
Through a tangle of misunderstanding and mistaken identity they wind up murdering their unrecognized visitor. Camus has explained the drama as an attempt to capture the atmosphere of malaise, corruption, demoralization, and anonymity that he experienced while living in France during the German occupation. The play is set in the Spanish seaport city of Cadiz, famous for its beaches, carnivals, and street musicians. By the end of the first act, the normally laid-back and carefree citizens fall under the dominion of a gaudily beribboned and uniformed dictator named Plague based on Generalissimo Franco and his officious, clip-board wielding Secretary who turns out to be a modern, bureaucratic incarnation of the medieval figure Death.
One of the prominent concerns of the play is the Orwellian theme of the degradation of language via totalitarian politics and bureaucracy symbolized onstage by calls for silence, scenes in pantomime, and a gagged chorus. The play effectively dramatizes the issues that Camus would later explore in detail in The Rebel, especially the question of whether acts of terrorism and political violence can ever be morally justified and if so, with what limitations and in what specific circumstances.
After the successful completion of his bombing mission and subsequent arrest, Kalyayev welcomed his execution on similarly practical and purely political grounds, believing that his death would further the cause of revolution and social justice.
Upon seeing the two children in the carriage, he refuses to toss his bomb not because doing so would be politically inexpedient but because he is overcome emotionally, temporarily unnerved by the sad expression in their eyes. Similarly, at the end of the play he embraces his death not so much because it will aid the revolution, but almost as a form of karmic penance, as if it were indeed some kind of sacred duty or metaphysical requirement that must be performed in order for true justice to be achieved.
Affirming a defiantly atheistic creed, Camus concludes with one of the core ideas of his philosophy: It is here that Camus formally introduces and fully articulates his most famous idea, the concept of the Absurd, and his equally famous image of life as a Sisyphean struggle. In the end, Camus rejects suicide: Only this time his primary concern is not suicide but murder. He takes up the question of whether acts of terrorism and political violence can be morally justified, which is basically the same question he had addressed earlier in his play The Just Assassins.
After arguing that an authentic life inevitably involves some form of conscientious moral revolt, Camus winds up concluding that only in rare and very narrowly defined instances is political violence justified. Philosophy To re-emphasize a point made earlier, Camus considered himself first and foremost a writer un ecrivain.
However, he apparently never felt comfortable identifying himself as a philosopher—a term he seems to have associated with rigorous academic training, systematic thinking, logical consistency, and a coherent, carefully defined doctrine or body of ideas. This is not to suggest that Camus lacked ideas or to say that his thought cannot be considered a personal philosophy.
It is simply to point out that he was not a systematic, or even a notably disciplined thinker and that, unlike Heidegger and Sartrefor example, he showed very little interest in metaphysics and ontology, which seems to be one of the reasons he consistently denied that he was an existentialist. In short, he was not much given to speculative philosophy or any kind of abstract theorizing. His thought is instead nearly always related to current events e. Background and Influences Though he was baptized, raised, and educated as a Catholic and invariably respectful towards the Church, Camus seems to have been a natural-born pagan who showed almost no instinct whatsoever for belief in the supernatural.
Even as a youth, he was more of a sun-worshipper and nature lover than a boy notable for his piety or religious faith. On the other hand, there is no denying that Christian literature and philosophy served as an important influence on his early thought and intellectual development. As a young high school student, Camus studied the Bible, read and savored the Spanish mystics St.
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Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and was introduced to the thought of St. Augustine would later serve as the subject of his baccalaureate dissertation and become—as a fellow North African writer, quasi-existentialist, and conscientious observer-critic of his own life—an important lifelong influence. In college Camus absorbed Kierkegaard, who, after Augustine, was probably the single greatest Christian influence on his thought.
He also studied Schopenhauer and Nietzsche—undoubtedly the two writers who did the most to set him on his own path of defiant pessimism and atheism. Other notable influences include not only the major modern philosophers from the academic curriculum—from Descartes and Spinoza to Bergson—but also, and just as importantly, philosophical writers like Stendhal, Melville, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka.
Here he unfolds what is essentially a hedonistic, indeed almost primitivistic, celebration of nature and the life of the senses. In the Romantic poetic tradition of writers like Rilke and Wallace Stevens, he offers a forceful rejection of all hereafters and an emphatic embrace of the here and now.
There is no salvation, he argues, no transcendence; there is only the enjoyment of consciousness and natural being. One life, this life, is enough. Sky and sea, mountain and desert, have their own beauty and magnificence and constitute a sufficient heaven.
In the first place, the Camus of Nuptials is still a young man of twenty-five, aflame with youthful joie de vivre. He favors a life of impulse and daring as it was honored and practiced in both Romantic literature and in the streets of Belcourt. Recently married and divorced, raised in poverty and in close quarters, beset with health problems, this young man develops an understandable passion for clear air, open space, colorful dreams, panoramic vistas, and the breath-taking prospects and challenges of the larger world.
Consequently, the Camus of the period is a decidedly different writer from the Camus who will ascend the dais at Stockholm nearly twenty years later. The young Camus is more of a sensualist and pleasure-seeker, more of a dandy and aesthete, than the more hardened and austere figure who will endure the Occupation while serving in the French underground.
He is a writer passionate in his conviction that life ought to be lived vividly and intensely—indeed rebelliously to use the term that will take on increasing importance in his thought. He is also a writer attracted to causes, though he is not yet the author who will become world-famous for his moral seriousness and passionate commitment to justice and freedom.
All of which is understandable. After all, the Camus of the middle s had not yet witnessed and absorbed the shattering spectacle and disillusioning effects of the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Fascism, Hitlerism, and Stalinism, the coming into being of total war and weapons of mass destruction, and the terrible reign of genocide and terror that would characterize the period It is proudly and inconsolably pessimistic, but not in a polemical or overbearing way.
It is unbending, hardheaded, determinedly skeptical. It is tolerant and respectful of world religious creeds, but at the same time wholly unsympathetic to them. In the end it is an affirmative philosophy that accepts and approves, and in its own way blesses, our dreadful mortality and our fundamental isolation in the world.
Themes and Ideas Regardless of whether he is producing drama, fiction, or non-fiction, Camus in his mature writings nearly always takes up and re-explores the same basic philosophical issues.
These recurrent topoi constitute the key components of his thought. They include themes like the Absurd, alienation, suicide, and rebellion that almost automatically come to mind whenever his name is mentioned. Hence any summary of his place in modern philosophy would be incomplete without at least a brief discussion of these ideas and how they fit together to form a distinctive and original world-view. Indeed, as even sitcom writers and stand-up comics apparently understand odd fact: What then is meant by the notion of the Absurd?
Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.Sartre: Love is a hazardous, painful struggle.
Instead, as he emphasizes and tries to make clear, the Absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence. Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other.
Such is our fate: Two of these he condemns as evasions, and the other he puts forward as a proper solution. The first choice is blunt and simple: If we decide that a life without some essential purpose or meaning is not worth living, we can simply choose to kill ourselves. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly. In his terms it is a repudiation or renunciation of life, not a true revolt. The second choice is the religious solution of positing a transcendent world of solace and meaning beyond the Absurd.
In effect, instead of removing himself from the absurd confrontation of self and world like the physical suicide, the religious believer simply removes the offending world and replaces it, via a kind of metaphysical abracadabra, with a more agreeable alternative.
Since the Absurd in his view is an unavoidable, indeed defining, characteristic of the human condition, the only proper response to it is full, unflinching, courageous acceptance.
Doomed to eternal labor at his rock, fully conscious of the essential hopelessness of his plight, Sisyphus nevertheless pushes on. In doing so he becomes for Camus a superb icon of the spirit of revolt and of the human condition. To rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win, and to do this with wit, grace, compassion for others, and even a sense of mission, is to face the Absurd in a spirit of true heroism.
Over the course of his career, Camus examines the Absurd from multiple perspectives and through the eyes of many different characters—from the mad Caligula, who is obsessed with the problem, to the strangely aloof and yet simultaneously self-absorbed Meursault, who seems indifferent to it even as he exemplifies and is finally victimized by it.
In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus traces it in specific characters of legend and literature Don Juan, Ivan Karamazov and also in certain character types the Actor, the Conquerorall of who may be understood as in some way a version or manifestation of Sisyphus, the archetypal absurd hero. A rather different, yet possibly related, notion of the Absurd is proposed and analyzed in the work of Kierkegaard, especially in Fear and Trembling and Repetition.
For Kierkegaard, however, the Absurd describes not an essential and universal human condition, but the special condition and nature of religious faith—a paradoxical state in which matters of will and perception that are objectively impossible can nevertheless be ultimately true. Simply defined, it is the Sisyphean spirit of defiance in the face of the Absurd. More technically and less metaphorically, it is a spirit of opposition against any perceived unfairness, oppression, or indignity in the human condition.
In fact Camus argues at considerable length to show that an act of conscientious revolt is ultimately far more than just an individual gesture or an act of solitary protest. Indeed for him it was more like a fundamental article of his humanist faith. In any case it represents one of the core principles of his ethics and is one of the tenets that sets his philosophy apart from existentialism.
True revolt, then, is performed not just for the self but also in solidarity with and out of compassion for others. And for this reason, Camus is led to conclude that revolt too has its limits. If it begins with and necessarily involves a recognition of human community and a common human dignity, it cannot, without betraying its own true character, treat others as if they were lacking in that dignity or not a part of that community.
Meursault, the laconic narrator of The Stranger, is the most obvious example. He seems to observe everything, even his own behavior, from an outside perspective. Like an anthropologist, he records his observations with clinical detachment at the same time that he is warily observed by the community around him.
Camus came by this perspective naturally. This outside view, the perspective of the exile, became his characteristic stance as a writer. Guilt and Innocence Throughout his writing career, Camus showed a deep interest in questions of guilt and innocence. Once again Meursault in The Stranger provides a striking example. Is he legally innocent of the murder he is charged with? Or is he technically guilty? On the one hand, there seems to have been no conscious intention behind his action.
Indeed the killing takes place almost as if by accident, with Meursault in a kind of absent-minded daze, distracted by the sun. From this point of view, his crime seems surreal and his trial and subsequent conviction a travesty. The significantly named Jean-Baptiste Clamence a voice in the wilderness calling for clemency and forgiveness is tortured by guilt in the wake of a seemingly casual incident.
While strolling home one drizzly November evening, he shows little concern and almost no emotional reaction at all to the suicidal plunge of a young woman into the Seine. But afterwards the incident begins to gnaw at him, and eventually he comes to view his inaction as typical of a long pattern of personal vanity and as a colossal failure of human sympathy on his part.
Wracked by remorse and self-loathing, he gradually descends into a figurative hell. In the final sections of the novel, amid distinctly Christian imagery and symbolism, he declares his crucial insight that, despite our pretensions to righteousness, we are all guilty. Hence no human being has the right to pass final moral judgment on another.
In a final twist, Clamence asserts that his acid self-portrait is also a mirror for his contemporaries. Hence his confession is also an accusation—not only of his nameless companion who serves as the mute auditor for his monologue but ultimately of the hypocrite lecteur as well. At heart a nature-worshipper, and by instinct a skeptic and non-believer, Camus nevertheless retained a lifelong interest and respect for Christian philosophy and literature.
In particular, he seems to have recognized St. Augustine and Kierkegaard as intellectual kinsmen and writers with whom he shared a common passion for controversy, literary flourish, self-scrutiny, and self-dramatization.
Christian images, symbols, and allusions abound in all his work probably more so than in the writing of any other avowed atheist in modern literatureand Christian themes—judgment, forgiveness, despair, sacrifice, passion, and so forth—permeate the novels. Meursault and Clamence, it is worth noting, are presented not just as sinners, devils, and outcasts, but in several instances explicitly, and not entirely ironically, as Christ figures.
Meanwhile alongside and against this leitmotif of Christian images and themes, Camus sets the main components of his essentially pagan worldview.
Like Nietzsche, he maintains a special admiration for Greek heroic values and pessimism and for classical virtues like courage and honor. What might be termed Romantic values also merit particular esteem within his philosophy: Can an absurd world have intrinsic value?
Is authentic pessimism compatible with the view that there is an essential dignity to human life? They are almost a hallmark of his philosophical style.
Oracular and high-flown, they clearly have more rhetorical force than logical potency. Surprisingly, the sentiment here, a commonplace of the Enlightenment and of traditional liberalism, is much closer in spirit to the exuberant secular humanism of the Italian Renaissance than to the agnostic skepticism of contemporary post-modernism. History and Mass Culture A primary theme of early twentieth-century European literature and critical thought is the rise of modern mass civilization and its suffocating effects of alienation and dehumanization.
This became a pervasive theme by the time Camus was establishing his literary reputation. Anxiety over the fate of Western culture, already intense, escalated to apocalyptic levels with the sudden emergence of fascism, totalitarianism, and new technologies of coercion and death.
He responded to the occasion with typical force and eloquence. Even his concept of the Absurd becomes multiplied by a social and economic world in which meaningless routines and mind-numbing repetitions predominate. The drudgery of Sisyphus is mirrored and amplified in the assembly line, the business office, the government bureau, and especially in the penal colony and concentration camp.
In line with this theme, the ever-ambiguous Meursault in The Stranger can be understood as both a depressing manifestation of the newly emerging mass personality that is, as a figure devoid of basic human feelings and passions and, conversely, as a lone hold-out, a last remaining specimen of the old Romanticism—and hence a figure who is viewed as both dangerous and alien by the robotic majority.
Similarly, The Plague can be interpreted, on at least one level, as an allegory in which humanity must be preserved from the fatal pestilence of mass culture, which converts formerly free, autonomous, independent-minded human beings into a soulless new species. It was, above all, a shrewd, unflagging adversary; a skilled organizer, doing his work thoroughly and well. Clad in a gaudy military uniform bedecked with ribbons and decorations, the character Plague a satirical portrait of Generalissimo Francisco Franco—or El Caudillo as he liked to style himself is closely attended by his personal Secretary and loyal assistant Death, depicted as a prim, officious female bureaucrat who also favors military garb and who carries an ever-present clipboard and notebook.
Sartre then notes that this requires that the questioner be able to detach himself from the causal series of being. And, by nihilating the given, he detaches himself from any deterministic constraints.
And Sartre says that 'the name Our power to negate is thus the clue which reveals our nature as free. Below, we shall return to the nature of Sartre's notion of freedom. The For-Itself in Being and Nothingness The structure and characteristics of the for-itself are the main focal point of the phenomenological analyses of Being and Nothingness.
Here, the theme of consciousness's power of negation is explored in its different ramifications. These bring out the core claims of Sartre's existential account of the human condition. A Lack of Self-Identity The analysis of nothingness provides the key to the phenomenological understanding of the for-itself chapter 1, Part Two. For the negating power of consciousness is at work within the self BN, By applying the account of this negating power to the case of reflection, Sartre shows how reflective consciousness negates the pre-reflective consciousness it takes as its object.
This creates an instability within the self which emerges in reflection: This lack of self-identity is given another twist by Sartre: That means that the unity of the self is a task for the for-itself, a task which amounts to the self's seeking to ground itself. This dimension of task ushers in a temporal component that is fully justified by Sartre's analysis of temporality BN, The lack of coincidence of the for-itself with itself is at the heart of what it is to be a for-itself.
Indeed, the for-itself is not identical with its past nor its future. It is already no longer what it was, and it is not yet what it will be. Thus, when I make who I am the object of my reflection, I can take that which now lies in my past as my object, while I have actually moved beyond this. Sartre says that I am therefore no longer who I am. Similarly with the future: I never coincide with that which I shall be.
Temporality constitutes another aspect of the way in which negation is at work within the for-itself. These temporal ecstases also map onto fundamental features of the for-itself. First, the past corresponds to the facticity of a human life that cannot choose what is already given about itself. Second, the future opens up possibilities for the freedom of the for-itself.
The coordination of freedom and facticity is however generally incoherent, and thus represents another aspect of the essential instability at the heart of the for-itself. The Project of Bad Faith The way in which the incoherence of the dichotomy of facticity and freedom is manifested, is through the project of bad faith chapter 2, Part One.
Let us first clarify Sartre's notion of project. The fact that the self-identity of the for-itself is set as a task for the for-itself, amounts to defining projects for the for-itself. Insofar as they contribute to this task, they can be seen as aspects of the individual's fundamental project. This specifies the way in which the for-itself understands itself and defines herself as this, rather than another, individual. We shall return to the issue of the fundamental project below. Among the different types of project, that of bad faith is of generic importance for an existential understanding of what it is to be human.
This importance derives ultimately from its ethical relevance. Sartre's analysis of the project of bad faith is grounded in vivid examples. In thus behaving, the waiter is identifying himself with his role as waiter in the mode of being in-itself. In other words, the waiter is discarding his real nature as for-itself, i. He is thus denying his transcendence as for-itself in favour of the kind of transcendence characterising the in-itself.
In this way, the burden of his freedom, i. The mechanism involved in such a project involves an inherent contradiction. Indeed, the very identification at the heart of bad faith is only possible because the waiter is a for-itself, and can indeed choose to adopt such a project. So the freedom of the for-itself is a pre-condition for the project of bad faith which denies it. The agent's defining his being as an in-itself is the result of the way in which he represents himself to himself.
This misrepresentation is however one the agent is responsible for. Ultimately, nothing is hidden, since consciousness is transparent and therefore the project of bad faith is pursued while the agent is fully aware of how things are in pre-reflective consciousness.
Insofar as bad faith is self-deceit, it raises the problem of accounting for contradictory beliefs. The examples of bad faith which Sartre gives, serve to underline how this conception of self-deceit in fact involves a project based upon inadequate representations of what one is. There is therefore no need to have recourse to a notion of unconscious to explain such phenomena.
A first consequence is that this represents an alternative to psychoanalytical accounts of self-deceit. Sartre was particularly keen to provide alternatives to Freud's theory of self-deceit, with its appeal to censorship mechanisms accounting for repression, all of which are beyond the subject's awareness as they are unconscious BN, The reason is that Freud's theory diminishes the agent's responsibility.
On the contrary, and this is the second consequence of Sartre's account of bad faith, Sartre's theory makes the individual responsible for what is a widespread form of behaviour, one that accounts for many of the evils that Sartre sought to describe in his plays.
To explain how existential psychoanalysis works requires that we first examine the notion of fundamental project BN, The Fundamental Project If the project of bad faith involves a misrepresentation of what it is to be a for-itself, and thus provides a powerful account of certain types of self-deceit, we have, as yet, no account of the motivation that lies behind the adoption of such a project.
As we saw above, all projects can be viewed as parts of the fundamental project, and we shall therefore focus upon the motivation for the latter chapter 2, Part Four. That a for-itself is defined by such a project arises as a consequence of the for-itself's setting itself self-identity as a task.
This in turn is the result of the for-itself's experiencing the cleavages introduced by reflection and temporality as amounting to a lack of self-identity. This desire is universal, and it can take on one of three forms.
First, it may be aimed at a direct transformation of the for-itself into an in-itself. Second, the for-itself may affirm its freedom that distinguishes it from an in-itself, so that it seeks through this to become its own foundation i. The conjunction of these two moments results, third, in the for-itself's aiming for another mode of being, the for-itself-in-itself. None of the aims described in these three moments are realisable. Moreover, the triad of these three moments is, unlike a Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis triad, inherently instable: Since all human lives are characterised by such a desire albeit in different individuated formsSartre has thus provided a description of the human condition which is dominated by the irrationality of particular projects.
This picture is in particular illustrated in Being and Nothingness by an account of the projects of love, sadism and masochism, and in other works, by biographical accounts of the lives of Baudelaire, Flaubert and Jean Genet. With this notion of desire for being, the motivation for the fundamental project is ultimately accounted for in terms of the metaphysical nature of the for-itself.
This means that the source of motivation for the fundamental project lies within consciousness. Thus, in particular, bad faith, as a type of project, is motivated in this way. The individual choice of fundamental project is an original choice BN, Consequently, an understanding of what it is to be Flaubert for instance, must involve an attempt to decipher his original choice.
This hermeneutic exercise aims to reveal what makes an individual a unity. This provides existential psychoanalysis with its principle. Its method involves an analysis of all the empirical behaviour of the subject, aimed at grasping the nature of this unity. Desire The fundamental project has been presented as motivated by a desire for being. How does this enable Sartre to provide an account of desires as in fact directed towards being although they are generally thought to be rather aimed at having?
Sartre discusses desire in chapter I of Part One and then again in chapter II of Part Four, after presenting the notion of fundamental project. In the first short discussion of desire, Sartre presents it as seeking a coincidence with itself that is not possible BN, 87, Thus, in thirst, there is a lack that seeks to be satisfied.
But the satisfaction of thirst is not the suppression of thirst, but rather the aim of a plenitude of being in which desire and satisfaction are united in an impossible synthesis. As Sartre points out, humans cling on to their desires.
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Mere satisfaction through suppression of the desire is indeed always disappointing. Another example of this structure of desire BN, is that of love. For Sartre, the lover seeks to possess the loved one and thus integrate her into his being: He simultaneously wishes the loved one nevertheless remain beyond his being as the other he desires, i. These are incompatible aspects of desire: In the lengthier discussion on the topic "Being and Having," Sartre differentiates between three relations to an object that can be projected in desiring.
These are being, doing and having. Sartre argues that relations of desire aimed at doing are reducible to one of the other two types. His examination of these two types can be summarised as follows. Desiring expressed in terms of being is aimed at the self. And desiring expressed in terms of having is aimed at possession.
But an object is possessed insofar as it is related to me by an internal ontological bond, Sartre argues. Through that bond, the object is represented as my creation. The possessed object is represented both as part of me and as my creation. With respect to this object, I am therefore viewed both as an in-itself and as endowed with freedom.
The object is thus a symbol of the subject's being, which presents it in a way that conforms with the aims of the fundamental project. Sartre can therefore subsume the case of desiring to have under that of desiring to be, and we are thus left with a single type of desire, that for being. Relations with Others in Being and Nothingness So far, we have presented the analysis of the for-itself without investigating how different individual for-itself's interact. Far from neglecting the issue of inter-subjectivity, this represents an important part of Sartre's phenomenological analysis in which the main themes discussed above receive their confirmation in, and extension to the inter-personal realm.
Sartre examines many existing approaches to the problem of other minds. Looking at realism, Sartre claims that no access to other minds is ever possible, and that for a realist approach the existence of the other is a mere hypothesis. As for idealism, it can only ever view the other in terms of sets of appearances. But the transphenomenality of the other cannot be deduced from them.
Sartre also looks at his phenomenologist predecessors, Husserl and Heidegger. Husserl's account is based upon the perception of another body from which, by analogy, I can consider the other as a distinct conscious perspective upon the world. But the attempt to derive the other's subjectivity from my own never really leaves the orbit of my own transcendental ego, and thus fails to come to terms with the other as a distinct transcendental ego. Sartre praises Heidegger for understanding that the relation to the other is a relation of being, not an epistemological one.
However, Heidegger does not provide any grounds for taking the co-existence of Daseins 'being-with' as an ontological structure. What is, for Sartre, the nature of my consciousness of the other? Sartre provides a phenomenological analysis of shame and how the other features in it. When I peep through the keyhole, I am completely absorbed in what I am doing and my ego does not feature as part of this pre-reflective state.
However, when I hear a floorboard creaking behind me, I become aware of myself as an object of the other's look. My ego appears on the scene of this reflective consciousness, but it is as an object for the other. Note that one may be empirically in error about the presence of this other. But all that is required by Sartre's thesis is that there be other human beings. This objectification of my ego is only possible if the other is given as a subject.
For Sartre, this establishes what needed to be proven: This does not refute the skeptic, but provides Sartre with a place for the other as an a priori condition for certain forms of consciousness which reveal a relation of being to the other. Human Relationships In the experience of shame BN,the objectification of my ego denies my existence as a subject.
I do, however, have a way of evading this. This is through an objectification of the other. By reacting against the look of the other, I can turn him into an object for my look. But this is no stable relation. In chapter 1, Part Three, of Being and Nothingness, Sartre sees important implications of this movement from object to subject and vice-versa, insofar as it is through distinguishing oneself from the other that a for-itself individuates itself.
More precisely, the objectification of the other corresponds to an affirmation of my self by distinguishing myself from the other. This affirmation is however a failure, because through it, I deny the other's selfhood and therefore deny that with respect to which I want to affirm myself. So, the dependence upon the other which characterises the individuation of a particular ego is simultaneously denied.
The resulting instability is characteristic of the typically conflictual state of our relations with others. Sartre examines examples of such relationships as are involved in sadism, masochism and love.
Ultimately, Sartre would argue that the instabilities that arise in human relationships are a form of inter-subjective bad faith. Authenticity If the picture which emerges from Sartre's examination of human relationships seems rather hopeless, it is because bad faith is omnipresent and inescapable.
In fact, Sartre's philosophy has a very positive message which is that we have infinite freedom and that this enables us to make authentic choices which escape from the grip of bad faith. To understand Sartre's notion of authenticity therefore requires that we first clarify his notion of freedom. Freedom For Sartre chapter 1, Part Foureach agent is endowed with unlimited freedom. This statement may seem puzzling given the obvious limitations on every individual's freedom of choice.
Clearly, physical and social constraints cannot be overlooked in the way in which we make choices. This is however a fact which Sartre accepts insofar as the for-itself is facticity. And this does not lead to any contradiction insofar as freedom is not defined by an ability to act. Freedom is rather to be understood as characteristic of the nature of consciousness, i. But there is more to freedom. For all that Pierre's freedom is expressed in opting either for looking after his ailing grandmother or joining the French Resistance, choices for which there are indeed no existing grounds, the decision to opt for either of these courses of action is a meaningful one.
That is, opting for the one of the other is not just a spontaneous decision, but has consequences for the for-itself.
To express this, Sartre presents his notion of freedom as amounting to making choices, and indeed not being able to avoid making choices. Sartre's conception of choice can best be understood by reference to an individual's original choice, as we saw above. Sartre views the whole life of an individual as expressing an original project that unfolds throughout time.
This is not a project which the individual has proper knowledge of, but rather one which she may interpret an interpretation constantly open to revision. Specific choices are therefore always components in time of this time-spanning original choice of project. Authenticity With this notion of freedom as spontaneous choice, Sartre therefore has the elements required to define what it is to be an authentic human being.
This consists in choosing in a way which reflects the nature of the for-itself as both transcendence and facticity. This notion of authenticity appears closely related to Heidegger's, since it involves a mode of being that exhibits a recognition that one is a Dasein. However, unlike Heidegger's, Sartre's conception has clear practical consequences.
For what is required of an authentic choice is that it involve a proper coordination of transcendence and facticity, and thus that it avoid the pitfalls of an uncoordinated expression of the desire for being. This amounts to not-grasping oneself as freedom and facticity. Such a lack of proper coordination between transcendence and facticity constitutes bad faith, either at an individual or an inter-personal level.
Jean Paul Sartre: Existentialism
Such a notion of authenticity is therefore quite different from what is often popularly misrepresented as a typically existentialist attitude, namely an absolute prioritisation of individual spontaneity. On the contrary, a recognition of how our freedom interacts with our facticity exhibits the responsibility which we have to make proper choices. These are choices which are not trapped in bad faith.
An Ethical Dimension Through the practical consequences presented above, an existentialist ethics can be discerned. We pointed out that random expressions of one's spontaneity are not what authenticity is about, and Sartre emphasises this point in Existentialism and Humanism. There, he explicitly states that there is an ethical normativity about authenticity. If one ought to act authentically, is there any way of further specifying what this means for the nature of ethical choices?
There are in fact many statements in Being and Nothingness which emphasise a universality criterion not entirely dissimilar from Kant's. This should come as no surprise since both Sartre and Kant's approaches are based upon the ultimate value of a strong notion of freedom.
As Sartre points out, by choosing, an individual commits not only himself, but the whole of humanity BN, Although there are no a priori values for Sartre, the agent's choice creates values in the same way as the artist does in the aesthetic realm. The values thus created by a proper exercise of my freedom have a universal dimension, in that any other human being could make sense of them were he to be placed in my situation.
There is therefore a universality that is expressed in particular forms in each authentic project. This is a first manifestation of what Sartre later refers to as the 'singular universal'. Other Contributions to Existential Phenomenology If Being and Nothingness represents the culmination of Sartre's purely existentialist work, existentialism permeates later writings, albeit in a hybrid form. We shall briefly indicate how these later writings extend and transform his project of existential phenomenology.
Critique of Dialectical Reason The experience of the war and the encounter with Merleau-Ponty contributed to awakening Sartre's interest in the political dimension of human existence: Sartre thus further developed his existentialist understanding of human beings in a way which is compatible with Marxism.
A key notion for this phase of his philosophical development is the concept of praxis. This extends and transforms that of project: Social structures define a starting point for each individual.
But the individual then sets his own aims and thereby goes beyond and negates what society had defined him as. The range of possibilities which are available for this expression of freedom is however dependent upon the existing social structures.
And it may be the case that this range is very limited. In this way, the infinite freedom of the earlier philosophy is now narrowed down by the constraints of the political and historical situation.
In Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre analyses different dimensions of the praxis.