ISSN 2227-7242 (Print), ISSN 2304-9685 (Online)

Антропологічні виміри філософських досліджень, 2019, Вип. 16

Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, 2019, NO 16




UDC 141.319.8 "19/20" Sartre


1*H. S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of NAS of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine), e-mail,
ORCID 0000-0003-4683-0838
2*Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Kyiv, Ukraine), e-mail,




Purpose. The article is aimed to show the specificity and heuristic value of the humanism of the French existentialist J.-P. Sartre, represented both in his early works, where the isolationist position prevailed, and considering his evolution to various types of collective responsibility and attempts to build a universal morality on the basis of ontological integral humanity. Theoretical basis. Taking into account the relevance of the topic of person’s searching for authentic existence in the modern world, the author analyzes the concept of Sartre’s humanism, which remains poorly researched in the Ukrainian philosophical space, since most of his works of the later period remained untranslated and unknown to the Ukrainian community. That is, there is a need to consider the phenomenon of a human and his/her basic characteristics, which ultimately determine what type of humanism deserves further support and development. The author places the existentialist dimension of a human being, which is one of the most important determinants of human behavior and the ways of human self-determination of his/her existence, in the context of the general development of the humanistic tradition of modern anthropology. Originality. The article substantiates the thesis that Sartre’s position concerning humanism is conditioned by the specificity of his understanding of the authentic human existence as a constant self-transcendence, the person’s realization of the project that makes a person the creator of the values. Therefore, Sartre’s humanism can only be understood in the context of this self-construction and responsibility of a person for his/her choice. The author proved that although this concept was subsequently changed, the basic intention of the Sartre’s approach remains the same. Thus, having combined the existentialism and Marxist understanding of the historical process, Sartre nevertheless emphasizes that the primal intentionality of human existence (project or transcendence) is decisive in all subsequent actions and doings, despite the fact that real practice may demonstrate deviations and even regression concerning humanity. Having defined the universality of the human situation in the world as the presence of certain a priori restrictions, the philosopher comes to the recognition of intersubjectivity, which allows him to reach a new type of morality, which defines "integral humanity" or "full-fledged human" as its goal. Conclusions. The interpretation of humanism by early Sartre relied on the idea of a person as such, who is in constant transcendence (going beyond), constantly constructing him/herself; he/she is oriented towards the future (but it is a pure future, unplanned and undefined). In this case, a person is the creator of the values and their legislator in this world. At the same time, the late Sartre emphasized that since a person exists in a society where he/she is usually in a state of alienation, the question under which conditions and by what means is it possible to reproduce and realize a truly humanistic dimension is inevitable. Sartre’s position is based on the fact that there is a primal need for self-realization, to be human.

Keywords: Sartre; humanism; integral humanity; existence; project; alienation; practice; transcending; anthropology


Starting from the Renaissance era, the idea of humanism and anthropocentrism has begun to play a decisive role in the context of the worldview transformations of all Western society. Y. N. Harari described this shift in world-view attitudes as a "humanistic revolution" that displaced the focus of attention from a previous cosmological or divine plan to a man as the creator of the meaning of existence and socio-cultural order. As the researcher notes,

While a traditionally large space plan has made sense of human life, humanism reverses these roles and expects that human experience will bring sense to space. According to humanism, people must derive not only the sense of their own lives but also the sense of the entire universe from their experience. This is the primary requirement of humanism for us: to make sense for a world that has no sense. (Harari, 2018, p. 274)

However, over a long period of its development, the idea of humanism acquired different connotations and meanings. Y. Harari points out that in the process of its development, humanism has been divided into three branches: "liberal humanism", social humanism and evolutionary humanism. According to the author, liberal humanism proceeds from the thesis that the more freedom an individual has, the richer and more meaningful the world becomes. In contrast, social humanism emphasizes that it is first and foremost to regard the people who are in a particular social state, who are being formed by this social environment and who must fight for their liberation, not the individual. Evolutionary humanism, which emerges from the Darwinian theory of evolution, substantiates its position with the logic of human development towards the superhuman.

Each of these concepts has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, there are continued attempts to find some kind of integral conception that would be free from the disadvantages of the above-mentioned conceptions. One of such attempts is represented in the existentialism of J.-P. Sartre, though, it should be noted that in his work, he has repeatedly changed his position concerning authentic humanism, trying to reconcile the social existence of a man with the existential dimension of human existence. In our view, this has given rise to the debates over the Sartre concept of humanism, as evidenced by works of such authors as T. Anderson (1993, 2014, 2015), Elizabeth Butterfield (2012), Yoav Di-Capua (2018), Daniel Chernilo (2017). Elizabeth Butterfield in her work "Sartre and Posthumanist Humanism" points out that Sartre in the "Critique of Dialectical Reason" departs from the dichotomy "individual" – "social" and uses the notion of "social individual". Daniel Chernilo in "Debating Humanity" dedicated a separate section to the Sartre’s humanism, although, unfortunately, he limited himself to considering the concept presented in Sartre’s earlier publication "Existentialism is a Humanism". T. Anderson believes that there have been several variants of Sartre’s ethics radically different from one another.

Discussion of Sartre’s humanistic position is continued in the journal publications of recent years. In particular, the articles by M. Russo (2019) and K. Engels (2018) explore the issues raised in the "Notebooks for an Ethics" and in the "Critique of Dialectical Reason". All of this leads to a more thorough study of the Sartre’s legacy, which has a rather powerful heuristic potential and can help in adequate understanding of the humanism concept.


The purpose of the article is to conceptually highlight the major turning points of Sartre’s ethical teaching in order to show how his position on humanism has changed in the process of his work. To present the evolution of his views and the factors that influenced him to formulate a peculiar concept of humanism, which leaves behind the need for a person to choose his/her future. To show how the philosopher solved the problem of social exclusion of human and his/her basic need for self-fulfillment.

Statement of basic materials

Based on the above classification of Y. Harari, Sartre’s position on humanism, which he outlined in his early writings of "Being and Nothingness" (1943) and "Existentialism is a Humanism" (1946), can be attributed to the so-called liberal humanism, since, in his opinion, freedom is the most essential characteristic of human existence, which lies in the freedom of choice. The choice is existential, fateful, and not rationally justified. In the process of choice, one must listen to one’s deep self. Only in the bosom of true existence, a person can "choose the good".

Sartre justified this position based on the "phenomenological ontology" detailed in "Being and Nothingness". In the last section of this work, "Ethical Implications", he raised the question of the possibility of constructing morality on the basis of the ontology that was revealed by him on more than 800 pages of the book text. Of course, as Sartre (2001) noted, "ontology itself cannot formulate ethical precepts. … It does, however, allow us to catch a glimpse of what sort of ethics will assume its responsibilities when confronted with a human reality in situation" (p. 843).

Therefore, the new ethics aimed to reveal the ideal meaning of all possible positions of human, since the latter is the being through which values come into the world. And the final phrase of this work, "We shall devote to them a future work" (Sartre, 2001, p. 846), sounds like a promise to develop a new ethic where moral obligations go beyond altruism and egoism that overcomes the limitations of utilitarian and socially conditioned ethics. However, the expected work did not appear.

However, some outlines of this new ethic can be found in the small work "Existentialism is a Humanism" (1946), which just referred to new humanism and, accordingly, new morality foundations. In this work, Sartre noted that the word "humanism" has two very distinct meanings. One can understand by humanism a theory that views a person as the goal and the highest value. As an example of such humanism, Sartre mentions Jean Cocteau’s book "Round the World Again in 80 Days", in which the main character, as he flies by plane over the mountains, proclaims: "Human is amazing". That is, any person can consider him/herself as responsible and respected for the specific actions of some other people. According to Sartre (1996), such humanism is absurd, since our actions can only be evaluated by beings of another species (p. 75).

However, there is another reason why such humanism is unacceptable. For, as Sartre noted,

Existentialist never recognizes a person as a goal because he/she is always in the process of making him/herself. And we should not think that there is humanity we could make a cult of, like Auguste Comte. The cult of mankind leads to Comte’s self-contained humanism, and – it should be added – to fascism. (Sartre, 1996, p. 75)

(Incidentally, the ideas of evolutionary humanism mentioned by Y. Harari were quite widespread among the Nazis because it envisaged the development of humanity toward the superhuman).

Further, Sartre pointed to the existence of another kind of humanism, which is based on the existentialist conception of the human. According to this conception, human is a constant going beyond the limits, continuous projection, he/she can exist precisely through the pursuit of transcendental goals.

This connection of transcending, as a constituting person (not in the sense where God is transcendent, but in the sense of going beyond the limits), and subjectivity (in the sense where the person is not self-contained but is always present in the human universe) is what we call existentialist humanism. Existentialism is a humanism because we remind man that there is no legislator but himself; that he himself must decide for himself; also because we show that it is by seeking an aim of liberation that man can realise himself as truly human. (Sartre, 1996, p. 76)

Just as in the work "Being and Nothingness", it was emphasized that freedom emerges "as the basis of all values". According to Sartre, there are no values a priori. General morality cannot be adapted to a case-by-case basis. Therefore, a person must constantly create moral values, just as an artist creates a work of art. "What is common between art and morality is that in both cases we have creativity and ingenuity. We cannot decide a priori what to do" (Sartre, 1996, p. 66). Thus, here essential features of the new morality, which is built on the principle of vital self-construction, in the process of which a person builds him/herself, are gradually emerging. That is, new morality emerges as a certain way of life or as an art of being authentic.

In order to understand the basic specific features of Sartre’s humanism, one must find out in what anthropological dimension a person is understood here. As Heidegger (1988) noted in the "Letter on Humanism", any previous humanism foresaw and relied on the generalized "essence" of a person who appears to be self-evident (p. 321). In contrast, Sartre assumes that such an essence or "nature" of human does not exist. Therefore, his main intention was to try to find the deep intentionality of human being (the "fundamental project"). After all, a sign of true human being is the constant going of human beyond certain limits (the so-called transcendence). This is where the existentialist calls for listening to the "inner voice" rather than the ratio, trying to act spontaneously, according to inner intention, comes from. The choice made in this way acquires the signs of positive value. "Choosing one or the other means at the same time affirming the value of what we choose because we can never choose evil" (Sartre, 1996, p. 32). Moreover, our individual choice acquires a universal status. It is a choice made at the call of existence, and therefore it cannot contradict the authentic choice made by other people.

So, humanism here is that in the process of this struggle a person creates for him/herself certain grounds for humanity. And it is this advancement that is the humanism that Sartre defends. That is, humanism is not a state, not an ideal, but a gradual advancement of people to a more authentic existence.

As we can see, Sartre renounces a priori defined humanism. Moreover, in the Nausea novel he ridiculed all sorts of humanists who a priori define some humanistic ideal that should be realized in life. He referred to the so-called "left-wing" humanist, who considers the preservation of the values of human civilization as his primary goal, who concerned about the fate of the underprivileged, who loves cats, dogs, and all higher mammals. Next on this list is a writer-communist who punishes people because he loves them, he is a herald of harsh reality, but he loves his brothers. The novel also mentions a Catholic humanist who convinces that even the life of the neediest dock worker is wonderful. Further, Sartre recalls the dreams of other humanists:

A humanist who loves people as they are, and who loves them as they should be; the one that saves a person with his/her consent, and the one that does this against his/her will; the one that creates new myths and the one that dispenses with the old ones; the one who loves death in human, and the one who loves life in him/her, a cheerful humanist who always has a joke, and a gloomy humanist who can be met more often at committal services. (Sartre, 1993, p. 122)

What is common to all these pseudo-humanists is that they come from some a priori conceptions of a particular human virtue, whereas Sartre argued that there are no a priori values. He assumed that there was no sustainable human nature. Human reality is a constant project implementation, a series of actions. However, each person has his/her own project, his/her own way of its realization, so the question arises about its universal importance. Sartre explained his position as follows: although it is not possible to find in each person a universal entity that would be human nature, yet there is a human universality of the situation. The situation here refers to the "set of a priori constraints" that outline the fundamental situation of human in the universe. That is, on the one hand, there are socio-historical conditions that are changing: a person may be born a slave or a senior, live in a city or a village, have one or another profession. But on the other hand, there is something in every person’s life that is not changed, which appears as a certain universality of the human situation. It is a need for human to be in this world, to work in it, to be in it among others and to be mortal. Accordingly, every human project is an attempt to overcome these constraints, that is, either to reject them, to deny them, or to adapt to them. Although the projects may be different but as Sartre emphasized, "none will be completely alien to me". That is, each of them has a share of common humanity, or, in other words, "there is a universality of any project in the sense that any project is understandable to any person" (Sartre, 1996, p. 61). On this basis, Sartre (1996) concluded, "any project, however individual it may be, has universal value" (p. 61). It follows that "there is a universality of man; but it is not a given, it is constantly being constructed. I construct the universal, choosing myself; I construct it, understanding the project of any other person of any age …" (Sartre, 1996, p. 61).

That is to say, Sartre opposes the reification of human, as well as against his/her substantiation since existence does not boil down to a set of stable, material-like characteristics. Rather, it is a set of manifestations of some existentials, among which the fundamental is existential freedom. Sartre constantly emphasizes that one cannot be reduced to an object. Human is nothing else but his/her project, he/she exists only to the extent that he/she is realized.

Therefore, on the basis of the introduction to the work "Existentialism is a Humanism", we can understand what are the previous postulates of the new ethics that Sartre promised to develop in future work. However, over the next ten years, a systematic statement of the principles of the new morality declared by Sartre never appeared. Only in 1983, after the death of the philosopher, thanks to his foster daughter Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre, preparatory materials for this first ethic were published. They were written in 1947-1948 and were published under the title "Notebook for an Ethics", over 600 pages of text.

Analyzing Sartre’s position presented in the "Notebook for an Ethics", it should be noted that in this work he tried to use the basic concepts of the previous ontology, although we also have some development or refinement of the previous theses. In particular, "Notebook for an Ethics" contains several statements that define Sartre’s position concerning the fundamental foundations of his ethics. First of all, morality is a constant transformation of human. It is constant creativity, reminiscent of creativity in the field of art. Since there are no values set a priori, it is the person who creates all the values. The true choice is based on pre-reflective cogito. Thus, in his view, "the only basis of moral life must be spontaneity that is, immediacy, and non-reflexivity" (Sartre, 1983, p. 12). Sartre dissociates himself from the previous morality, which was based on the conception of the sustainable nature of human and the fixed prescriptions of morality. New morality is a constant search for answers to the questions. This is despite the fact that there are no ready answers: "The answers are not data. There are no answers at all: they must not be found but invented and desired" (Sartre, 1983, p. 464). The same is true of human: "Thus, it is necessary to desire a human. Not to open him/her, but to invent him/her" (Sartre, 1983, p. 23).

As in the work of "Being and Nothingness", Sartre here contrasts spontaneity and calculation, fluidity and constancy, a certain order and creativity. Morality, which relies on the order, certainty, is not acceptable to him. "There is no morality of order", he declared, "because the order is rather an alienation of morality … Feast, revelation, permanent revolution, generosity, creativity, here are the moments of human. Everyday life, Order, Repetition, Alienation – this is a moment Other than a human" (Sartre, 1983, p. 430). Just as in his previous work, he calls for the release of the "spirit of seriousness" because "the spirit of seriousness is a voluntary alienation, that is, the submission of some abstraction that justifies: the idea that human is unessential and abstraction is essential" (Sartre, 1983, p. 66). The same is true for obligation: wherever an obligation is concerned, we have some kind of oppression. Even the goal as soon as it is imposed by the community, it becomes something essential and the personality is unessential. True relationships emerge only when we are free, when we are done with the "spirit of seriousness" and perceive that personality is our own goal in the form of "ecstasy and gift".

This logic can be traced when Sartre speaks of an absolute purpose, of the "city of goals" ("la cité des fins") in the Kantian sense, that is, a place where people are always a goal for each other, not a means. However, in this case, he also warns against imagining the "city of goals" as a realized ideal. Since human is a constant going beyond the limits, that is, creativity, freedom, then "nothing is further from the city of goals than the realized city of goals" (Sartre, 1983, p. 177). In his opinion, the realized city of goals leads to the establishment of totalitarianism. Humanity is always open to creative development, and therefore can never set goals in the form of a certain ideal state. Moreover, the one who seeks to make an end in itself of one’s own freedom or the freedom of others, with necessity, substantiates it, and consequently, it loses the status of true freedom. The latter should be understood only as transcendence, that is, a constant movement towards something else.

Sartre pointed to a peculiar dilemma of Morality: if the goal is already given, then it becomes a fact and a being, not a value; if the goal is not given, then it becomes causeless, costless, to some extent caprice. So, being free, a person questions the purpose as something given and concrete. After all, this is one of the characteristics of freedom: to question the existing world.

Hence the problem: how to reconcile our desire for universal (integral) humanity with the specific requirements of everyday reality. That is, Sartre felt the need to relate morality to the position of human in the world where certain determinations and dependencies act. Therefore, morality must be specific that is a synthesis of the universal and historically predetermined. According to Sartre, although the human transformation is an individual and subjective action, it also depends on historical circumstances in which other people are present. It implies the change of all: "morality is possible only if all are moral" (Sartre, 1983, p. 16).

That is, in the "Notebooks" there is a new specification on the understanding of human freedom. If in the "Being and Nothingness", freedom concerned a person in general (after all, it was an abstract and isolated from society person), then the topic of childhood, human development, his/her socialization, etc. is already presented in the "Notebooks". Since the child is dependent on parents, adults, and others, this is a kind of problem. First of all, a child is dependent on parents who bring him/her up so that he/she is prepared for life in the adult world. Parents should take care to ensure that their children learn certain guidelines. Both violence and authority or inherited customs are used for this purpose. After all, this gives Sartre (1983) reason to say, "The child is the object first" (p. 22). He points to the different position of a person in the process of his/her becoming: when he/she is a child, he/she is an object and is justified, being an adult, he/she is a subject and does not have an excuse of his/her choice. However, the transition of a person to his/her owns subjectivity is not so simple: he/she can get used to his/her objectivity; moreover, he/she has already grown accustomed to them. And this is what prevents a person from realizing his/her freedom and making true free choice.

Various assumptions have been made to explain why the promised book has not appeared in time. However, with the advent of "The Problem of Method" in 1956, which then became part of the first volume of "Critique of the Dialectical Reason" (1960), it became clear that Sartre ceased work on the ethics of individual freedom and began to work on another variant of it. The philosopher himself has repeatedly stated in his interviews that he moved from an abstract, idealistic first ethic to a realistic, materialistic second one.

Indeed, in the work "The Problem of Method", we have another definition of the human as the object of existentialism’s study. Now it is

An individual in the social field, within his/her own class, among collective objects and other individuals, it is an alienated, materialized, mystified individual who is made by division of labor and exploitation but who struggles with alienation using wrong tools and, despite everything, patiently moves forward. (Sartre, 1960, p. 85)

That is, it is not human in general, but human – specific, immersed in a social context, dependent on certain determinations. Although he/she is still endowed with ontological freedom or freedom to choose, yet not everything in this world depends on him/her, as he/she is influenced by social circumstances, he/she lacks genuine tools for liberation, he/she is not able to fully realize his/her position.

In his previous writings, Sartre placed all the responsibility for the right choice on single (even more, an isolated) individual, alleging as his reason that everyone at the pre-reflective level has the ability to realize his/her original ontological freedom and, therefore, bears full responsibility for the made or unmade choice (society can only interfere with this, to form false installations in a person). That is, it depends on the person whether he or she makes the right choice, or whether he or she blindly obeys socially defined requirements and guidelines and is held in captivity by a false existence.

In contrast to this guideline of the first ethics, in the mid-50s Sartre began to study in more detail the dependence of human on social, his/her existence in different collective series, his/her practical-inert existence. He suggests that some people, primarily oppressed and mystified, may not know about their freedom, and it is not so easy for them to realize their ability to make free choices. During this period, he turns to the philosophy of Marxism, believing that "Marxism is today the only possible anthropology that must be both historical and structural" (Sartre, 1960, p. 107). At the same time, Sartre criticizes Marxism of that time for its detachment from life, which has practically turned into pure theorizing, which is why it lacks an existential dimension. Instead, "the very concepts used in Marxist research to describe our historical society – "exploitation", "alienation", "fetishization", "materialization", and so on – are just those that directly relate to existential structures" (Sartre, 1960, p. 107).

That is, on the one hand, he saw the significance of Marxist theory precisely in that it indicated the path to liberation, to overcoming alienation. But at the same time, in his opinion, this theory is in a sclerotic state because it has lost touch with specific realities. In it, the general dominates the partial, the particular, the singular (after all, there is a kind of terror of the general, which was also manifested in the real practice of the Marxists’ activities, when for the sake of the common idea it was possible to sacrifice the lives of individuals).

It was for this reason that Sartre argued that Marxism needed to include existentialism in its bosom. In this context, he referred to Marx’s approach to analyzing human being as "ascending from the abstract to the concrete". That is, one should move from the general concepts of the type "population", "classes", "groups" to an individual in a particular situation. However, this is not enough. Sartre believed that there should also be existential psychoanalysis that would investigate a person from his/her childhood. According to him, only psychoanalysis is able to investigate the behavior of a child, a certain type of which is imposed on him/her by adults, inclining to certain social roles and forming a certain worldview. Only it allows one to comprehend a person in his/her entirety, taking into account both present circumstances of life and child mental traumas and environmental influences (Sartre, 1960, p. 46).

However, as the author noted,

Today’s Marxists care only for adults: reading them, one might think that we are born at the age when we receive our first salary; they have forgotten their own childhood, and everything happens as if people feel their alienation and materialization first of all in their own work, while everyone experiences them primarily as a child in the work of his/her parents. (Sartre, 1960, p. 47)

It is for this reason that Marxists cannot move from general and abstract definitions of human to the particular traits of an individual. That is, a general view of historical events and determination factors, although it indicates a possible direction of society development, but does not allow understanding the specifics of each historical episode and the role of a particular person.

According to Sartre, Marx’s followers focused too much on the thesis that socio-economic conditions shape a person and did not pay attention to his assertion that people also make history. In particular, he wrote:

If one were to show the complexity of Marxist thought, one would have to say that, during the period of exploitation a person is both a product of one’s own product and a historical figure who in no way can be considered a product. This contradiction is not frozen, it should be captured in the movement of the same practice. (Sartre, 1960, p. 61)

The practice is understood here as the transition from objective to objective through interiorization. Accordingly, subjective acts as a necessary moment of an objective process. "To become real conditions of practice, the material conditions that guide human relations must be experienced in the particularity of partial situations" (Sartre, 1960, p. 66).

The notion of "project", which is characterized by a certain focus on … (elan vers …), plays an important role here. It is necessary to point out the peculiarity of Sartre’s understanding of this concept. Usually, we associate it with a specific plan, goal, means of achieving the results, etc. In fact, it should be understood in the context of the intentionality theory, which refers only to the focus on something of our consciousness. As Sartre himself explained,

The word "project" originally refers to a certain human position (projects are "implemented"), which assumes as its basis a pro-ject, an existential structure; and this very word, as such, is only possible as a partial realization of human reality, since it is a pro-ject. In this sense, it itself manifests the project from which it originates, just as a product contains and returns to us the human work that created it. (Sartre, 1960, p. 106)

(It should be noted that Sartre spelled the word "project" (pro-jet) through a hyphen, which must indicate its original meaning: "throw forward". Thus, he emphasized the primal intentionality contained in the word project).

Sartre emphasized that

A person defines him/herself by his/her project. This material existence constantly exceeds the condition that made it; it unveils and determines its situation, transcending it in order to be objectified through work, action, or gesture. The project should not be confused with the will, which is an abstract entity; although in certain circumstances, it may take a willful form. … It is a constant production of oneself through labor and practice and is our own structure. (Sartre, 1960, p. 95)

So, this is a constant going beyond us in the direction of… It was the transcendence that Sartre called existence, or freedom, or choice. This is existence, because in the absence of a substantive basis a person becomes a being that constantly transcends the situation. This is freedom because human acts in a state of uncertainty. This is a choice, because this impulse to objectivization in different people takes many forms, because each of us has our own field of options from which to choose. Thus, the subjective holds in itself objectivity, which it denies and exceeds in the direction of some new objectivity, and this new objectivity as objectification exteriorizates the internal of the project as objectified subjectivity.

However, as Sartre noted, there is another side to this process. Usually, because a person lives in a society that imposes certain work on each of its members, a certain relationship to the product of labor, and certain industrial relations, we have, as a certain fact, certain determinations of personality. Being involved in this system of determinations, a person is compelled to obey external precepts, and therefore to reproduce those circumstances that contribute to his/her alienation. Hence, it seems that there is a certain doom of a person to remain in the system of alienation forever. However, Sartre believed that there was also a place for the existential sphere of human existence, namely: the singularity of the person, the uniqueness of circumstances, the presence of contradictory tendencies, the action of different forces, the opacity of the situation, etc.

We refuse to confuse an alienated person with a thing and alienation with the physical laws that govern external conditions. We affirm the specificity of human action that pervades the social environment, preserving all these determinations, and which transforms the world on the basis of these conditions. For us, a person is characterized above all by exceedance of a certain situation, because he/she is capable of doing what was done to him/her, even if he/she is never aware of his/her objectification. It is this exceedance that we find in the root of the human and, above all, in need… (Sartre, 1960, p. 63)

Sartre’s appeal to the notion of "need" is indicative of his second ethics. If in the first ethics he emphasized some arbitrariness of choice (spontaneity as a sign of choice correctness), in the writings of the later period the philosopher tried to find a justification for choosing one or another project. And since the influence of external determinations is already recognized here, one cannot but ignore the needs that determine the existence of any living organism. That is, needs are not just a shortage, they are emerging as a driving force. That is, needs are not just a shortage, they emerge as a driving force. In person, Sartre singled out the need to become a full-fledged person. We can say that in his view, this need is present in all human actions, even in those related to alienation. We can say that in his view, this need is present in all human actions, even in those related to alienation. That is, alienation may change the results of the action, but not its profound reality. After all, since human is a being that constantly transcends existing circumstances, in this movement practice human goes beyond the limits of the existing situation and gradually (according to Sartre – "patiently") moves forward towards true humanity.

Thus, one can see both the similarity between the position outlined in the "Existentialism is a Humanism" and the difference in understanding of the person represented in the work "The Problem of Method". In particular, in the latter work, as in the previous one, a person is also a project, he/she also acts without support, and he/she is doomed to freedom of choice. But in the writings of the 1950s, social determination, human belonging to certain social groups, and specific conditions of his/her existence were already taken into account. Previously, if a person had to resist social influence under any circumstances, now Sartre recognizes the deforming power of that influence, the force of circumstances and the lack of adequate means for resistance in a person, although there is still the possibility for fighting against the fetishization and materialization.

Accordingly, there is some difference between the first and second ethics. Previously, Sartre placed all the responsibility for the right choice on a single (so to speak isolated) individual, that is, in his opinion, everyone at the pre-reflective level has the ability to realize his/her original ontological freedom and therefore bears full responsibility for the made or unmade choice (society can only interfere with this, to form false installations in a person). That is, it depends on the person whether he or she makes the right choice, or whether he or she blindly obeys socially defined requirements and guidelines.

The main difference between them was that the purpose of ethical theory was somewhat changed. If for the first ethics the main purpose is freedom as a basis for self-transformation, and the responsibility for this is entirely on the individual, then for the second ethics, the main purpose is the realization of the ontological needs of human as a special representative of a certain species of living beings. According to Sartre, ontological needs form the basis of the existence of moral norms/values. However, among many needs, the philosopher distinguishes between primitive (true) ones and artificial (false). In addition, human beings, unlike other living beings, have higher needs: love, communication, knowledge, meaningful life, etc. After all, the latter needs emerge as a desire for self-fulfillment, and therefore the ultimate goal of the second ethic is the integral humanity or the full value of existence.

After all, since, in his view, all human practices are rooted in the overriding need to seek human self-fulfillment, he advises people to unite for the common goal. Accordingly, we must help others to achieve their self-fulfillment, because our own self-realization depends on those who are also working to achieve this common goal.

Thus, once again, we emphasize that the first ethics was based on the fact that the human consciousness at any moment is capable of pre-reflectively be aware of his/her freedom. Moreover, nothing can prevent a person from being aware of his/her freedom and realizing it (hence Sartre’s pathos when accusing other people of insincerity and self-deception). In contrast, in the second ethic both the goal of ethics (unlike the previous goal – transformation through the realization of ontological freedom, the goal of second ethics is integral humanity, which is being realized historically and socially), and the ways to achieve it are changed. Sartre recognizes that only with the help of others, and only gradually, people will have the power and ability to fulfill a morally determined goal – integral humanity. The path of the first ethics is the path of ascetics, people of the strong spirit. The second ethic proposes a gradual evolution towards the humanistic choice for all members of humanity. This is an ethic he called "realistic materialistic morality" (Anderson, 2013).

According to T. Anderson (1993), an American researcher of Sartre’s works, the content of the second ethics is most fully presented in a manuscript submitted by the author in May 1964 to a conference on ethics in Rome. This manuscript was never published, but is now stored in the National Library of Paris and is available for review. This ethic is based on the ontology of the "Critique of Dialectical Reason", and attests to Sartre’s transition from an individualistic position to a collectivist one. Although in the same way as in previous writings, he proceeds from the position of phenomenology and focuses on the "general ontological structure" of moral experience that is present in all varieties of such experience.

But as Sartre elaborates on his conception of universal morality, he is confronted with the problem of how to reconcile existing morals in different societies with his intentions of morality that matter to all mankind. This basis for the new morality should be the "ontology of human needs", where the main need is self-realization. As T. Anderson (2015) points out, assessing Sartre’s final conclusion, "true humanism can only be based on the mutual recognition by humans of their human needs and their rights to their satisfaction" (p. 21).

Thus, in the process of further evolution of Sartre’s views, he was reoriented to the ontological "We". This allowed him to raise the issue of the defining primordial conflict between humans and even to assert that there is an internal ontological connection between human beings as they belong to the same species.


The article substantiates the thesis that Sartre’s position on humanism is conditioned by the specific understanding of the authentic human existence as a constant self-transcendence, the realization by the person of a project that makes a person a creator of values. Therefore, Sartre’s humanism can only be understood in the context of this self-construction and the responsibility of human for his/her choice. The author has proved that although this concept was further changed, the main intentions of the Sartre’s approach remained the same. Thus, while Sartre sought to combine existentialism and Marxist understanding of the historical process, he nevertheless emphasized that the primal intentionality of human being (project or transcendence) is decisive in all subsequent actions and doings, despite the fact that real practice may demonstrate even the reverse movement towards humanity.

Having defined the universality of the human situation in the world as the presence of certain a priori restrictions, the philosopher comes to the recognition of intersubjectivity, which allows him to reach a new type of morality, which defines "integral humanity" or "full-fledged human" as its goal.


Therefore, the concept discussed above is based on the problem of the ontological dimension of human existence and its correlation with social norms/values. Although such an interpretation risks reducing socio-cultural norms/values to biological or physiological needs and reactions, it is still impossible to ignore the fact that there are some reasons for such statements. In particular, it is known that some neurophysiological reactions of the human body, fixed in the cerebral cortex, determine the basic relationship of a person with the environment (aggression and hostility or mutual assistance and cooperation). Accordingly, we can conclude that both hostility and the need for others are the fundamental existentials of human existence. It is on this basis that Sartre proclaimed the thesis of the existence of a primary (ontological) conflict between people (however, having ignored the other basic vital characteristic, namely the existing orientation in support of others in the primitive community). This can be explained by the further change in the views of Sartre, since he later turned his attention to another fundamental property of human, which is similarly fixed in the process of evolution.

That is, if you focus on the basic existentials of human existence, then both the first and the second Sartre’s positions are legitimate. By the way, modern culture exploits and experiments with both the aggressiveness of human and his/her attraction to other, altruistic intentions. Similarly, during the actions of the "New Left" (which, by the way, Sartre warmly welcomed, seeing in them personifications of manifestations of spontaneous, genuine choice), both acts of vandalism and manifestations of genuine creativity took place. This proves that spontaneity as such is not yet a guarantee of a truly humanistic human choice. Being under the influence of basic intentions, one must still prefer altruistic aspirations, though with some warnings: on the one hand, the movement towards cooperation can lead to the leveling of unique personality traits, even to the alienation, and on the other – to inhibiting the impulse to fight may the survival of mankind in the face of any external threat. However, in the course of the socio-cultural evolution of human, his/her natural needs have been transformed in such a way that sometimes their simulacra become self-sufficient, and society cultivates them regardless of their previous vital orientation. Modern culture is experimenting with both the aggressiveness of human and his/her attraction to others, humanistic intentions. In the end, the scope of these sociocultural experiences negates, replaces or blocks the basic intentions of human nature, resulting in the loosening of the human psyche with corresponding consequences – all kinds of mental disorders. Since further movement in this direction seems dangerous enough, therefore, the appeal of the modern man to the search for authenticity appears as some alternative to the dehumanizing influence of the Art Nouveau culture.


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В. В. ЛЯХ1*, М. І. ХИЛЬКО2*

1*Інститут філософії імені Г. С. Сковороди НАН України (Київ, Україна), ел. пошта,
ORCID 0000-0003-4683-0838
2*Київський національний університет імені Тараса Шевченка (Київ, Україна), ел. пошта, ORCID 0000-0002-0295-5332




Мета. Показати специфіку та евристичну цінність гуманізму французького екзистенціаліста Ж.-П. Сартра, представленого як в його ранніх творах, де превалювала ізоляціоністська позиція, так і враховуючи його еволюцію до різних типів колективної відповідальності та спроб побудувати універсальну мораль на основі онтологічної інтегральної людяності. Теоретичний базис. Зважаючи на актуальність в сучасному світі теми пошуку людиною автентичного існування, автори аналізують концепцію гуманізму Сартра, яка залишається малодослідженою в українському філософському просторі, оскільки більшість його праць пізнього періоду творчості залишилися неперекладеними і невідомі українському загалу. Тобто виникає необхідність розглянути феномен людини та основні її характеристики, які, зрештою, визначають, який тип гуманізму заслуговує на подальшу підтримку і розвиток. Автори ставлять екзистенціалістський вимір людського буття, який є одним з найважливіших детермінантів людської поведінки та способів самовизначення людиною свого існування, в контекст загального розвитку гуманістичної традиції сучасної антропології. Наукова новизна. В статті обґрунтована теза, що позиція Сартра щодо гуманізму зумовлена специфікою розуміння ним автентичного існування людини як постійного самотрансцендування, здійснення людиною проєкту, що робить людину творцем цінностей. Відтак гуманізм Сартра можна зрозуміти лише в контексті цього самоконструювання й відповідальності людини за свій вибір. Авторами доведено, що хоча ця концепція в подальшому зазнала змін, основна інтенція Сартрівського підходу залишилася тією ж самою. Так, поєднавши екзистенціалізм і марксистське розуміння історичного процесу, Сартр все ж наголошує на тому, що первісна інтенціональність людського буття (проєкт або трансцендування) є визначальною у всіх подальших діях і вчинках, незважаючи на те, що реальна практика може демонструвати відхилення і навіть зворотній рух щодо людяності. Визначивши універсальність людського становища в світі як наявність певних апріорних обмежень, філософ доходить до визнання інтерсуб’єктивності, що дозволяє йому вийти на новий тип моралі, яка визначає як свою мету "інтегральну людяність" або "повноцінну людину". Висновки. Тлумачення раннім Сартром гуманізму спиралося на уявлення про людину як такої, що перебуває в постійному трансцендуванні (виходу за межі), вона постійно конструює себе, вона зорієнтована на майбутнє (але це – чисте майбутнє, не заплановане і не визначене). В такому разі людина є творцем цінностей і їх законодавцем у цьому світі. Водночас, пізній Сартр наголошував на тому, що оскільки людина існує в соціумі, де, як правило, перебуває в стані відчуження, то неминуче постає питання, за яких умов та за допомогою яких засобів можливе відтворення й реалізація справді гуманістичного виміру. Позиція Сартра ґрунтується на тому, що існує первісна потреба людини в самореалізації, бути людяною.

Ключові слова: Сартр; гуманізм; інтегральна людяність; екзистенція; проєкт; відчуження; практика; трансцендування; антропологія

В. В. ЛЯХ1*, Н. И. ХИЛЬКО2*

1*Институт философии имени Г. С. Сковороды НАН Украины (Киев, Украина), эл. почта,
ORCID 0000-0003-4683-0838
2*Киевский национальный университет имени Тараса Шевченко (Киев, Украина), эл. почта, ORCID 0000-0002-0295-5332




Цель. Показать специфику и эвристическую ценность гуманизма французского экзистенциалиста Ж.-П. Сартра, представленного как в его ранних произведениях, где превалировала изоляционистская позиция, так и учитывая его эволюцию к различным типам коллективной ответственности и попыток построить универсальную мораль на основе онтологической интегральной человечности. Теоретический базис. Учитывая актуальность в современном мире темы поиска человеком аутентичного существования, авторы анализируют концепцию гуманизма Сартра, которая остается малоисследованной в украинском философском пространстве. То есть возникает необходимость рассмотреть феномен человека и основные его характеристики, которые в итоге определяют, какой тип гуманизма заслуживает на дальнейшую поддержку и развитие. Авторы ставят экзистенциальное измерение человеческого бытия (одной из важнейших детерминант человеческого поведения и способа самоопределения человеком своего существования) в контекст общего развития гуманистической традиции современной антропологии. Научная новизна. В статье обоснован тезис, что позиция Сартра относительно гуманизма обусловлена спецификой понимания им аутентичного существования человека как постоянного самотрансцендирования, осуществление человеком проекта, делающего человека творцом ценностей. Поэтому гуманизм Сартра можно понять только в контексте этого самоконструирования и ответственности человека за свой выбор. Сформулирован вывод, что хотя эта концепция в дальнейшем изменилась, основная интенция сартровского подхода осталась той же самой. Так, соединив экзистенциализм и марксистское понимание исторического процесса, Сартр все же отмечает, что первоначальная интенциональность человеческого бытия (проект или трансцендирование) является определяющей во всех последующих действиях и поступках, несмотря на то, что реальная практика может демонстрировать отклонения и даже обратное движение по отношению к человечности. Выводы. Толкование ранним Сартром гуманизма опиралось на представление о человеке как таком, что пребывает в постоянном трансцендировании (выход за пределы), он постоянно конструирует себя, он ориентирован на будущее (но это – чистое будущее, не запланированное и не обозначеннное). В таком случае человек оказывается творцом ценностей и их законодателем в этом мире. В то же время, поздний Сартр отмечал, что поскольку человек существует в социуме, где, как правило, он находится в состоянии отчуждения, то неизбежно возникает вопрос, при каких условиях и с помощью каких средств возможно воспроизведение и реализация действительно гуманистического измерения. Позиция Сартра основывается на том, что существует первоначальная потребность человека в самореализации, быть человечным.

Ключевые слова: Сартр; гуманизм; интегральная человечность; экзистенция; проект; отчуждение; практика; трансцендирование; антропология

Received: 26.03.2019

Accepted: 14.11.2019

CПрямая соединительная линия 5reative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

doi: 10.15802/ampr.v0i16.188890 © V. V. Liakh, M. I. Khylko, 2019

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