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Sartre und die Macht der Dinge

Überlegungen zum Wechselverhältnis zwischen Handlung und Welt

Bonnemann, Jens

Phänomenologische Forschungen, Bd. 2009 (2009), Iss. 0: S. 5–36

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Bonnemann, Jens


Academia widely agrees in that Sartre in his early philosophy of freedom in Being and Nothingness (1943) ignores the restrictions people are subjected to by society. Here, Sartre proposes a concept of absolute freedom that is not affected by reality, even regarding extreme situations like incarceration. This paper starts with a review of critique raised by three renowned thinkers, philosophers as well as sociologists: Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno and Pierre Bourdieu. With respect to this I will show in a second step that the criticism of Sartre’s position as expressed in his second main philosophical work, Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960), misses the mark. Whereas in the context of existentialism the individual project is liberated from social constraints, Sartre states in his later works that the project realises the individuals’s social fate in different ways. Today his early position – man defines his self and is nothing else than what he makes of himself – sounds like a strategy of motivation designed by Neoliberalism aimed at maximising the so-called human capital. However, the author of Critique of Dialectical Reason presents us with stimulating ideas how both the uniqueness of human beings as well as the social conditioning of


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Jens Bonnemann: Sartre und die Macht der Dinge. Überlegungen zum Wechselverhältnis zwischen Handlung und Welt 1