“Condemned to be Free”: Introduction to the “Existential Phenomenology” of Jean-Paul Sartre

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An intellectual titan of the 20th century who influenced many — including his romantic partner Simone de Beauvoir, author of the feminist manifesto The Second Sex — Jean-Paul Sartre articulated a philosophy of “existential phenomenology” through treatises, novels, and plays. Grounded in the theoretical claim that “existence precedes essence”, this philosophy culminates in the practical claim that every human being in unavoidably “condemned to be free”. Denial of this radical freedom is characterized as “bad faith”. This course will introduce Sartre’s perspective through a close reading and discussion of selections of his major theoretical work, his most famous novel, and three of his plays. It will also set the stage for a subsequent consideration of the political philosophy of Albert Camus, who started as Sartre’s friend and ended as his enemy.

Texts
  • Mairet, “Introduction” to Existentialism and Humanism
  • Priest (ed.), Jean-Paul Sartre: The Basic Writings
  • Sartre, Nausea
  • Sartre, No Exit and Three Other Plays
TAUGHT: AUTUMN 2024

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