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Jean-Paul Sartre: biography of this existentialist philosopher

Jean-Paul Sartre: biography of this existentialist philosopher

April 7, 2024

Jean-Paul Sartre is a well-known figure in the field of philosophy and literature , being considered one of the parents of contemporary existentialism. Philosopher, writer and political activist, considered that the human being is a free being and as such should be responsible for their own destiny, although there may be external conditioning factors.

In addition, Sartre is also known for his political activism, maintaining a complex relationship with communism. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although he decided to decline the award because of his personal beliefs. To understand your worldview it may be useful to understand your life, which is why in this article we are going to review a short biography of Jean-Paul Sartre , who marked the philosophy of the twentieth century.

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Brief biography of Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was born on June 21, 1905 in the city of Paris, France, being the son of a Navy officer named Jean Baptiste Sartre and Anne Marie Schweitzer .

However, a few months after his father was born, he died from an illness contracted during his travels. His mother, with the help of Jean-Paul's maternal grandparents, would educate him in a stimulating and intellectual environment. His grandfather also initiated him in the interest for the arts.

Academic formation of this philosopher

In 1915, at the age of ten, Sartre entered the Lycée Henri IV in Paris to begin his education . However, his mother would meet and contract remarriage with Joseph Mancy, causing the young Sartre had to move to La Rochelle. It would be in the Liceo of this locality where it would continue its studies until 1920, in which it would return to Paris and finish its education in its original institute.

Once completed his secondary studies, he would enter during 1924 in the École Normale Supérieure of Paris to realize his university studies. During these studies he would meet different people who in the future would become great authors, among whom was the one who would become his main sentimental partner (they would establish throughout his life an open controversial relationship for the time), Simone de Beauvoir. He received his doctorate in philosophy in 1929, being the first of his class (followed by De Beauvoir).

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Postdoctoral life and first publications of Sartre

After getting his Ph.D., he would start working in various institutes as a professor of philosophy, such as the Havre Lyceum. Subsequently, in 1933 he obtained a scholarship that allowed him to travel to Germany and be trained in the philosophy of different authors such as Edmund Husserl (exploring phenomenology) at the French Institute in Berlin.

After that, he would return to France, again teaching as a teacher in high schools like Pasteur. At this stage he would begin to elaborate his notion that existence precedes essence, since we have to be in order to be able to choose. This idea would be exposed in his first novel, published in 1938 and entitled Nausea. During 1939 he would begin to write other of his great works, among them Being and Nothingness.

War and Postwar

The arrival of World War II would make Sartre be called up , participating in the war and being captured by the Germans in 1940. In 1941 he managed to escape by posing as a civilian, and supported and participated in the French resistance.

In 1943 he published his most important work and known at the philosophical level, Being and Nothingness, in which he offered his version of existentialist philosophy. This work, influenced to a great extent by the existentialism of Heidegger (considered at that time a great authority in this philosophical current) and other authors like Husserl or Kierkegaard, would take him to reach great popularity.

With time, in 1945 decided to abandon teaching and dedicate himself fully to literary and philosophical creation as a writer . He founded together with his partner Simone de Beauvoir and other authors such as Raymond Aron the magazine Les temps modernes, of great influence at the time.

Your political activism

As we have mentioned previously, Sartre is also known for his political activism, maintaining an active participation in this field for a long time. This activism would be especially active after 1947. From socialist ideas, the author was critical of the Cold War and the performance of both the US block and the Soviet block.

Despite the existence of divergences, it has an approach to communist ideas, traveling on numerous occasions to Moscow and forming part of different associations. It would also support the Cuban revolution and the Chinese cultural revolution.

In 1964 the name of Sartre was proposed to award him the Nobel Prize for Literature . However, the author decided to reject the award considering that the link between author and reader did not require intermediaries.

He also participated actively in the May 1968 revolt and openly condemned the Vietnam War and the war crimes committed in it , collaborating in the formation of the Stockholm International Court.

Also, during this period the author continues to publish various works. Together with Maurice Clavel, he created the agency "Liberátion" in 1973, which later became a newspaper of which he would be the director.

Last years and death

However, over the years Sartre's health would begin to decline, losing sight and having to withdraw little by little from literary creation.

During the month of May of the year 1980 Jean-Paul Sartre was admitted to the Broussais hospital, in Paris, due to the suffering of a pulmonary edema and a hypertensive crisis . On April 15, 1980, this edema was complicated by a heart attack that ended in his death at nine o'clock at night, in the company of Simone De Beauvoir and his adopted daughter Arlette El Kaim.

The legacy of this author is broad, bringing the focus of philosophy to the problems between the relationship of the self and society. Likewise his ideas have influenced disciplines such as psychology , contributing to the thought and creation of the humanist current.

PHILOSOPHY - Sartre (April 2024).

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