Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21 - Jean-Paul Sartre

Philosopher, playwright and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris on June 21, 1905. As a child he was educated by tutors and later said that "It was in books that I encountered the universe." At the University of Paris he met his lifelong companion, novelist Simone de Beauvoir, served in the military and taught at a public secondary school in Le Havre, where he wrote his first novel, Nausea (1938), a key work of existentialism. In diary entries, Roquentin, a dejected researcher, searches for meaning but realizes that the indifference of the physical world to human aspirations is the context in which people are free to make their own meaning. Sartre's position is that human beings are "condemned to be free," and the meaning of their lives is not established before their existence (i.e., "existence precedes essence") because there is no Creator. When Sartre was arrested for civil disobedience during the Paris strikes of 1968, President Charles de Gaulle pardoned him and said, "you don't arrest Voltaire."

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