"Being and Nothingness" was based on Sartre's interpretion of Heidegger's phenomenology of "Dasein" (being there, one's experience of the present) as "thrown", or random and uncontrollable. Despite the difficulties he was experiencing during this time for his never revoked alignment with National Socialism and the ways in which Sartre's enthusiasm benefitted him, Heidegger felt he had no choice but to denounce Sartre and his views in the essay, "Exisentialism is Not a Humanism" (in direct confrontation with Sartre's apologia "Existentialism is a Humanism"). In the mid 1950s, following Nikita Kruschev's revelation of the actual history of the Soviet Union under Stalin, Sartre's undaunted vamping for the Communist Party was seen by most as grotesque and distasteful. His rationale was that in the face of the meaninglessness of existence, all that mattered was that a decision be made, even if it was absurd. His presence in French media continued but his thought was utterly discredited amongst French philosophers by the time of Michel Foucault's emergence into prominence in the early 1960s. Of course, this was just the time that he was becoming well known and influential in the U.S. This phenomenon is quite familiar and continues. Jacques Derrida has had no credibility in France since the late 1970s but throughout the late 1980s and 1990s his philosophy of Deconstruction and the post-modern (aka Po-Mo) marginal was tremendously influential. It is perhaps to blame for the bloat of Cultural Studies prevalent in American academia.

Nonetheless, Sarte's relationship with Simone de Beauvoir earns him a bit of a place in 20th century history.

Once remarked that "Any anti-communist is a dog!" Tried to use his influence to promote the absurd argument that North Korea didn't start the Korean War. Argued that intellectuals should ignore the evidence of the rise of the Soviet forced-labor camps, because talking about them might play into the hands of the French right. As millions starved to death in the camps, Sartre wrote: "As we were neither members of the party nor avowed sympathisers it was not our duty to write about Soviet labour camps; we were free to remain aloof from the quarrel over the nature of this system, provided no events of sociological significance had occurred." Unfortunately Sartre was very influential at the time he made these arguments, and many western intellectuals who agreed with this thinking played dupes for Stalin.

Speaking for herself and Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir once wrote (in The Prime of Life) that she and Sartre were "temperamentally opposed to the idea of reform," because peaceful change was less sanguine to their temperaments than violent revolution.

I disagree with your suggestion that the Soviet Union was only revealed as evil when Khruschev gave his "secret speech." First of all, the speech was extremely slanted. It only dealt with Stalin's abuses which were directed at party members. He had nothing to say, for instance, for the 7 million Ukranians wiped out by a deliberately planned regional famine. Kruschev's motives were more political: he wanted to protect his power by discrediting those who aligned themselves with Stalin's positions on various arguments (such as the organization of the Comintern). Secondly, there were numerous accounts of the horrors that had gone on in the Soviet Union. People like Sartre simply chose to ignore them, unless perhaps they came from someone who happened to be a Soviet communist himself. It is a fact that Sartre only admitted that torture existed in the USSR when Kruschev said it had. But before this event, he helped to discredit and humiliate the first-hand witnesses of such abuses. Interestingly, Sartre didn't display such fervent skepticism regarding accusations of terror involving his own government.

While one may convincinlgy argue that Jean Paul Sartre made some unenviable choices in his political life, the fact remains that his philosophical musings enjoy well earned respect. To suggest that Sartre is discredited for his political views is to resort to the classic form of argument against the person: the ad hominem attack. Some of the previous write-ups have engaged in exactly this attack, and sadly, it is an attack that does not bear much weight in evaluating Sartre's philosophical ideas.

Furthermore, the reader is left to wonder why Sartre's alleged discrediting in France should have any bearing on how the rest of the world should evaluate Sartre's ideas. ( And note, no empirical evidence of any kind is given to support that Sartre is discredited in France, rather, it is merely suggested that other thinkers have come along challenging his ideas. C'est tout on that regard). The French, as far as I know, have no strangle-hold on evaluating the merits of any ideas. Why, it is rumored that the French have elevated Mickey Rourke and Jerry Lewis to the level of "artistes". Je ne comprend pas.

French thinker born in 1905, engagement philosopher, existentialist, writer, Nobel Prize winner (he declined it).
His existentialist philosophy, proposes no god, no ethic, no moral, and was meant to be a cleaning of the old secular values, where god is replaced by some ethical statements. It completely denied the existence of some kind of rules on to behave. The solution was the subject being conscious of his position towards the world, his question was made to be: "What would happen if all acted this way?"
The decision of the subject in good faith, and freedom, was the real act of man.

His literature, not meant to be a completion of his philosophical work, but a parallel creation, nevertheless contained a lot of his philosophical symbols and the characters were situated inside the existential anguish that Sartre described as the consequence of freedom.

Here are some of Sartre's more memorable and delectable citations or extracts:

”I have replaced my earlier notion of consciousness (although I still use the word a lot), with what I call le vecu - ‘lived experience’. I will try to describe in a moment what I mean with this term, which is neither the preconscious, nor the unconscious, nor consciousness, but the terrain in which the individual is perpetually overflowed by himself and his riches and consciousness plays the trick of determining itself by forgetfulness.” (1969)

“A simple formula would be to say that life taught me la force des chosesthe power of circumstances.” (1969)

“But the most striking feature of the man, it seems to me, was the metaphysical anguish which he endured so openly and modestly. Not a single day passed without him being tempted to kill himself. But this suspended death gave him a kind of charming and destructing irony - his native intelligence, which was above all the art of finding and establishing in his daily life, and even in his perception, a lethal duet to which he submitted all the objects of this world.” (Mallarme: the poetry of suicide)

garcin: Wait a minute, there's a snag somewhere; something disagreeable. Why, now, should it be disagreeable? ...Ah, I see; it's life without a break.
valet: What are you talking about?
garcin: Your eyelids. We move ours up and down. Blinking, we call it. It’s like a small black shutter that clicks down and makes a break. Everything goes black; one's eyes are moistened. You can't imagine how restful, refreshing, it is. Four thousand little rests per hour. Four thousand little respites--just think!...So that's the idea. I'm to live without eyelids.
huis clos: Wait a minute, there's a snag somewhere; something disagreeable. Why,now,should it be disagreeable? ...Ah,I see; it's life without a break.(Huis Clos)



Biography of the man:
1905 - born 21 June
1906 - 21 September his father dies, due to a lung disease. Sartre goes to Paris with his mother, to live with his grandparents
1914 - First World War
1917 - His mother marries Joseph Mancy
1917 - Enters the Lyceum of La Rochelle
1918 - First World War ends - Starts teaching in Lyceum
1938 - Publishes La Nausee
1939 - Second World War starts. He enters the army as a meteorologist, June 21
1940 - Taken prisoner by the German force.
1941 - March: regains freedom. April 2nd, returns to Paris after a year spent out of the city
1943 - June 3rd Les Mouches
1943 - June: Nothingness and being
1944 - Huis Clos
1944 - Paris is liberated
1945 - Travels to USA
1954 - Travels to USSR
1958 - The Freud Scenario
1960 - Critique de la raison dialectique
1960 - Travel to Cuba
1960 - Camus dies
1967 - Travel to Israel
1964 - Wins Nobel prize and rejects it
1970 - Becomes director of la cause du people
1972 - Sartre par lui meme by contat and astruc
1978 - Publishes Pouvoir et Liberte in Temps Modernes
1980 - April 15, dies in Broussais hospital

In 1935, Sartre experimented briefly with mescaline, the only psychedelic drug available at the time. A couple of days later, he started having the persistent impression that he was being pursued by a giant lobster. The hallucinations lasted for some time - some sources say almost a year - and were a cause of concern to the budding existentialist.

The pivotal scene in his (1938) La Nausee, in which Roquentin, the hero, experiences a loss of the boundaries that his conceptual structures impose on the world, 'merging' with his immediate surroundings, (starting with a tree, as I recall) is very reminiscent of a description of a psychedelic experience.

Given that this passage is often taken as his presentation in literary form of the idea of the en-soi - 'being in itself' - it may not be going too far to attribute a significant role to his mescaline experience in the development of this idea, presented more explicitly in the weighty Being and Nothingness (L'Etre et le Neant) - though of course it wasn't the only factor: Sartre had already spent a year in Berlin (around 1933) in order to hear Edmund Husserl's lectures, and so on.

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