Jean-Paul Sartre is a French philosopher, novelist, play-write, and journalist. He is mostly recognized for his leadership in French Existentialism. After questioning his own ideas he gave up his own ideas, and started to support Marxism. Existentialism was the ideology that he is mostly known and supported for.
Jean Paul was born on June 21, 1905 and was schooled at Evole Normale Superieure in Paris, University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and the French Institute in Berlin. From 1929 he taught philosophy at some secondary schools. Resulting in the start of World War II, he was drafted into the military. Sometime during 1940-1941 he was captured by the Germans, and was later released. After his return to France he taught in Neuilly, and Paris. He became fond of and later joined the French Resistance. There he developed his major philosophic work ” Being and Nothingness (1943)” In 1945 he gave up teaching and founded the political and literary magazine Les Temps Modernes. He was very profound in his struggle against Socialism. Later he supported Soviet positions but criticized their policies. In the 1950s he wrote many pieces of literature on political problems. In 1964 Sartre won the Nobel Prize in literature, saying that he refuses to compromise his integrity as a writer, he refuses to accept the prize. He then becomes an outcast in society, for having turned on Existentialism and lives out his life in poor health and a few radical followers.
In the dictionary the translation of Existentialism is a branch of philosophy based on the concept of an absurd universe where humans have free will, and that humans are responsible for and the sole judge of their actions as they affect others. This philosophy proposes that there is no g-d, and no ethics. Man replaces g-d, and ethics are replaced persons personal morals. This kind of society states that man alone effects all things around him, and there is no outside force that effects objects in any kind of manner. Also in this kind of society the decisions of men are dependent on the individuals good faith, and freedom is an act of man not G-d. Sartre himself found Existentialism to inconclusive and later chose Marxism over his prior beliefs.
“Being and Nothingness” was one of Sartre early works on Existentialism. In this book he wrote that humans are the beings who create their own world by rebelling against authority and by accepting personal responsibility for their actions. I find that this belief shows that rules are not given by a Supreme Being but by the authoritarian in charge. When a person breaks one of the laws or rules the authority punishes them, by serving out the punishment the person is accepting responsibility. This I think is a very contemporary way of thinking, but I think he is correct. A Supreme Being does not give laws to us. When I think of it all governments set up their laws as they see fit, in some countries people arent aloud to speak against their government, while in others you are as long as the person doesnt commit an act of treason. Also there are no two governments that have the same exact laws, which shows each person in charge has different demands on their people.
Another belief that he expresses in his works is “to choose this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. We always choose the good and nothing can be good for us without being good for all.” This idea say when a person is given a choice of things, a person will choose something that is good for them, since its good for them another person would benefit from it, the same way the person that chose it. I do not think that this belief is thought out all the way it is more of a play on words then anything. What can be good for one person can be bad for another. Since people take advantage of others you can never be sure of the persons intentions. So by that something that one can consider good for them another person can suffer from it. Maybe sometimes an object can be good for all that have it but during certain times not everytime.
A very important concept that Sartre stressed was human free will. “As individuals are free, from the point of conception, they define their essence though out their existence. A persons nature is what he or she has done in the past and what that person is doing at the moment. No one is complete until death when self-definition ceases. Then, how others interpret the individual is based upon the individuals accomplishments and failings” In reality this concept is correct if someone was a great man or woman that means they did great things when they were living. If someone did not do anything worthwhile means the person did not accomplish much. But now days having a family, living a good honest life is an accomplishment. No, the person did not to anything special but those are their accomplishments. When death takes a persons life they can do no more, and that is when their accomplishment cease and that is when the persons self-definition ceases. That is true but some people get credit or get it stolen after their death which gives them more value then they deserve.
Sartre was a very open minded individual he believed that people can be more then one thing and any given moment, and that consciousness of a person can be different then the human being. This is a modern day idea too, a person is not seen as an occupation anymore. Each person does not have just one thing that they can be. People can do whatever they please, whenever they please as long as it doesnt break any laws. People now days go search for themselves, they guit their jobs, change their lifestyles and other things. Just cause one thing is one thing during a course of time, does not mean it cant change. These ideas are accepted by todays society by almost anybody. Also if a person can do thing that they do not think are right. A person lies, steals, and cheats at anytime. Not because they want to, but because they have to, or feel the need to at that point in time.
Sartre had a lot of double standards during his life. His opinions changed, his occupations changed, and his surroundings changed. He searched throughout his life for a good system. He tried many things out and his ideas progresed or weakened. He spent the end of his life with little money, little friends, and a lot of critics. His main idea which he had and never changed was “morality arises from the fact that all choices affect others, physically and emotionally. Social responsibility results from the interdependencies of individuals. Since any living person is engaged in the process of defining self and others, ethics develop accordingly. Since the existentialist values free will and wants others to respect his or her freedom, the ethical system developed is based upon free expression.”