Being and Nothingness


Title: Existence and Non-Existence

Author: Jean-Paul Sartre

Translator: Mahasti Bahraini

Publisher: Niloofar

Subject: Philosophy

Age category: Adult

Language: Farsi



Being and Nothingness is a subtitle of Sartre’s treatise on ontological phenomenology by William R. Schroeder examines in this work. Sartre is an existentialist phenomenology; He believes that lived experience can be directly described in a way that leads to important philosophical results. In this work, the author explores Sartre’s key claims and explains some of their most challenging ones.

Introducing Jean-Paul Sartre’s book: Hess
“Jean-Paul Sartre;Being and Nothingness  is one of the central texts of the philosophy of publishing daily life, which narrates the history of philosophy through the study and interpretation of its fundamental works. In this way, a work is selected from each great philosopher who, with his critical ideas or views, still keeps that philosopher alive or remarkable in some ways.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century. His philosophical treatises offer and defend a novel picture of human nature. He has also written successful novels and plays that give important philosophical insights a fictional / theatrical aspect.

Being and Nothingness is undoubtedly one of the most influential philosophical books of the twentieth century. This book, considered by many to be the main work of one of the most influential thinkers of the century, dramatically changed the course of Western philosophy.
The new and revolutionary style of this valuable work, also known as the “Bible of Existentialism”, challenged all previous notions about each person’s connection to the world around them and had an immediate and universal impact on culture and literature. .

This effect is reflected in Samuel Beckett’s theater of meaninglessness and the soulful poems of Beat Generation poets. Existence and Non-Existence is one of the few books whose impact on the thinking of future generations is very clear and obvious, and despite the fact that about seventy years have passed since its first publication, it still has a powerful and influential message. This precious work by Jean-Paul Sartre invites audiences to the challenge of confronting basic human issues such as freedom, choice, responsibility and action.

Excerpts from the book You Are and You Are Not

When we see something outside, we call it existence because inside and outside it are the same and both are one thing and have no inequality. But this thing has a difference in front of another because it has a limit, of course, because it is something else.

Philosophy has said that the conscience of a phenomenon is known; If we know the shape of the table, it is the conscience of the table. Therefore, for each of the phenomena of the world, a conscience is used, which is called the conscience of things.

When I speak, the quality of existence is with myself, but what is inside me does not have the quality of speaking in a specific sense, and it has a negative state, and he may speak to me in silence, that his conversation with my speech. it is different. So his existence is negative for another.

Being and Nothingness is the bible of existentialism. However, this book is surprisingly ambiguous, despite its pivotal role in the movement that swept Europe and North America in the years following World War II. [Only] a few cafeteria existentialists could read and understand much of it. In particular, it is very difficult to understand the introduction of the book, especially if you do not know about continental philosophy.

However, although the majority of those who bother and read the book from A to Z taste the feeling of despair, pursuing this work is worth the effort. Existence and non-existence is one of the few philosophical works of the twentieth century that really deals with the fundamental issues of the difficult human condition. The eloquent and clear parts of it may both inform and inspire. Sartre’s experiences as a novelist and playwright are reflected in his descriptions of specific situations – descriptions that form a significant part of the book.
The essence of existence and non-existence is summarized in this enigmatic line: “The nature of consciousness is: consciousness is at once what it is not and it is not what it is.” This phrase may seem false at first glance, but the fact is that the summary of Sartre’s view of what a human being is in this phrase. During this chapter, the full meaning of this whole line is revealed.
What is existentialism?
Existentialism is a philosophical movement that, in addition to philosophy and psychology, has originated in many arts. There are many differences and variations in the views and opinions of existentialist thinkers. However, Sartre in Existentialism and Humanism (text of his lecture in 1945) says that what all these thinkers have in common is the belief that in man “existence precedes nature.” Sartre’s point is that existentialists insist that there is no pre-existing blueprint for the existence of human nature to which we humans must conform: human beings choose what color to manifest themselves in.

In Sartre’s version of existentialism, the world is not a god in whose nature we are. We come into being first and then we transform ourselves as we wish. What defines and determines the [nature] of the sharpener is its function: if the sharpener cannot cut and does not have a folding blade, it is no longer a sharpener. The nature of the pen, what makes it a pen, and not something else, was in the mind of its maker before it was made. The difference between man and his pen is that man does not have a predetermined function and condition, and also a constructor whose nature is determined in his mind.
This is a view that has manifested itself in existentialism and humanism, but Sartre did not think of himself as an existentialist when he wrote Existence: His focus was primarily on clarifying the human condition. His approach was strongly influenced by a philosophical school known as phenomenology.
Phenomenological approach
A special feature of Sartre’s writing on existence and non-existence is its emphasis on real or imaginary situations, which Sartre describes in length and detail. This is not only a stylistic feature, but also a feature of Sartre’s phenomenological approach. Sartre is influenced by the philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). Husserl believes that the nature of things can be known by describing the contents of consciousness and by setting aside the question of whether or not what is manifested in consciousness really exists. According to Husserl, description is an important element of philosophy: we need to describe our experiences, not just reflect on them in the abstract.
Sartre accepts this last aspect of Husserl’s thinking, but denies the assumption that examination of the contents of our consciousness reveals the true and fundamental nature of what we think about. For Sartre, the meaning of the phenomenological method in practice is that he focuses on life as it is lived and felt, not on people as science or empirical psychology describe them. The result is a work of strangeness, far from abstract discussion, in which memorable and vivid situations and descriptions are scattered.

Being and Nothingness are based entirely on a fundamental distinction between different forms of existence. Sartre [reader] pays attention to the difference between conscious existence and unconscious existence. The first is called “self-existence”, and the second “self-existence”. Existence itself is a form of existence that human beings experience by their very nature, and most of the pages of Existence and Non-Existence are devoted to describing its main features. Unfortunately, Sartre does not answer the question of whether animals other than humans can be included in the category of living beings. In contrast, existence per se is the same as the existence of unconscious things, like a rock on the shore.
you is not
As the title suggests, nothingness plays a key role in Sartre’s book. He describes man’s consciousness as a void in the heart of his being. Another interpretation of this vacuum is non-existence. Consciousness is always awareness of something. Consciousness is never just itself.

Awareness is what allows us to plan our existence in the future and re-evaluate our past.
We experience tangible nothingness when we realize something is missing. You are scheduled to meet your friend Pierre in a cafe at four o’clock. A quarter of an hour later you arrive at the appointment and see that the old man is not there. You are aware of him as a kind of absence, a kind of absence, because you wanted to see him.

This is very different from the absence of, for example, Mohammad Ali in the cafe, because you have not arranged to meet him there: you can play a kind of brain teaser by listing all those who are not in the cafe, but in this case only the constant absence in the form of There is a real loss, because you are the only one waiting for him. This phenomenon, that is, that human consciousness is able to perceive the lack of things, is part of what Sartre calls the transcendence of consciousness.
This concept is closely related to Sartre’s conception of authority, because our ability to comprehend what has not happened or is about to become reality is what reveals to us a world full of possibilities. Or, to be more precise, in some cases, it reveals such a world to us; In other cases, there is a certain kind of self-deception that Sartre calls “superstition,” and we do not allow ourselves to grasp the true breadth of our agency.
According to Sartre, human beings have authority. Consciousness is empty; It’s not clear what to choose. Our choices in the past do not depend on our will, even if we think so. We are free to do whatever we want. This is not to say that the world will not allow us to put our desires and aspirations into action at all times. But this, like the reality of our time of birth and the fact that so-and-so are our parents, is an aspect of what Sartre calls our “reality,” the same aspects of our existence that are predetermined. We did not choose them manually]. However, if we can not change these things, then we are able and willing to change our view of them.
Sartre takes an extreme position on the issue of human free will and denies any theory that it shapes human beings to the fullest extent of their inheritance and upbringing. According to Sartre, the distinguishing feature of man is that he can choose what to do. However, Sartre points out that this is not the case: human consciousness is always preoccupied with what Sartre calls hypocrisy, which causes us to deny our will.
Roy and hypocrisy
Sartre’s study of righteousness and hypocrisy has rightly been hailed as one of the most enduring pieces of twentieth-century philosophy. Here his abilities as a philosopher, psychologist and novelist are successfully combined; In this study, Sartre’s phenomenological method comes to fruition, so that none of the many dry and abstract philosophical studies on self-deception come to fruition.
It is important to know that Sartre is not dealing with self-deception as a general philosophical subject: hypocrisy is a special kind of self-deception that only makes sense within the framework of a theory that takes authority for granted. Hypocrisy is a lie we tell ourselves to dodge. It is a state to which human consciousness is very much exposed.
Consider Sartre’s description of a woman who is on her first date with a man – a man who has sexual intentions towards her. The woman is aware of the nature of her interest, yet she denies it to herself and talks about the importance and meaning of things like “How attractive you are!” He lies to himself and presents them to himself as harmless praises that are not tainted with the slander of being sexual.
He manages to keep his self-deception strong throughout their conversation. … She leaves her hand in the man’s hand, but calmly and motionlessly, like an object, she neither consents nor resists, and at the same time speaks of her life with eloquent and intellectual words, emphasizing that he is a person, not a body. The woman suffers from hypocrisy and presidency because she deceives herself about the man’s intentions. She pretends to be a man who really cares about her thoughts, and she does so because she avoids accepting the possibility that she may have reciprocated the man’s desires.

Related books

1- Introducing the book Being and Nothingness on YouTube

2- Introducing the book Being and Nothingness in Aparat


There are no reviews yet.

Show only reviews in English (0)

Be the first to review “Being and Nothingness”

Your email address will not be published.