Sartre and His Philosophy

The great French literary critic Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris in 1905. This French Philosopher studied at the École Normale Superieure from 1924 till the year of 1929. He became the Professor of Philosophy at Le Havre in 1931. Based on a stipend from the Institute Francais he studied in Berlin in the year 1932, the Philosophies of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. After he had taught at Le Havre, and then in Laon, he went to Lycee Pasteur in Paris from 1937 till 1939. His recognition as an independent writer started since the end of the Second World War.

“A determined Philosophical position is the centre of their artistic being”, Sartre is included in those writers. He was an ally of the Marxist Movement.



Sartre not being a nihilist believed that life must have meaning. It is an imperative. But it is we ourselves who must create this meaning in our lives. Thus, “To exist is to create your own life.” Existentialism was his mark. Sartre was the leading light among the existentialists_ at least, to the broader public. Just after the war forties was the period of his popularity. Despite being born in a bourgeoisie family, Sartre had been an anti-bourgeois Philosopher. Sartre adopted Writing as a response to life. His writing carries the testimony of an average soldier. When literary look up to him, he is seen questing, searching, explaining, formulating and reformulating those ideas which appear to us as purely a Sartrean mark.

Sartre’s Philosophy of existentialism can be viewed in the following events:

The allegiance of Sartre was what we might call Atheistic Existentialism. The philosophy of Sartre is shown as a merciless analysis of the human situation when _ God is dead. His struggle for authenticity has agony, severe insistence on absolute freedom and responsibility, overthrowing of any transcendent measure for morals and ethics, in-depth analysis of man’s relation with the surrounding people.

READ ALSO:  Essay on Safer Internet Day: Together for a better internet

Keyword: Existence

By existence, Sartre does not mean the same as being alive. Plants and animals also have life, they exist, but they do not have to think about what it implies. He regarded man as the only living creature that is conscious of its own existence. Simple saying of Sartre that material thing is ‘in itself’ but mankind is ‘for itself’. Sartre regarded the own foundation to be the first value and first object of will.

Totalisation is a process in which an entity composed of multiple parts_ constitutes itself as a totality i.e. a thing_ a thing-in-itself or for itself. Sartre divided the notion of totality into two according to him activities are of two types by means of which an entity is totalized; firstly, the activity of those who inhabit the thing, and secondly those who create the thing. Thus totalisation is both subjective and objective. It is a process which is regarded both a product and a force of production, both material and immaterial.

Existence and Essence

Man’s existence takes priority over whatever he might be otherwise. I exist takes priority over what I am, is a fact. “Existence takes priority over Essence.”
To understand this complicated statement we should see the meaning of essence i.e. which something consists of_ the nature, or being, of something. But Sartre has claimed man deprived of such innate nature. Man must therefore create himself. The ‘essence’ or nature is not fixed in advance and must be created on his own. Sartre’s philosophy of the thing-in-itself has a never-ending flow and infinity within it. His thinking of man’s ‘basic project’ is to be his own foundation that is to be, God_ holds the centre of his philosophy. His philosophical approach regards man having a desire to be completely sovereign, autonomous, self-sufficient, once again the desire to be God. And also pride which has proven conventionally to justify Sartre’s constitutional uneasiness with anything threatening to the idea of mastery and self-control.

READ ALSO:  Essay on a Thrush for Children

Reality and Angst

Of being alive and dying one day, a fact when realized by people and there is no sense to cling to_ an experience of angst is observed. Sartre recalled this angst, a sense of dread, characteristic of a person in an existential situation.


According to Sartre without meaning, man feels alien in the world. The descriptions of man’s alienation embody a sense of despair, boredom, nausea and absurdity, within which echo the central ideas of Hegel and Marx. “It is quite normal to feel depressed, or to feel that everything is just too boring.” His negation of having friends and presentation of the idea of self-sufficiency in own self makes him derive all the potential and substance from his own being.

Individual Praxis

It is defined as conscious purposive activity. In which Sartre points out that it is only possible in a material environment of human activity or worked matter. In which humans are connected by language, customs and traditions, and every other non-material thing even buildings and other standing structures.

It gives the concept of Moral universalism, which creates acceptance for other beings among modern people.

Being Identical

Sartre focuses well on the fact that the diversity of people is converged through their common interests. According to him, we all have come in this world with the same purpose. He gave the concept of the subjectivity of Fused Group in which everyone shares same sentiments and reaches a point to follow same actions and thus a consensus is developed among people of the group to obey the same orders collectively.

Concept of Freedom

Sartre stated, “Man is condemned to be free.” He has described the twentieth-century city dweller. The Renaissance humanists had drawn attention, most successfully to man’s freedom. Sartre faced freedom as a curse. The condemnation to freedom was because Man has not created Himself – and is nevertheless free. Because after his advent in the world, he is responsible for everything he does. This freedom condemns man to make choices throughout his life. There is no concept of sticking to eternal values and norms, which could show any significance for the choices. Sartre’s point of emphasis has been that man must not overlook the fact that he cannot disclaim the responsibility of his actions. We cannot even overlook the responsibility of making our own choices on the basis that we must ‘go to work’, or we ‘must’ live up to some middle-class expectations concerning how we should live. Sartre’s opinions on ‘human freedom’ and responsibility have the potential to provide a powerful antidote to the idea that resistance and change to the capitalist system we live in today is close to impossible.

READ ALSO:  Essay on Republic Day in English For Students & Children

Nature is Revenging

Sartre could foresee how nature can be revenging in throwing upon humans the results of their activities. Besides fulfilling all material needs of people nature also plays a role against humans, which Sartre has referred to as ‘inverted practice’.

Idea of Self – Deception

Extracted from the concept of freedom, the idea of self-deception is implied on those who slip into the unknown masses and can never be other than members of the impersonal flock, having fled from themselves into self-deception. Contrary to this our freedom bounds us to ‘make something of ourselves’, to live ‘authentically’ or ‘truly’. He has technically discussed the concept of Nothingness; the nature of wants n wills, and the structure of consciousness. Sartre negates the need of having friends, he considers his own self sufficient enough to fulfil that particular need.

Old-Adam, Blame game and Ethical choices

Sartre regards it against the ethical choices to blame ‘human nature’, or ‘human frailty’. He observes that these days men grow up to behave like pigs and then blame it on the “Old-Adam’. But according to Sartre, there is no Old-Adam, of which he describes that he is merely a figure we clutch at to avoid taking responsibility for our own action.

There ought to be a limit to what man can be blamed for. Sartre has greatly condemned the notion of reification of treating people as objects, considering them as mean rather than ends. Sartre was a moralist but hardly a moralist.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter

Have something to say

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.