PHILOSOPHY – Sartre


Jean-Paul Sartre made thinking and philosophy
glamorous. He was born in Paris in 1905. His father,
a navy captain, died when he was a baby – and he grew up extremely close to his mother until
she remarried, much to his regret, when he was twelve. Sartre spent most of his life in Paris, where
he often went to cafes on the Left Bank. He had a strabismus, a wandering eye, and wore
distinctive, heavy glasses. He was very short (five feet three inches) and frequently described
himself as ugly. By the 60’s Sartre was a household name
in both Europe and the United States, and so was his chosen philosophy, Existentialism. Sartre is famous principally for his book
Being and Nothingness (1943), which enhanced his reputation not so much because people
could understand his ideas but because they couldn’t quite. Existentialism was built around a number of
key insights: One: Things are weirder than we think Sartre is acutely attentive to moments when
the world reveals itself as far stranger and more uncanny than we normally admit; moments
when the logic we ascribe to it day-to-day becomes unavailable, showing things to be
highly contingent and even absurd and frightening. Sartre’s first novel – Nausea, published
in 1938 – is full of evocations of such moments. At one point, the hero, Roquentin,
a 30-year-old writer living in a fictional French seaside town, is on a tram. He puts his hand on the seat, but then pulls
it back rapidly. Instead of being the most basic and obvious piece of design, scarcely
worth a moment’s notice, the seat promptly strikes him as deeply strange; the word ‘seat’ comes loose from its moorings,
the object it refers to shines forth in all its primordial oddity, as if he’s never
seen one before. Roquentin has to force himself to remember that this thing beside him is
something for people to sit on. For a terrifying moment, Roquentin has peered into what Sartre
calls the ‘absurdity of the world.’ Such a moment goes to the heart of Sartre’s
philosophy. To be Sartrean is to be aware of existence as it is when it has been stripped
of any of the prejudices and stabilising assumptions lent to us by our day-to-day routines. We can try out a Sartrean perspective on many
aspects of our own lives. Think of what you know as ‘the evening meal with your partner’. Under such a description, it all seems fairly
logical, but a Sartrean would strip away the surface normality to show the radical strangeness
lurking beneath. Dinner really means that:
when your part of the planet has spun away from the energy of a distant hydrogen and
helium explosion, you slide your knees under strips of a chopped-up
tree and put sections of dead animals and plants
in your mouth and chew, while next to you, another mammal whose genitals
you sometimes touch is doing the same. Two: We are free Such weird moments are certainly disorienting
and rather scary, but Sartre wants to draw our attention to them for one central reason:
because of their liberating dimensions. Life is a lot odder than we think, but it’s
also as a consequence far richer in possibilities. Things don’t have to be quite the way they
are. In the course of fully realising our freedom, we will come up against what Sartre calls the ‘angoisse’ or ‘anguish’ of existence.
Everything is (terrifyingly) possible because nothing has any pre-ordained, God-given sense
or purpose. Humans are just making it up as they go along,
and are free to cast aside the shackles at any moment. Three: We shouldn’t live in ‘Bad faith’ Sartre gave a term to the phenomenon of living
without taking freedom properly on board. He called it BAD FAITH. We are in bad faith whenever we tell ourselves
that things have to be a certain way and shut our eyes to other options. It is bad faith to insist that we have to
do a particular kind of work or live with a specific person or make our home in a given
place. The most famous description of ‘bad faith’
comes in Being and Nothingness, when Sartre notices a waiter who strikes him as overly
devoted to his role, as if he were first and foremost a waiter rather than a free human
being. His movement is quick and forward, a little
too precise, a little too rapid. He comes towards the patrons with a step that is a
little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly: his voice, his eyes express an
interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer…’ The man (he was probably modelled on someone
in Saint-Germain’s Café de Flore) has convinced himself that he is essentially, necessarily
a waiter rather than a free creature who could be a jazz pianist or a fisherman on a North
Sea trawler. Four: We’re free to dismantle capitalism. The one factor that most discourages people from experiencing themselves as free is money.
Most of us will shut down a range of possible options (moving abroad, trying out a new career,
leaving a partner) by saying, ‘that’s if I didn’t have to worry about money.’ This passivity in the face of money enraged
Sartre at a political level. He thought of capitalism as a giant machine designed to
create a sense of necessity which doesn’t in fact exist in reality: it makes us tell ourselves we have to work
a certain number of hours, buy a particular product or service, and so on. But in this, there is only the denial of freedom
– and a refusal to take as seriously as we should the possibility of living in other
ways. It was because of these views that Sartre
had a life long interest in Marxism. Marxism seemed in theory to allow people to explore
their freedom, by reducing the role played in their lives by material considerations. Sartre took part in many protests in the streets
of Paris in the 60s. Arrested yet again in 1968, President Charles de Gaulle had him
pardoned, saying, “you don’t arrest Voltaire.” Sartre also visited Fidel Castro and Che Guevara
and admired them both deeply. As a result of these connections and his radical politics,
the FBI kept a large file on Sartre trying to deduce what his suspicious philosophy might
really mean. Sartre is inspiring in his insistence that
things do not have to be the way they are. He is hugely alive to our unfulfilled potential,
as individuals and as a species. He urges us to accept the fluidity of existence and to create new institutions, habits, outlooks
and ideas. The admission that life doesn’t have some
preordained logic and is not inherently meaningful can be a source of immense relief when we
feel oppressed by the weight of tradition and the status quo.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. My creditors have assured me that I do need to work so many hours a week and that "YES" I do need to earn money…. Lots of money!

  2. It's worth noting that Sartre set up the newspaper Libération due in part because he wanted a left-wing newspaper free of political spin and cronyism. Unfortunately, since then the paper has been bought out and at times, it feels like the original intent of the paper has been washed out but it is still a highly respectable paper.

  3. If you can HaveYoutube whit contends like School of life,much more interesting knowledge,new,art why wood you watche Netflixs channal thats full of shit,propaganda,Warmovies,Destructions,Terrorist ,hate,lies. So stop making commercials of it to me,its just a waste of your good money .
    I will NOT get Netflixs ok!.Stop it.

  4. Personally, I think Sartre was simply crazy and decided that his craziness was a window to a new philosophy. Then other crazy people read his work and decided he was a crazy genius because he was capable of describing their very own lunacy (more or less, maybe they didn't wonder about the activity of waiters but rather why their dogs walked in a circle before lying down, but they were just as nuts) so he must be quite insightful. This is what comes from looking at the world cockeyed.

  5. I get a headace watching & trying to understand! Why? Because you don’t understand or just try to…….

  6. But what if Capitalism allows you to live a good life you otherwise were not capable of doing? If everyone were 'free' and not constrained to roles in society they feel the need to fill and provide, there would be a distinct lack of progress moving forward. Since everyone would obviously choose the easiest and stress free life to live rather than be motivated to work harder to raise their position in society. This kind of Philosophy is fun to think about, but at its core it is destructive and anti-human nature. And drugs are bad.

  7. 6:04 extreme pressure and optimism. Perhaps we can think for ourselves; each one of us humans, if the circumstances are right (=utopian ja ja). However, I also strongly believe that there are too many of us and that we and our individualistic "potential" are stuck on this big rock like a bacterial population in a petri plate. This claustrophobic state is pressing, oppressing, depressing.

  8. Have you ever wanted to be free? Well don't worry, if we become Marxist you can be free to be the poor, miserable, starving, nihilistic, depressed unit of the collective. How bout that? Bet it is very difficult to do that in capitalism where you are forced to choose what job to get, where you are forced to have the opportunity to have a stable and high income, where your labor is yours, where you are free to engage in any transaction that you want. Those things are all restrictive to the true existential beauty of suffering, and I demand that we be free to suffer. Well, yet another French philosopher that spews out garbage. Unfortunate. The initial and general existentialism that he talked about could be interesting, but after that the rest was garbage.

  9. You can find in subtitles "Español", "Espanol (Estados Unidos)", and "Español (Latinoamérica)". How is that?

  10. درود بر سارتر فرانسوی اروپائی که قدر معلم انقلابیون پارلمانی را دانست و دین شریعتی را ستود. اری دکتر ما در گلستان گل چیدیم و التقاطیها گل و تپاله چیدند و نداستند که اخر تاریخ انقلابیون عظو منهای همسرم شهبانو پریناز ازادی یکی را انتخاب میکیم وپاک و یا پلید میشویم. مرزبندی سازمان مرزبندی سود و ارزش هست.

  11. When I used to get stoned .. only when I was stoned .. I'd suddenly be aware that even simple statements could to received many ways. Hilarious but also a little disconcerting.

  12. 4:19 Fun Fact: Both Sartre and Cioran visited frequently this coffee shopp but they never spoke to one each other

  13. Seems to me that Sartre was a little mentally ill deformed retard that got a lot of other retards to follow his fucking insane ideas while Sartre made lots of money telling people they didn't need money.
    The world is full of really stupid sheep and he..the Marxist…Capitalized on their retardation.
    In our century we had these types of sheep…they drank the kool-aid in a little place called Jonestown. Dumb Fucks everyone of them!

  14. FOR ALL OF YOU ILLITERATE FUCKING INSECTS
    DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS SHIT SPEWING IMBECILE.
    NONE OF YOU WILL EVER UNDERSTAND EXISTENTIALISM
    AND NONE OF YOU INSECTS WILL EVER STUDY
    THE HISTORY OF THE MEANING OF LIFE IN YOUR ROTTING
    CIVILIZATION MECHANICAL ABOMINATION.

  15. Why am I here? Why are you here? Why is anybody here? I think it was Jean-Paul Sartre who once said….how do you spell Sartre?

  16. I don't think this is accurate. Money is simply a way of obtaining food, shelter and clothing with the idea of division of labor. We make jobs for people consciously. The waiter is unnecessary. We created it. Sartre is much more difficult than this.

  17. Money is a belief system same as religion, politics and putting a high value on your logowear…

  18. At 2:30 when you broke down a 'normal' situation into something that sounds strange and insane, I do this every day and I thought there was something wrong with me? I've only just learnt about sartre.

  19. Sartre was trying to say consciousness is a negation of our actual facticIty. A sort of lala land, and he would just laugh at me. At least that's what I get from his juxtaposition of being.

  20. We must make decisions. We must act. We must evaluate. The Ancient Greek concept of LOGOS lies at the heart of Western Civilisation and science, that nature and mind and discourse has a structure we can seek and find and count on and therefore act with confidence. LOGOS entered Christianity: "In the beginning was the LOGOS snd the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God." John 1:1

  21. All Jean-Paul Sartre did, was glorify rebellion. He firmly believed that misfitism was a healthy expression of individualism, and that unconventional self-expression was the highest form of freedom. A good philosophy for modern artists!

  22. Athanasius:
    he Son of God. 
    "But as to Gentile wisdom, and the sounding pretensions of the philosophers, I think none can need our argument, since the wonder is before the eyes of all that while the wise among the Greeks had written so much, and were unable to persuade even a few from their own neighborhood concerning immortality and a virtuous life, Christ alone, by ordinary language and by men not clever with the tongue, has throughout all the world, persuaded whole churches full of men to despise death, and to mind the things of immortality; to overlook what is temporal and to turn their eyes to what is eternal; to think nothing of earthly glory and to strive only for the heavenly."
    "Christianity is not engrossed by this transitory world, but measures all things by the thought of eternity." [J. Gresham Machen]

  23. Just found out about Sartre, literally think the same, we are all enslaved to capitalism. if anyone in 2019 seeing this wassup

  24. I just found out about this guy and existensialism today, and holy crap I never knew there was a philosophy that thought exactly how I do. What the fuck.

  25. Having had to write an assignment on Sartre's Being and Nothingness, I would describe it thus: mostly it was just rehashed ideas from Descartes with plenty of (unintentionally?) hilarious Mills and Boon'esque prose and farcical pseudo-intellectual word play, the philosophy of bloviation. Not to say there aren't any good observations, but having to wade through reams of repetitive trite drivel does make his writing rather frustrating to deal with. I will summarize with a quote from George Orwell "Sartre is a bag of wind, and I am going to give him a good boot."

  26. Sartre was a moron. Another fatherless… lost child. The philosophy is seductive just as that fruit in Eden.

  27. I love how Sartre equated Marxism with greater freedom. Let’s use two of the video’s examples:
    1. Live in a different country: Not possible in most socialist countries. If you leave the state expropriates you.
    2. Switch your career.
    Hardly possible in many pure socialist systems. The state dictates your job, as the needs of the state outweigh your own.
    Sartre like many just lived in a time where the failures and problems of communism and socialism weren’t as clear as they are now. His impact on political history probably weren’t for the best either, the Khmere Rouge loved him and he supported the random killing of European civilians in North Africa.

  28. Which aspect of existentialism prompted him to screw de Bouvier's unassuming female students? I guess his will to discard young girls didn't REALLY exist after he left the room.

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