The Phenomenology of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905– )

  • Herbert Spiegelberg
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 6)


The attempt to present and discuss Sartre’s phenomenology without including the whole of his philosophical thought has to face more than the usual amount of difficulties presented by such a selective enterprise. They begin with the fact that a man of Sartre’s versatility and vigor defies all conventional classifications. Thus, in studying Sartre the philosopher and phenomenologist, one must consider not only Sartre the novelist, the critic, the playwright, and the editor, but also the political figure. For since the war Sartre has become so involved in political action and in the theatre that one might well wonder whether he has not turned away from philosophy for good, were it not for the persistent announcements of a major philosophical work to appear in the near future. One might conceive of dividing up the task by concentrating on either the philosopher, the dramatist, or the novelist Sartre, as some of the more successful studies published thus far have approached him.1 But Sartre’s work is more than the sum of the output of his separate talents. There is a common source for all his multifarious activities. At their center is a unique philosophic concern. Some attempt to determine this core is therefore indispensable for any attempt to understand Sartre.


Human Existence Phenomenological Method Reflective Consciousness Fundamental Choice Phenomenological Ontology 
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Selective Bibliography

Major Works

  1. L’Imagination (1936)Google Scholar
  2. La Transcendance de l’égo,“ Recherches philosophiques VI (1936), 85–123Google Scholar
  3. Translation: English (1957) by Forest Williams and Robert Kirk-patrick — carefully done, with introduction and helpful notes. [I] La Nausée (1938)Google Scholar
  4. Translation: English (1949) by Lloyd Alexander — good.Google Scholar
  5. Esquisse d’une théorie des émotions (1939)Google Scholar
  6. Translation: English (1948) under the title The Emotions: Outline of Theory,by B. Frechtman — fair.Google Scholar
  7. L’Imaginaire: Psychologie phénoménologique de l’imagination (1940) Translation: English (1948) under the title Psychology of Imagination,anonymous — fair, but not without misleading mistakes.Google Scholar
  8. Les Mouches. A play (1943)Google Scholar
  9. Translation: English (1947) by Stuart Gilbert — quite free. Huis clos. A play (1943)Google Scholar
  10. Translation: English (1947) under the title No Exit,by Stuart Gilbert — quite free.Google Scholar
  11. L’Être et le néant. Essai d’ontologie phénoménologique (1943) (EN) Translation: English (1956) by Hazel E. Barnes — on the whole good, but not free from serious errors. Adds an introduction, a helpful index of names, and a key to special terminology of limited value, but no index of subjects.Google Scholar
  12. L’Existentialisme est un humanisme (1946)Google Scholar
  13. Translation: English (1947) under the title Existentialism by B. Frechtman — adequate, but not free from glaring mistakes. Situations. 3 vols. (1947, ‘48, ‘49)Google Scholar
  14. Translations: English (Part of volumes I and III in Literary and Philosophical Essays (1955) by Anette Michelson; Part of vol. II in What is literature? (1949) by B. Frechtman — good.Google Scholar
  15. Réflexions sur la question juive (1946)Google Scholar
  16. Translation: (1948) under the title “Anti-Semite and Jew,” by George J. Becker.Google Scholar
  17. Visages,précédé de Portraits officiels (1948)Google Scholar
  18. Le Diable et le bon Dieu. A Play. (1951)Google Scholar
  19. Translation: English (1952) under the title “Lucifer and the Lord,” by Kitty Black — quite free.Google Scholar
  20. Saint Genet, comédien et martyre. (1952) [ 2 ] Google Scholar
  21. Questions de méthode,“ Les Temps Modernes XIII (1957), 338–417. 658–97 [3]Google Scholar


  1. Beigbeder, Marc, L’Homme Sartre (1947) Not always reliable.Google Scholar
  2. Campbell, Robert, Jean-Paul Sartre ou une littérature philosophique (1945) Helpful study of the connections between Sartre’s philosophical and literary works.Google Scholar
  3. Eanson, Francis, Sartre par lui-même. Images et textes presentées par J.F. (1955) Emphasizes Sartre’s plays; contains much new material.Google Scholar
  4. Jeanson, Francis, Le problème moral et la pensée de Sartre (1947) Preface by Sartre.Google Scholar
  5. Varet, Gilbert, L’Ontologie de Sartre (1948) Penetrating analysis; chiefly an attempt to show Sartre’s ontology as a necessary consequence of Husserl’s phenomenological method, based on insufficient acquaintance with the German sources.Google Scholar

Studies in English

  1. Dempsey, J. R. Peter, The Psychology of Sartre (1950) The expository part is well organized, although the grasp of the German background of Sartre’s thought is inadequate. Criticism from the Thomist position.Google Scholar
  2. Desan, Wilfred, The Tragic Finale (1954) Most complete study in English, based largely on Varet and equally inadequate on the German background. Ph. D. Thesis, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  3. Murdoch, Iris, Sartre, Romantic Rationalist (1953) Perceptive and sympathetic study, based largely on Sartre’s novels.Google Scholar
  4. Natanson, Maurice, A Critique of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Ontology (1951) Tries in addition to a condensed presentation to derive the defects of Sartre’s ontology from his failure to apply Husserl’s phenomenological reduction. Ph. D. Thesis, University of Nebraska.Google Scholar
  5. Stern, Alfred, Sartre. His Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (1953) Unsympathetic and in some places quite superficial.Google Scholar

Articles in English

  1. Ayer, A. J., “Novelist-Philosophers: J. P. Sartre,” Horizon XII (1945), 12–26, 101–10Google Scholar
  2. Brown, Jr., Stuart M., “The Atheistic Existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre,” Philosophical Review LVII (1948), 158–66Google Scholar
  3. Gurwitsch, Aron, “A Non-Egological Conception of Consciousness,” [1] PPR I (1941),325–38Google Scholar
  4. Marcuse, Herbert, “Existentialism: Remarks on J. P. Sartre’s L’Être et le néant, ” PPR VIII (1948), 309–36Google Scholar
  5. Mcgill, V. J., “Sartre’s Doctrine of Freedom,” Revue internationale de [2] philosophie IX (1949), 329–59Google Scholar
  6. Natanson, Maurice, “Jean-Paul Sartre’s Philosophy of Freedom,” Social Research XIX (1952) 362–80Google Scholar
  7. Olson, Robert G., “The Three Theories of Motivation in the Philosophy of J. P. Sartre,” Ethics LXVI, 176–87Google Scholar
  8. Olson, Robert G., “Authenticity, Metaphysics, and Moral Responsibility,” Philosophy [3] XXXIV (1959), 99–110Google Scholar
  9. Rau, Catherine, “The Ethical Theory of J. P. Sartre,” Journal of Philosophy XLVI (1949) 536–45Google Scholar
  10. Schuetz, Alfred, “Sartre’s Theory of the Alter Ego,” PPR IX (1948), 181–99Google Scholar
  11. Spiegelberg, Herbert, “French Existentialism: Its Social Philosophies, Kenyon Review XVI (1954), 446–62Google Scholar
  12. Stern, Guenther Anders, “Emotion and Reality (in Connection with Sartre’s The Emotions),” PPR X (1951), 553–62 )Google Scholar

Most complete Bibliography of the Sartre Literature up to 1950

  1. Douglas, Kenneth, A Critical Bibliography of Existentialism (The Paris School) Yale French Studies. Special Monograph, No. 1 (1950), items 301–442Google Scholar
  2. For Sartre’s more important writings since 1950, see Jeanson, Francis, Sartre par lui-même,pp. 190–91Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert Spiegelberg

There are no affiliations available

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