Who is Jean-Paul Sartre?

Who is Jean-Paul Sartre?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre with his full name and known as Jean-Paul Sartre was a famous French writer and philosopher who lived between 21 June 1905 and 15 April 1980.

In addition to his philosophical novels, he has also made a name for himself with his existentialist philosophy, which he developed in every aspect; In addition to these, he became one of the thinkers who left his mark on the 20th century with his shaping of Existential Marxism and his activities in politics.

First of all, as a narrator, essayist, novelist, philosopher and activist, he not only represented the French intellectuals, but also represented a unique intellectual definition.


According to Sartre, our purpose in philosophizing is to understand our life and experiences and evaluate them in terms of our priorities. For this we need philosophical, especially ontological analysis.

The main problem that draws Sartre’s philosophical path is the problem of the relation of freedom to reality. This intellectual journey has three moments: In the first moment, the problem is the question of what is the relation of consciousness to the world.

Jean-Paul Sartre

What makes consciousness conscious and the emergence of the world is explained by intentionality. At this moment, the conceptual ground of Sartre’s thought is prepared.

The main problem in the second and third moments is the relationship between “freedom” and “reality”. In the second moment, “Being and Nothingness”, my free projects affect how my reality will appear to me. In the third moment, in the “Critique of Dialectical Reason,” this thesis, which has been criticized as bourgeois individualism, is reconsidered. By synthesizing phenomenology and Marx, the relationship between freedom and reality is discussed with its historical and political dimensions.

Sartre, Husserl’s intentionality “Every consciousness is consciousness of something.” he agrees with the definition. However, he states that intentionality does not mean that an introverted consciousness comes out. There is no immanence in consciousness, consciousness is a movement of transcendence. This is why Sartre also opposes the existence of a transcendental ego.

According to him, thanks to intentionality, things and consciousness are given in a single move. On the other hand, when consciousness examines its own states, it creates a new object that did not exist before, an ego. Thus Sartre rejects both Husserl and Descartes.

Sartre begins Being and Nothingness by making a distinction between consciousness and reality outside of consciousness. In Transcendence of the Ego, he argued that intentionality is transcendence.

In Being and Nothingness, he says that consciousness is also in relationship with a transcendent being. Consciousness does not create the world, the world appears to consciousness on the ground of a transcendent being that already exists independently of consciousness.

This manifestation is not independent of consciousness. A being that is not consciousness itself is revealed in consciousness. Consciousness reveals it to itself by virtue of its intentionality. Just like Kant’s thing-in-itself, being-in-itself is inaccessible, it appears in relation to consciousness as the world we experience.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre’s views on political philosophy are not dogmatic, reductionist, purposive and deterministic. It reevaluates the role of freedom in history. He argues that all praxis is the creator of history, but he also states that this praxis is not arbitrary and accidental.

He argues that correct assessments require taking into account given circumstances and treating events in their singularity. This understanding, which argues that common freedom can only be realized with the end of exploitation, associates emancipation with social justice.

Sartre and Existentialism

The philosopher that comes to mind when it comes to existentialism is Jean Paul Sartre. In fact, Sartre not only occupies an important place in existentialism, it is accepted by many that he is the model philosopher of the 20th century.

Indeed, Sartre not only established a philosophical system, being the most important representative of the movement called existentialism, and even the founder according to many, but also wrote novels, plays, made literary criticism and took action.

Accordingly, Sartre tried to influence the course of international events through his political analysis and his activism, embodied, for example, in his opposition to the Algerian and Vietnam Wars.

Jean-Paul Sartre

In addition to his existentialism, Sartre, who challenged the dominant theories of his time, for example, while trying to reshape Marxism, revising Freud’s way of understanding people, philosophically dealt with everything related to the nature of human beings and their daily life.

While establishing Sartre’s system, he is considered to have been heavily influenced, among other things, by Husserl’s phenomenology. It is even said to express this effect that he grew out of Heidegger’s knee just as Heidegger grew out of Husserl’s knee.

He is, on the other hand, a rigorous theorist who reveals all the details of a philosophical system, refuting the idea that existential philosophers are anti-system philosophers.

Related topics:

The route of Sartre’s philosophy