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The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) was a model intellectual for the twentieth century. He was a multitalented thinker who not only created several philosophical systems but also wrote major novels and plays, essays on literary theory and art criticism, and some methodologically innovative biographies. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964, which he declined. In addition, he was the major voice for existentialism, a movement that dominated European thought from 1943 to 1955, and he challenged the dominant theories of his day: refashioning Marxism from within and revising Freud’s approach to understanding persons – shifting from a deterministic to a teleological analysis that treats persons as self-constituting agents. He also strove to influence the course of international events through his political analysis and activism, e.g. he opposed the Algerian and Vietnamese wars. Finally, within philosophy he insightfully addressed virtually every issue concerning the nature and everyday life of human beings. Though known for his defense of freedom and human responsibility, his work is perhaps best understood as exploring the relations between individuals and their environments – raw being, nature, technology, the family, other people, groups, and history. He thus offered a complete picture of human life as lived.

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His work can be divided into three general periods: existential phenomenology (1934–56), dialectical analysis of groups and history (1957–70), and an exploration of lived historical experience (1971–80).

Life

In 1937–40 Sartre published his first philosophical essays and also his first novel, Nausea. He served in the army during the Second World War, but his role allowed him to continue developing his philosophical ideas.Eventually, he became a prisoner of war – teaching Heidegger’s theories to his fellow prisoners. He escaped and returned to Paris, publishing his first major treatise, Being and Nothingness, in 1943 and popularizing its ideas in his plays No Exit and The Flies and the narrative trilogy The Roads to Freedom (The Age of Reason, The Reprieve, and Troubled Sleep). With the liberation, his version of existentialism dominated French thought. In 1945 he founded Les Temps moderne, the journal in which many of his essays first appeared. He sketched a preliminary ethics in “Existentialism is a Humanism” and What is Literature?

From 1946 to 1955 Sartre wrote several “existential biographies,” the most important of which is Saint Genet, which examined the relationships between good and evil. Sartre applied his “existential psychoanalysis” in these biographies. Its goal is to discover the subject’s fundamental project (the one which integrates all others) and how it changes as the person encounters recalcitrant situations. During the period from 1946 to 1973 Sartre engaged in a long dialogue with Marxism. This effort culminated in his second major philosophical treatise, the Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). In this work he revised his understanding of how individuals are related to the practical world and history, and developed an original understanding of the dynamic structure and historical agency of human groups. The second volume investigates whether history can achieve even partial resolution if it contains ever-present conflicts. Sartre continued his political analysis of contemporary events throughout this period, gradually becoming more active and taking greater risks. His apartment was bombed several times.

His final major project was the 3,000-page Family Idiot. Here he analyzed both a particular historical period and the individual development of Gustav Flaubert. This work integrates his previous theories and develops new concepts – expanding his theories of language and writing. Sartre lost his ability to see in 1973, but continued to give interviews, discuss ideas, and have new books read to him. He collaborated with Benny Levi on a final work, called Hope Now (1991). Sartre died in 1980; his funeral drew a massive popular procession (of tens of thousands) through Paris, the likes of which has rarely been seen before and may never be seen again.

Existential Phenomenology

Phenomenology is the study of the essential structures of experience. Sartre developed an existential phenomenology, which describes these structures as they are lived. Sartre initially examined emotions (in Emotions: Outline of a Theory, 1939), imagination (in The Psychology of the Imagination, 1940), and the self (in The Transcendence of the Ego, 1937). He claims that emotions are magical attempts to achieve our purposes which abandon the practical requirements of the world. He distinguishes feelings, which are momentary heightened intensities, from emotions, which meaningfully integrate behavior, belief, and fantasy. He also distinguishes feelings from moods, which transcend the moment and require an act of reflective consciousness in order to be produced and sustained (consider the difference between feeling a momentary setback and falling into depression). Because emotions are attempts to magically sidestep practical exigencies and because they are intentional, Sartre claims we are responsible for our emotional lives.

Sartre thinks imagination is a fundamental capacity of consciousness. It transcends the given situation by envisioning alternatives to it. Because the chosen action excludes various alternatives, imagination is a precondition for choice, action, and responsibility. The given facts of the situation can never completely determine or foreclose choices. This means one is responsible for such choices. Sartre also explores the differences between perceiving and imagining: one can learn more from a perceived object by looking, but the imagined object already incorporates one’s knowledge of it. Also, the perceived object offers resistance to one’s will, while the imagined object can be altered with one’s whims.

Sartre completes these early studies with an examination of the psychic self, often taken to be the source of mental states. He distinguishes between pre-reflective and reflective consciousness. Prereflective consciousness is directly focused on its object, is absorbed in tasks, and possesses only the most glancing, indirect grasp of itself. Reflective consciousness is a dependent and second-order form, existing only when consciousness attempts to directly observe itself (introspectively or retrospectively). In doing so it synthesizes fleeting, discrete consciousnesses into illusory unities and then assumes these fictions existed prior to its operations. Reflective consciousness thus endows itself with passivity, interpreting consciousness as a result produced by interior “forces.” However, there is one type of reflection – which Sartre calls “pure” and on which his entire position is ultimately based – that escapes these illusory fabrications and reveals consciousness just as it is. Most of Sartre’s claims derive from this type of purified self-revelation. Sartre demonstrates the import of this pre-reflective/reflective distinction by showing that the psychic self is only a creature of reflective consciousness, that it does not exist in pre-reflective life at all. It emerges only when one attempts to take the other person’s viewpoint on oneself – a different way of understanding the experience of reflection. Indeed, the whole panoply of dispositions and inner states people take themselves to possess are merely inventions of impure reflection. Sartre also suggests that the causal influence of such states on behavior is illusory. When one makes the transition to purified reflection, these false, selfcreated unities dissolve, and the contingency and spontaneity of consciousness is revealed.

Sartre summarizes these discoveries in his most famous novel, Nausea, which strips away the protective illusions of impure reflection to reveal both consciousness and raw being in their naked states. Typical social roles, accepted values, received traditions, established concepts, and even language itself all conceal the dynamic, self-transcending quality of consciousness and the brute, indifferent superfluity of raw being. Consciousness transcends itself because its past choices never determine its present course; if a project is to continue, it must be rechosen in each situation that threatens it. Nausea’s anti-hero, Roquentin, discovers Sartre’s radical freedom – the sense that anything is possible – but realizes it is a crushing burden. He also experiences the dissolution of the psychic self, both when the subject of his biographical study refuses to conform to any plausible hypothesis Roquentin can produce and when Roquentin himself abandons his own organizing project (the writing of the biography). This forces him to experience the contingency and spontaneity of his conscious states.

Being and Nothingness extends Sartre’s study of the types of consciousness and their relationship with the world, others, and raw being. He contrasts two types of being: a solid, complete, self-identical, self-suf- ficient type (inert objects) and an empty, incomplete, self-divided type (consciousness) that is parasitic on the first type of being yet transforms it – breaking it into distinct objects and tools by objectifying it. A third type of being mediates persons as they define and use each other; it is the creation of others but nonetheless defines oneself. He calls this one’s being-for-others. It is an ever-present proof of the other’s freedom because it reveals a dimension of oneself and the world (other people) which one cannot ultimately control. One can attempt to influence other people’s judgments about oneself in various ways, but there is no guarantee that they will respond appropriately. For Sartre this experience of being objectified articulates the lived reality of other persons, which is more basic than one’s objectifying knowledge of them.

Sartre suggests that the internal division within consciousness produced by reflection is a radicalization of two other internal divisions. The first concerns an ever-present scission in experience resulting from a simultaneous peripheral awareness which accompanies every act of consciousness, and the second concerns lived temporality – the gap between the future goal and the present situation. For Sartre consciousness is always focally consciousness of its object and glancingly aware (of) itself; this supplementary awareness is enough to insure that consciousness can never coincide with itself; a gap (or nothingness) always exists at its heart. Thus, when aware of an object, consciousness is non-focally aware (of) itself as directed toward the object, and thus is divided between its focus and its ancillary grasp of itself. This non-focal aspect of consciousness becomes directed and focal when consciousness shifts into reflection, and then the initial object of the original awareness drops into the periphery; this is just one way in which reflection typically alters (and thus pollutes) the act it tries to clarify. The second split emerges in transcending the present toward the future – opening a distance between the current situation and the goal. When one reaches a goal, then another project emerges and another temporal distance opens. This thrust into the future produces one’s lived experience of time’s flow.

Sartre develops additional categories for analyzing persons, e.g. “facticity” and “transcendence.” Elements of one’s facticity are unavoidably given; one need not sustain them in order for them to continue, e.g. the fact that one will die, has a past, must be located somewhere, and has specific social definitions. Elements of one’s transcendence are chosen, and one must repeatedly sustain them if they are to continue, e.g. one’s projects, one’s values, one’s stance toward the past, one’s attitude to death, one’s choice to live here rather than elsewhere, and one’s response to the social definitions one is given. Persons always transcend the givens of the situation, imagine alternatives, and choose one on the basis of values. Values themselves are chosen and have no objective status. Persons sustain values by committing themselves to the particular actions that realize them.

When people realize the full extent of their freedom and consequent responsibility for their lives, they typically hide this awareness through self-deception (or “bad faith”), which paradoxically denies and asserts the same condition. Sartre explores the types of self-deception. Persons possess both facticity and transcendence. If one denies either dimension, one deceives oneself. If one denies an open future for which one must make choices or a determinate past for which one has responsibility, then one is self-deceived. Similarly, if one takes either factor to function like the other, one deceives oneself. If, for example, one takes the future to be fixed or the past to be completely open to interpretation, then one deceives oneself. Other examples of this duality of facticity and transcendence include the fact that one is a subject for oneself and an object to others, that one is part of nature yet always transcending it, that one exists passively embodied but always uses the body to realize projects. Sartrean authenticity requires that one face and acknowledge this dual condition.

The “look” that other people direct at one creates a social definition for oneself. To others one is “nerdy” or “scrawny” or “impetuous” or “sexy.” Though one may dispute such assessments, they have unavoidable social reality. Because the other’s judgments and actions define one, one constantly seeks to control those judgments and limit those actions. One can do this two ways: either by constantly dominating others so that they cannot return one’s look (confrontation), or by displaying oneself in a way that seduces others to see one as one wants to be seen (assimilation). Neither approach succeeds because other people’s subjectivity ultimately cannot be controlled. The very attempt to dominate others reveals their independence either because they can always recover and circumvent one’s domination or because they can remain unresponsive to one’s seductions.

For Sartre freedom always exists within the limits of a defined situation. These constraints make freedom possible and meaningful. But the situation never determines one’s choices. Even the harshest obstacles – gunpoint or prison – do not preclude one’s choice of response (one can try to disarm the assailant or escape from prison). In addition, specific choices are usually enrichments of more general choices, which Sartre calls “projects.” The project of becoming a teacher requires that one complete a specified program, and this requires that many lower-level projects be pursued. At the highest level are one’s fundamental projects; the task of Sartrean psychoanalysis is to discover these and classify them. Sartre thinks people are dimly aware of their fundamental project. Though they may be unable to state it, they can recognize it when stated by others. Sartre seeks to understand action teleologically by referring to its purposes; causal explanations cannot even begin until the goals of the action to be explained are known.

At the end of Being and Nothingness, Sartre promises an ethics, one in which authenticity is a central notion. To be authentic involves acknowledging and embracing one’s freedom and its implications. Thus, in The Flies he suggests three conditions necessary for authenticity: to engage the situation (rather than remaining indifferent to it), to explicitly choose one’s responses (rather than enact a choice one does not really endorse), and to sustain responsibility for them in the future (rather than denying or avoiding responsibility). The play’s hero, Orestes, exemplifies these conditions dramatically. In “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” Sartre suggests that persons bear responsibility for all mankind because, in acting, they offer models for all to emulate. Sartre also stresses that the world is human because no God exists to provide it a transcendent purpose or to offer indubitable support for values. The historical world and the values informing it are created entirely by persons and their choices. He also suggests that persons create themselves through their choices (rather than possessing a predetermined essence) and that abstract rules can never do justice to the situational complexity people confront in practice. Finally, he argues that since freedom is the source of any possible value, it functions as a meta-value, to be respected at all costs.

Sartre continues to elaborate his ethics in What Is Literature? and Notebooks for an Ethics (published posthumously). He uses the author–reader relationship to clarify the kind of reciprocity he thinks is possible between people. The writer’s enterprise appeals to the reader’s freedom; the reader must constitute the literary object for it to exist. Similarly, the reader appeals to the constituting freedom of the writer in the process of reading, trusting the author to produce a coherent text. Each maintains a trust in and generosity toward each other. Moreover, writing/reading underline the degree to which each person is responsible for the world simply in disclosing/revealing it. The creativity embodied in writing/reading expresses a more basic creativity operating in perception and action. Sartre wants to extend this model of reciprocity, generosity, and creativity to all social relations and to history. In the two of twelve Notebooks that survive, Sartre examines the process of conversion to a more authentic way of life. The central moment in conversion is abandoning the fundamental aspiration to be God (the foundation of one’s own freedom) and accepting one’s contingency. This forces one to see all values as fallible human creations, rather than as absolutes that haunt and terrorize human activity. Conversion overcomes the alienation into illusory objectifications of ourselves produced by others and our own desperation. It discovers the values of subjectivity: passion, pleasure in the moment, criticism, creation, and generosity. It also has a social element in that it acknowledges that the projects of each make an appeal to the actions of others to maintain and pursue those projects or explicitly indicate their flaws. His ultimate social ideal is a kingdom of ends that is pursued as an historical project, that guides political action, and that is pursued in concert with other agents seeking to sustain the conversion to authenticity each has achieved.

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Dialectical analysis of the person–world relation (1956–70)

Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason, volumes 1 and 2, his second major philosophical system, establishes a more dialectical relation between persons and their environments and examines the preconditions for historical action in the formation of various types of social groups. He also develops the tools through which periods of history can be analyzed in all their complexity. The book is introduced by a long essay, “Search for a Method,” which clarifies the progressive–regressive method, which in turn is applied in The Family Idiot. The regressive phase analyzes all the complex factors in the historical era to which individuals must respond, while the progressive phase reconstitutes the unity and development of their projects as they negotiate these factors across time. Thus, the method has an analytic moment and a synthetic moment. Important factors in the historical situation include existing traditions and institutions, specific family relations, a distinct level of technology, a class system, and competing ideologies. Each factor offers possibilities for and limits to historical action.

Sartre now interprets human relations with nature, technology, other individuals, and groups on the model of an interchange in which structural features of these “environments” are internalized as the projects of the person are externalized. The world is thus given its character by human action, but human actors are also constrained and shaped by the existing features of the world, many of which were created by past human actions. The contingent features of the current era set limits to historical achievement, but current group actions give direction to future history. Sartre sees no guarantee of historical progress, but in the second volume of the Critique he shows that conflict among groups does not necessarily lead to historical stalemate. He thinks people act historically through belonging to groups, and each group creates a social identity for its members through its structures, dynamics, and activities.

Two unique contributions of these books are Sartre’s reconsideration of a person’s relation to technology and his analysis of group life. Technology is just matter shaped by previous generations’ efforts to realize their own purposes, but the resulting tools retain their connections with such purposes so that current people reanimate these past purposes in using the tools, even if they fail to realize this. Unintended consequences of historical action become a central concern for Sartre in these works. In addition, Sartre offers a new ontological analysis of the status of groups. He rejects both the view that groups are mere conglomerations of individuals seeking their own purposes and the view that groups are ontologically distinct organic wholes that have a life of their own that determines the actions of individuals. Instead, Sartre suggests that by participating in a group individuals create/enforce a kind of group identity for themselves and other group members – becoming “common individuals” who willingly adopt the aims of the group and enforce its directives. A genuine group has collectively produced goals, and is dispersons and their environments and examines the preconditions for historical action in the formation of various types of social groups. He also develops the tools through which periods of history can be analyzed in all their complexity. The book is introduced by a long essay, “Search for a Method,” which clarifies the progressive–regressive method, which in turn is applied in The Family Idiot. The regressive phase analyzes all the complex factors in the historical era to which individuals must respond, while the progressive phase reconstitutes the unity and development of their projects as they negotiate these factors across time. Thus, the method has an analytic moment and a synthetic moment. Important factors in the historical situation include existing traditions and institutions, specific family relations, a distinct level of technology, a class system, and competing ideologies. Each factor offers possibilities for and limits to historical action. Sartre now interprets human relations with nature, technology, other individuals, and groups on the model of an interchange in which structural features of these “environments” are internalized as the projects of the person are externalized. The world is thus given its character by human action, but human actors are also constrained and shaped by the existing features of the world, many of which were created by past human actions. The contingent features of the current era set limits to historical achievement, but current group actions give direction to future history. Sartre sees no guarantee of historical progress, but in the second volume of the Critique he shows that conflict among groups does not necessarily lead to historical stalemate. He thinks people act historically through belonging to groups, and each group creates a social identity for its members through its structures, dynamics, and activities. Two unique contributions of these books are Sartre’s reconsideration of a person’s relation to technology and his analysis of group life. Technology is just matter shaped by previous generations’ efforts to realize their own purposes, but the resulting tools retain their connections with such purposes so that current people reanimate these past purposes in using the tools, even if they fail to realize this. Unintended consequences of historical action become a central concern for Sartre in these works. In addition, Sartre offers a new ontological analysis of the status of groups. He rejects both the view that groups are mere conglomerations of individuals seeking their own purposes and the view that groups are ontologically distinct organic wholes that have a life of their own that determines the actions of individuals. Instead, Sartre suggests that by participating in a group individuals create/enforce a kind of group identity for themselves and other group members – becoming “common individuals” who willingly adopt the aims of the group and enforce its directives. A genuine group has collectively produced goals, and is dispersons and their environments and examines the preconditions for historical action in the formation of various types of social groups. He also develops the tools through which periods of history can be analyzed in all their complexity. The book is introduced by a long essay, “Search for a Method,” which clarifies the progressive–regressive method, which in turn is applied in The Family Idiot. The regressive phase analyzes all the complex factors in the historical era to which individuals must respond, while the progressive phase reconstitutes the unity and development of their projects as they negotiate these factors across time. Thus, the method has an analytic moment and a synthetic moment. Important factors in the historical situation include existing traditions and institutions, specific family relations, a distinct level of technology, a class system, and competing ideologies. Each factor offers possibilities for and limits to historical action. Sartre now interprets human relations with nature, technology, other individuals, and groups on the model of an interchange in which structural features of these “environments” are internalized as the projects of the person are externalized. The world is thus given its character by human action, but human actors are also constrained and shaped by the existing features of the world, many of which were created by past human actions. The contingent features of the current era set limits to historical achievement, but current group actions give direction to future history. Sartre sees no guarantee of historical progress, but in the second volume of the Critique he shows that conflict among groups does not necessarily lead to historical stalemate. He thinks people act historically through belonging to groups, and each group creates a social identity for its members through its structures, dynamics, and activities. Two unique contributions of these books are Sartre’s reconsideration of a person’s relation to technology and his analysis of group life. Technology is just matter shaped by previous generations’ efforts to realize their own purposes, but the resulting tools retain their connections with such purposes so that current people reanimate these past purposes in using the tools, even if they fail to realize this. Unintended consequences of historical action become a central concern for Sartre in these works. In addition, Sartre offers a new ontological analysis of the status of groups. He rejects both the view that groups are mere conglomerations of individuals seeking their own purposes and the view that groups are ontologically distinct organic wholes that have a life of their own that determines the actions of individuals. Instead, Sartre suggests that by participating in a group individuals create/enforce a kind of group identity for themselves and other group members – becoming “common individuals” who willingly adopt the aims of the group and enforce its directives. A genuine group has collectively produced goals, and is distinct from a mere series, in which each person is just one among many numerically related others, e.g. a movie queue or a broadcast audience. Seriality is the zero degree of sociality; genuine groups emerge from this serial condition.

Sartre’s philosophical sociology distinguishes four basic types of groups: fused groups, pledged groups, organizations, and institutions. A fused group consists of members of a series that spontaneously discover they have a common goal, a discovery often imposed on them by violent threats. The living goal of this group emerges gradually as each person reacts to the tentatively enacted goals of the others; there are no leaders, and the group is short-lived unless its members pledge themselves to one another. The pledged group emerges when members explicitly pledge loyalty, take the group’s goals as their own, and enforce those pledges on other members. This enforcement function gives the pledged group its unity – generating both fear and brotherhood.

The organization emerges when different members of the group take on different functions, which they may perform at a distance from one another. Since each contributes to the group’s aims, each has a functional equality. In some respects the organization is the highest achievement of group unity and reciprocity, but it also contains the seeds of the kind of differential authority and inequality that emerges fully in institutions. An institution eventually loses its unity and returns into seriality because its leaders objectify the rest of the group, making them mere instruments rather than co-creating subjects. The militant strives to prevent the organization from becoming an institution by reawakening the pacified group members into a more active sense of their roles and responsibilities.

These four types of groups constitute paradigms of group life; every group exists in one of these phases. Sartre thinks most groups arise from seriality, traverse a curve toward full reciprocity, and gradually return into seriality again when leaders and led no longer recognize themselves as having common goals.

For Sartre, history is created by groups of all kinds, at all stages of development. Individuals influence history by participating in various groups. Sartre’s topic in the Critique, volume 2 is whether group conflict typically leads in some direction, however faltering, or whether it leads to stalemate. Individuals, most groups, and history itself all dynamically seek, but never quite reach, full unity. The burden of the second volume is to show that this is true despite conflicts. Sartre initially examines individual conflict (a boxing match), then a small group conflict, and finally a large group conflict (Stalin’s relation to his own party). He shows that some unifying direction emerges from each type of conflict. Each group then responds to the general direction arising from that conflict by either opposing or adopting it. Sartre’s ultimate goal is a history that is jointly produced by individuals, equally and freely, all of whom authentically choose their actions and sustain each other’s choices reciprocally.

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Lived experience and history: The Family Idiot (1971–80)

Space permits only the most cursory treatment of Sartre’s last major book, his most ambitious biographical study, which is about Flaubert. It incorporates all the social and historical elements Sartre examines in the Critique. Sartre’s goal is to understand not only Flaubert, but also his class and era. He shows how to understand anyone if one has sufficient documentation of the person’s life. Also, he seeks to clarify Flaubert’s general options at each of the crucial junctures of his life in order to better understand his specific choices. He shows how Flaubert responds to each specific configuration in his historical situation – the status of his family, his relation to his parents and brother, the ideology of his class, the novelistic tradition he inherited, etc. He thereby comprehends Flaubert’s choice of fundamental project and its concretization in Flaubert’s writing practice. He finds the same neurotic structure that governs Flaubert’s psyche operating in the collective historical actions of Flaubert’s class, and this allows Flaubert to write the defining novel of his age, Madame Bovary.

Again Sartre’s key claim is that historical agents make themselves out of the conditions that make them, and he continues to use the model of interiorization/exteriorization to understand the dialectical relation between person and world. He shows in some depth how the progressive/regressive method actually works – providing a full analysis of the factors to which Flaubert had to respond (the regressive half), and then reconstructing carefully the dynamic of his responses as they evolved over time (the progressive half). He shows how the ideologies and dynamics of his class position affected his choices and how his choices summarize the fundamental project of his class. In the course of his long study, Sartre creates a variety of new concepts that can further clarify the subtleties of lived experience.

Further reading

Key Theories of Jean-Paul Sartre

Existentialist Movement in Literature

Phenomenology


https://literariness.org/?s=+Jean-Paul+Sartre&x=0&y=0

Contat, Michel and Rybalka: Les Ecrits de Sartre: Chronologie, bibliographie commentée (Paris: Gallimard, 1970); trans. R. McCleary as The Writings of Sartre, two volumes (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1974).
Flynn, Thomas: Sartre and Marxist Existentialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).
Gerassi, John: Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of the 20th Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).
Howells, Christina: Sartre: The Necessity of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
Schroeder, William R.: Sartre and His Predecessors: The Self and the Other (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984).

Bibliography

Writings La Transcendance de l’ego [1936–7] (Paris: J. Vrin, 1965); trans. F. Williams and R. Kirkpatrick as The Transcendence of the Ego (New York: Noonday Press, 1957).
L’Nausée (Paris: Gallimard, 1938); trans. Lloyd Alexander as Nausea (New York: New Directions, 1959).
L’Etre et le néant (Paris: Gallimard, 1943); trans. Hazel Barnes as Being and Nothingness (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956).
Saint Genet: Comédien et martyr (Paris: Gallimard, 1952); trans. B. Frechtman as Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr (New York: Mentor Books, 1963).
Critique de la raison dialectique, tome I (Paris: Gallimard, 1960); trans. A. SheridanSmith as Critique of Dialectical Reason, volume 1 (London: New Left Board, 1976).
Les Mots (Paris: Gallimard, 1964); trans. B. Frechtman as The Words (New York: Braziller, 1964).
L’Idiot de la famille: Gustave Flaubert de 1821 à 1857, tomes I and II (Paris, Gallimard, 1971), tome III (1972); trans. Carol Cosman as The Family Idiot, volumes 1–5 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981–94).
Cahiers pour une morale (Paris: Gallimard, 1983); trans. D. Pellauer as Notebooks for an Ethics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
Critique de la raison dialectique, tome II (Paris: Gallimard, 1985); trans. Quentin Hoare as Critique of Dialectical Reason, volume 2 (London: New Left Board, 1991).
Verité et existence (Paris: Gallimard, 1989); trans. A. van den Hoven as Truth and Existence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

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Categories: Existentialism, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory, Philosophy, Sociology

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