Alienation in the later philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre

Man and World 19 (3):293-309 (1986)
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This thesis is a study of alienation in Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason. The thesis is organized around three central questions: What does Sartre conceive alienation to be? What for Sartre are the causes and/or conditions of alienation? What are the prospects for overcoming alienation? ;In the course of this inquiry I arrived at a general definition of alienation, viz., that it is the process whereby the human subject is constrained to become 'other' than what he authentically is in his being. The condition of otherness is characteristic of all alienation. But I discovered two notions of alienation in Sartre, one of which is a fundamental ontological condition rooted in the structure of human existence conceived as praxis, and the other more historically specific and akin to Marxian theories of alienation. The former is an ineliminable element of the "human condition" as well as the necessary, though not sufficient condition of the latter alienation, which is historically surpassable. I argue that the key to understanding Sartre's theory of alienation is to be found in his philosophical anthropology, a theory of man as perpetually self-transcending and self-objectifying activity whose activity leads to alienation



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Robert Birt
Bowie State University

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