Jean-Paul Sartre was a 20th century intellectual, writer, and activist. He was born June 21, 1905, in Paris, France. As a child Sartre was a small cross-eyed boy, who did not have much friends; he would spend most of his time dreaming and thinking. Some say his background as a child led to his success as an adult. Later in his life he studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure and became Professor of Philosophy at Le Havre in 1931. Between 1931 and 1934, he taught high school in Le Havre, Lyon, and Paris. His first major breakthrough as a writer came in 1938 with his novel Nausea.
Then in 1939, Sartre was drafted into the French army, where he served as a meteorologist. He was captured by German troops in 1940 and spent nine months as a prisoner of war; although being a prisoner helped shape Sartre. He wrote some of his major works while in prison, and it changed his process of thought at the same time. His pre-war work is largely a defense of individual freedom and human dignity; in his post-war writing, he elaborates on these themes and strongly emphasizes the idea of social responsibility.
In October 1964, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He declined the prize saying, “A writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution” (Frentz). He was the first Nobel Laureate to do so. Sartre’s lived with very few possessions; he committed to humanitarian and political causes until the end of his life. Jean-Paul Sartre died in Paris on April 15, 1980, from pulmonary edema at the age of seventy-four. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an incredible amount of works during his lifetime. One of his first major works was Nausea, which he wrote 1938. Nausea was his first novel; he wrote while he was teaching at Le Havre.
Nausea is about a 30-year-old Antoine Roquentin who, returned from years of travel, settles in the fictional French seaport town of Bouville to finish his research on the life of an 18th-century political figure. But becomes very sick, as he calls nausea, which does not allow him to do the things he enjoys in life. He starts to hate existence, but then in his resolution in the book he accepts the indifference of the physical world to man’s aspirations. Ten years later, Sartre wrote another famous work, but this was a play called Dirty Hands. Dirty Hands takes places in a fictional country in Eastern Europe called Illyria, during the later stages of World War II.
Hugo, the main character, is released from prison, after the assassination of Hoederer, leader of the proletariat, and went to Olga, his protector, who will examine his case and whether politics can integrate People’s Party. The play examines the reasons that led Hugo to kill Hoederer. Dirty Hands teaches us that even the worst cannot be done without the consent of the person who actually needs to assume and assert his actions. One of his best philosophic essays is, Being and Nothingness, is known to be his greatest articulation of his existentialist philosophy.
It is about phenomenological ontology, which is a study of the consciousness of being. Jean-Paul Sartre frequently characterizes humans in terms of the idea of nothingness in this text. His main purpose was to assert the individual’s existence as prior to the individual’s essence. Jean-Paul Sartre has many more famous works. Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, who had major contributions to philosophy. He is considered the father of Existentialist philosophy; he questioned his existence as a free person greatly. His purpose was to understand human existence rather than the world as such, adopting and adapting the methods of phenomenology.
Phenomenology is the study of the development of human consciousness and self-awareness. He believed individuals act out a label given to them, accepting beliefs such as fate, instead of understanding one’s total freedom. Sartre believed all people always had choices; there is no given meaning in life. It is up to all individuals to find their own meaning. Therefore they had freedom in all situations, but with freedom come responsibility. Sartre assumed that if god doesn’t exist then no set rules of right or wrong could possibly exist and it is upon each individual`s realization of this that one can attain true freedom.
Sartre was known for his ideas of existentialism. When reading Sartre’s Nausea he takes us on a journey, lived through the main protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, who is completely lacking emotion in his life. Nausea is the journal of Antoine Roquentin. In this story, Roquentin is writing a story of a man named Rolleman, an 18th century historical figure. To start his writing, he emerged himself in the life of this man, studying all things about this man.
The way in which Roquentin writes the novel is similar to how a scientist would attempt to analyze a phenomenon; by intricately noting down everything that happens to him. While readers read this story they start to see a theme of social estrangement of the character. “The nausea creeps in at times when dealing with any of the three characters and I believe that Sartre has introduced them into the story as pillars which have to be knocked down and overcome before you he can finally be free” (Karam). Sartre expands upon this idea in his Being and Nothingness, saying inanimate objects constitute being-in-itself, while humans with consciousness are beings-for-itself.
“This feeling of nausea arises when he seems to perceive objects in the world devoid of their primary qualities- that is, without essence just pure abstract existence: (Karam). Sartre’s philosophy, that in man and life existence precedes essence, the pure foundation of our reality unable to be described in virtue of its paradoxically nothingness. There are a lot of major themes underlying in Nausea, we see glimpses of anti- humanism by the portrayal of the pedantic self-taught man and witnessing three instances of sexual perversion in an effort to undermine humanism. Sartre explores the existentialist question of human and existence.
Nausea follows Sartre’s beliefs behind his previous books; the belief of existence precedes essence. He wrote this book in an interesting manner, it was many journal entries and observations of the main character, Roquentin, which I enjoyed. Roquentin begins to understand that his feelings of Nausea have something to do with the question of existence. He claims all people are afraid to exist and do not truly know the importance of objects just their physical characteristics. Throughout the book, Roquentin resolves to free himself from the past by embracing his existence in the present.
After reading the excerpt I think Roquentin is confused with his life and existence at first, but then through his experience he realizes his importance and meaning in life. Nothingness is a force that makes up a purposeless reality, but which also inspires action. Roquentin is critical thinker; his journal entries are very detailed with characteristics. I could tell Sartre’s beliefs are underlined Roquentin’s journal entries. I agree with Sartre’s beliefs that true freedom is attained through oneself; humans are responsible for themselves. I appreciate Sartre’s logic and perspective on life.
In summary, Jean-Paul Sartre, was a very fascinating person. He spent most of his life in Paris, France, that is where he was born and died. He is a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He is most known for his founding on existentialism, a very interesting belief of existence preceding essence. Sartre was also the first person who won a Nobel Prize for literature who refused it. His work and life teachings inspired many other people in their lives. Works Cited Desan, Wilfrid. “Jean-Paul Sartre (French Philosopher and Author).
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