• Unit 6: Jean-Paul Sartre

    Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) is the public face of existentialism. His works, both fictional and philosophical, resoundingly affirm the existentialist priority of concrete, situated, and historical human existence. He stresses the value of choice, responsibility, and authenticity in human self-fashioning. Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 – an honor he refused because he maintained that it conflicted with his professional, personal, and political commitments. This unit will introduce you to Sartre's contributions to existentialist philosophy while simultaneously highlighting Sartre's place in the movement's history. In particular, you will explore how Sartre expanded on existentialist themes dealt with by his predecessors – for example, the notions of authenticity, anxiety, and freedom.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

    • 6.1: Sartre's Development

    • 6.2: Sartre's Existentialism

        • 6.2.1: "Being and Nothingness"

        • 6.2.2: "Existentialism Is a Humanism" (1945)

        • 6.2.3: Themes in Sartre's Existentialism

      • 6.3: Sartre's Idea that "Existence Precedes Essence"

        • 6.4: Sartre on Our Greatest Burden

            • 6.4.1: The Burden of Freedom

            • 6.4.2: Sartre's Critique of Mass Society: "Hell Is Other People"

          • Unit 6 Assessment