Existentialism could be defined as a philosophical theory that focuses on the individual person being a free and responsible person who determines his or her own development through acts of will. Existentialism is a thesis that has been discussed by some of the greatest philosophical minds ever to live. Minds such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche all had their own view on what existentialism was and major impact on the development of this thesis. Each of these philosophies played a huge influence on a great mind that would come later on in history. That was the mind of Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre, who is considered one of the great philosophical minds, based many of his ideas around the idea of existentialism and phenomenology. Throughout this paper we will take an extensive look into the life and mind of Jean-Paul Sartre.
On the 21st of June 1905, Anne-Marie Schweitzer and Jean-Baptiste Sartre gave birth to their one and only child, Jean Paul Sartre. Anne-Marie was forced to raise Jean-Paul all by herself after Sartre’s father, John-Baptiste, died. Jean Paul Sartre became interested in philosophy after reading the essay “Time and Free Will” by Henri Bergson. In 1929, Sartre met Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir, who later on became a celebrated philosopher, stayed friends with Sartre throughout his entire life and would be the closest thing to a wife Sartre would ever have. In 1939, Sartre was drafted into the French army as a meteorologist. He was captured by German troops in 1940 and spent nine months as a prisoner of war. After World War II, Sartre emerged as a politically engaged activist. He was an outspoken opponent of French rule in Algeria. He also embraced Marxism; a theory based on communism, and visited Cuba, meeting Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. In October of 1964 Jean Paul Sartre won his first Nobel Prize for literature, which he decline to accept. Sartre’s physical condition began to deteriorate in the 1970s, and became almost completely blind in 1973. Then, on the 15th of April 1980, Jean Paul Sartre passed away from pulmonary edema. Sartre was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery where he shares a grave with his life long partner Simone de Beauvoir. ("Jean-Paul Sartre")
As a boy, Sartre received much of his early education from tutors. In 1924, Jean-Paul Sartre started studying at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. (Media) He graduated in 1929 with a doctorate in Philosophy. (Channel) With the help of a stipend from the Institut Francais, Jean-Paul Sartre was able to study the philosophies of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger in Berlin, Germany. Husserl and Heidegger were both philosophers whose beliefs were centered on existentialism and phenomenology. Both are subjects Sartre expressed in many of his writing and plays. In 1931, Sartre became a Professor of Philosophy at Le Havre. He would later teach at Laon until he eventually became a professor at the Lycée Pasteur in Paris from 1937 to 1939. (Media)