Biography of Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

Jean Paul Sartre.

Philosopher and French writer, born in Paris on June 21, 1905, and died in the same city in 1980. It is one of the leading representatives of the school of thought known as Existentialism.

Life and work

Jean Paul Sartre it was born in Paris and was his father when he was two years old. He studied at the schools of Henri IV, la Rochelle and, later, in 1924, entered the Normal school to pursue their higher education. After his PhD in philosophy, he worked as a teacher in various schools. Between 1933 and 1935 he attended specialization courses in Berlin and Freiburg, where it made contact with the German philosophical systems, of which he was particularly attracted by the existential analytic of Heideggerand phenomenology of Husserl . Upon his return began to teach at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, but after World War II broke out, he joined the French army and was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1940. Released in 1941, he returned to teach philosophy at the time who actively participated in the French resistance. During the early years of the postwar period became interpreter of the profound disintegration of traditional values; It is here when all his thought and an extensive literary production in terms of constant debate of anti-bourgeois. In 1945 he founded the journal Les temps modernes, which saw the light in several of his writings, and since then was devoted entirely to the literary activity. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Prize of literature, prize refused claiming to protect their literary integrity.

His first works date back to the years prior to the war. Thus, in 1936 published a pair of trials, and in 1938 his famous novel the nausea. In 1939 in press published a work on the emotions (Esquisse d'une théorie des emotions), and several short stories, collected under the title of Le mur. Later, during the war, published a book about the imagination, l'imaginaire: psychologie phenomenoligique de l'imagination (imaginary: phenomenological psychology of the imagination), and that is perhaps his most famous philosophical writing, L' être the le Néant: essai d'une ontologie phenomenologique (being and nothing: a phenomenological ontology test), dating back to 1943. In that same year was staged his play Les mouches (flies), and two years later appeared the first two volumes of his novel Les chemins of la liberté (freedom roads), as well as the play Huis clos (behind closed doors). In 1946 he appeared other two stage works, Morts sans sepulture and the respectuese putain, and published his Réflexions sur question juive. In subsequent years he published a number of plays, and in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1964 appeared a series of essays collected under the title of Situations. It should be noted, in addition, the publication of Critique de raison dialectique (critique of dialectical reason), where after a long and careful reconsideration of Marxism, he develops the idea that the central problems are already those of the individual and of his conscience in relation to the outside world, but of historical and social conditioning to which the individual is subject and which can not escapemixing thus Marxist point of view with the Existentialist.

In addition to the above, should also mention the following philosophical writings: Existentialism is one humanism (1946), Baudelaire (1947), Saint Genet, comedian and martyr (1952), hurricane on sugar (1960), words (1963), the fool of the family, 3 vols. (1971-1972), and their collaboration in Marxism and Existentialism, along with Roger Garaudy, Jean Hyppolite and Jean Pierre Vigier, among others. Regarding his theatrical production, also include Les mains sales (1948), Le diable et le bon Dieu (1951), Nebrassov (1956), Les sequiestres d'Altona (1960) and a theatre of situations (1973).

Philosophical doctrine

The philosophical doctrine of Sartre comes from the conjunction of several pockets of influence exerted on the author by different currents that felt especially drawn: first, by Edmun Husserl phenomenological current (see phenomenology); Secondly, the thought of Martin Heidegger; and, finally, the tendency of Marxist that always marked his political thought and its activity.

Being and nothing

The being and nothingness is the fundamental philosophical work of what we could call the first stage of the sartriano thinking. It defends the idea of a phenomenological ontology based on a distinction between being itself and to other basic. Based on the phenomenological conception husserliana of the intentional nature of the self, Sartre focuses on the analysis of the consciousness as intentional consciousness (i.e., consciousness, which always tends toward something, consciousness that is always consciousness of something), which is fundamental to analyze the relationship between subject and object. Subject and object are the two poles of the phenomenological ontology. The object is characterized as what appears to the conscience, and in this sense the object is phenomenon. But it is not a phenomenon in the sense that had traditionally defended the traditional philosophy; Indeed, the Western philosophical tradition was to see that things are, so to speak, two-sided: the phenomenon and the noumenon consist. The phenomenon is what appears, while the noumenon consist is what remains hidden, something unknowable that constitutes the genuine essence of the thing and that is beyond our knowledge mechanisms. Sartre, against this point of view, argues that the thing is pure phenomenon, i.e., that there is nothing to hide; simply, what appears is, and being or what it is, is what appears. The object thus understood is what Sartre called being itself. In front of him, consciousness is characterized as being for himself; be for himself is nothing, in the sense that consciousness is always consciousness of something, i.e. is always directed to a being that her own; is not the own "I", sometimes identified with consciousness, here is something that is essentially no different from the objects themselves, and ontologically stands at the same level as the phenomena of the external world. Consciousness is not understood as a "spiritual" entity or of any other type, but as an intentionality that is nothing in itself, but you have to interact with the world in which it is located.

This way, in being and nothingness announces an ontological dualism between nothing of the consciousness that perpetually tends to the overcoming of the actuality and being as brute presence than it is. On the other hand, Sartre developed on the basis of the above analysis of ethical character which acquires special relevance the notion of freedom. Indeed, awareness has been characterized as an open structure, as a mere project, what leads to the finding of absolute freedom of choice that the human being is equipped with. This absolute freedom generates anguish as possible and the feeling of an equally absolute liability; This is so because, according to a known maximum Sartre, "existence precedes essence". The existence is consciousness, being for himself, while the essence are objects, being itself. So you try to express the originariedad and irreducibility of subjectivity, the actuality and the compact nature of the being itself: "the man is first and foremost a project that is experienced subjectively". And insofar as pure subjectivity, the man moves away from everything else and is not nothing but a structure in constant inadequacy I to herself. That is freedom: the very structure of existence, consciousness or be for himself.

In the middle of this freedom, which pursues the existence is the power to determine or conquer its essence; in this sense, the project of human existence is commitment to constantly save the distance or inadequacy between being for himself and being itself. The subject tends to an ideal that is perfect matching in-si and the for-Yes, but such ideal is doomed to fail, because in-si and the for-if there are conflicting. That the tragedy of the man as soon as that project is that his passion is useless.

Still, Sartre passionately insists in defending "Existentialism is a humanism" (as the title of one of his most famous and controversial essays). How it justifies and explains this assertion? Firstly, man is the only significance, since the universe of human subjectivity (ultimately, the only universe that exists) is a reality that is outside, and projected and exists precisely to the extent of its projection. Secondly, the order of the rest of the things is set relative to the significance that she herself is, and lacks any other law than that gives itself. This kind of centrality of man is which identifies Existentialism with humanism.

Critique of dialectical reason

With this work, published in 1960, the thought of Sartre begins a shift with respect to the previous approaches that are embodied in the be and nothingness. Existentialism, as it had been exposed until that time, suffered from a fundamental lack that the own Sartre knew how to see: a social, historico-practica, dimension that the own committed spirit of the philosopher immediately cast in lack. In an attempt to overcome Existentialism and suppress this lack, Sartre initiated a complex job for approach to Marxism, understood as a specific philosophy of the working class and "unsurpassable horizon of our time". In the critique of dialectical reason, an examination of the reason with the desire that this critically reorient their March, and do so from two fundamental coordinates intends: firstly, the assumption that Marxism is the philosophy of the present time, the living philosophy; Second, the finding that Marxism should be redirected to its condition of possibility, stripping him of certain characters, notably from its use by the Soviet Union, they had brought with them the annihilation of the individual and the contempt for the particular. In this way, the task proposed Sartre is a kind of mutual complementarity between Existentialism and Marxism; Although admitted is that Marxism is the only living philosophy of our time, and that Existentialism as such is relegated to being an ideology outside of Marxism (although not against it) and, therefore, an ideology "parasitic", is also true that the Existentialist contribution is able to provide an anthropology and a theory of the subject which Marxism itself lacks. Thus, Marxism will only become doctrine "euristica" If you use the instruments offered not only by Existentialism, but also by psychoanalysis, the microsociology and other human sciences.