• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The phenomenological foundations of Sartrean Existentialism.

Extracts from this document...


The phenomenological foundations of Sartrean Existentialism April 7th 2003 A runt of a pink-feathered boa-wearing Frenchman, an iconoclast of a mid-20th century intellectual movement born out of the ashes of the Nietzschean Phoenix, and a prolific literary connoisseur all rolled into one, Jean Paul Sartre is the existentialist' existentialist. In 1943 he published his chef-d'oeuvre- L'Etre et le Neant,1 an ontological analysis of human existence. Stretching out some 800 pages, this ambitious treatise of a new phenomenology is at first whiff obscure and verbose, unforgiving for the window shopping reader. Yet with a little background on phenomenological jargon, Sartre's book is justified as an erudite attempt at a new philosophy for the human individual in the 20th century. Being born in France with philosophical aspirations, one was obliged to acknowledge the immortal French great Rene` Descartes (1596-1650). Descartes held an ideal of philosophy as a rigorous discipline, complete with all the certainty and infallibility of mathematics. For Descartes, the constant disagreement between philosophers was simply scandalous and disreputable. In formulating an indisputable, unshakable datum of philosophy within the warmth of his bread oven, Descartes concluded the immortal Latin phrase: Cogito ergo sum --I think, therefore I am. For Sartre, as well as the other existentialists, it is compulsory to agree with Descartes that the primary object for philosophical reflection is man himself. In the novel Naus�e,2 Sartre pays homage to Descartes: "I jump up: it would be much better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things... and they leave a funny taste in the mouth. Then there are words, inside the thoughts, unfinished words, a sketchy sentence, which constantly returns: 'I have to fi... I ex... Dead... M. de Roll is dead ... I am not ... I ex...' it goes, it goes... and there's no end to it. It's worse than the rest because I feel responsible and have complicity in it. ...read more.


In the act of reflecting I pass judgment on the consciousness reflected-on; I am ashamed of it, I am proud of it, I will it, I deny it, etc." I could be watching a soap opera, and it would occupy my entire consciousness. The self is missing unless I reflect upon my experience of the soap opera, then the self emerges, the 'I' is now within my consciousness. Hence, by its nature as awareness, consciousness is the "pre-reflectively cogito." No laws inhibit it, given that Sartre states it is "futile to invoke pretended laws of consciousness" while laws are "transcendent objects of knowledge; there can be a consciousness of law, not a law of consciousness." When one experiences a pleasure, he is doubly aware of the experience and indirectly aware of himself in pleasure. Claiming that there is no division between the object and the consciousness of the object, Sartre also infers that there is no logical difference between watching and the consciousness of watching: "Pleasure cannot exist 'before' consciousness of pleasure- not even in the form of potentiality or potency. A potential pleasure can exist only as consciousness (of) being potential. Potencies of consciousness exist only as consciousness of potencies." Pleasure does not vanish into its own self-consciousness, for it is a "concrete event, full and absolute." This avoids idealism, which installs consciousness as an independent existence, a substance that subsists itself. 'Being for consciousness,' foreshortened later in the second half of L'�tre as "being-for-itself," is a brute existence that has a principal characteristic Sartre calls 'activity.' It is dependent on matter, for without matter there would be no consciousness. In opposition, the transphenomenal being of phenomena, being-in-itself has a character of an "incomplete inactivity" for any relationship to itself, in Sartre's language, "opaque" and "coincides exactly with itself." it is self-contained, and that being is in itself. Sartre has made a metaphysical claim that he is a dualist, that there are two forms of beings, unlike the later Husserl. ...read more.


I could envision the possibility of not completing this essay, which is bringing about nothingness between me and the future possibility of a complete essay, and causing the concrete possibility of a negation. This leads to anguish. I can also envision causal chains to explain my behavior and recede to the comfort of habits in order to avoid the ramifications of Anguish. Yet "I cannot help constituting them as living possibility, that is as having the possibility of becoming my possibility." Instead of anguish, I conceive of my past as my true self. Sartre dismisses this attempt to sink into facticity, saying this is nothing but the object formed by reflecting on my past behavior, that "we are always ready to take refuge in a belief in determinism. If this freedom weighs upon us too heavily or if we need an excuse." All attempts to flee from anguish are fruitless, "for we are anguish." "I am what I wish to veil." The attempt of "expelling anguish from consciousness" and "of constituting it in an unconscious psychic phenomenon" is self-deception, or Bad faith. 1 French for Being and Nothingness 2 Nausea 3 The return to the things themselves, the bracketing out of the real, existence, the thing in themselves, excluded as unknowable. This claim is a rejection of Idealism. 4 Husserl's pure ego is his homage to Descartes and Kant. It is the assertion that the ego is the subject of consciousness, but Sartre treats consciousness in two aspects: negatively and positively. Negatively it is a denial of Husserl's doctrine of the ego, and positively it is a determination of Sartre's own egoless consciousness. 5 Being and Time 6 German for "thing in itself." 7 Noema is a perceptual content of a phenomenological description of a perceptual experience, the object that is intended. The noema of a hallucination is an intentional act, even if the hallucination lacks a corresponding entity in reality. Noema is correlated with noesis, which is what gives sense to the immanent object of consciousness - believing, remembering, valuing, etcetera - the act of intending. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Philosophy and Theology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Philosophy and Theology essays

  1. Waiting For Godot and Existentialism

    Now with the past barely recognizable and the future unknown, the present situation becomes important as Existentialist theories believe that time causes perceptional confusion e.g. Estragon asks, "What did we do yesterday". They also vaguely remember the Bible, which is symbolic to the breakdown of the 20th century.

  2. Discuss the merits and demerits of cartesian dualism. Should it have any appeal today, ...

    Though we are able to conceive of thought as a faculty that is not extended, we cannot conceive this faculty existing on its own; it is always seen as the faculty of a body to think. Thought itself may not be extended, but it is incomplete as it stands along

  1. Identify two differences between naïve and representative realism.

    For empiricists, the mind is a tabula rasa (a blank slate) upon which all our knowledge is inscribed after we learn. Following empiricist ideas, such as those of the Scottish philosopher, David Hume, the only things we know are things that have causal relationships, i.e.

  2. Kant's Philosophy

    priori or a posteriori methods, is a necessary condition of the possibility of being aware of one's own existence23. It would not be possible to be aware of myself as existing, he says, without presupposing the existing of something permanent outside of me to distinguish myself from.

  1. Existentialism - a philosophical movement that developed during the 19th and 20th centuries

    At outset of the play, Rosencrantz remains oblivious to any oddity and their coin-tossing, describing the improbable run as 85 heads as merely a new record. The destiny which awaits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern consists of nothing for which they are prepared.

  2. Does quantum mechanics, in particular the phenomena of superposition and entanglement, provide a case ...

    For example, we may use Euclidean geometry in various works of engineering because it is a close enough approximation to the truth. However, it is still the case that, despite being a useful approximation, it is incorrect - the correct geometry is non-Euclidean (* is this true?

  1. World Poverty and Human Rights Philosophy Essay. This philosophy essay is critical analysis of ...

    we apply to a societal scale as Rawls does and even to a global scale as Pogge does. The argument for reducing the level inequalities between peoples at a global scale is quite different in nature compared to that at an interpersonal level.

  2. Egalitarianism accentuates inequality

    But surely equally deserving people should benefit from equal outcomes (ex post equality). Thus it is the role of the state to supervise and intervene where necessary to maintain equality. At this point a prioritarian- who believes that the best outcome is that which generates the highest level of aggregate

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work