Sartre\'s Existentialism
Jean-Paul Sartre . . . the name is one of the most popular in modern philosophy.

But who was he? What did he write and what were his works about? What was his
role with regard to Existentialism? What is Existentialism, really? What life
influences affected the person as whom he became famous? How would Sartre assess
various social topics that we face today? What are the problems with Sartre\'s
view of Existentialism and existence in general? These are the questions
addressed in the following pages of this brief dissertation. His life Upon
reviewing several sources, it is apparent that Sartre was a very disorganized
and inconsistent individual. Sartre was obsessed with his intellect to the point
of abandon of all else in his life - personal hygiene, honesty, organization,
thoroughness, and more. It seems that he felt he was of superior intelligence in
comparison to all others who surrounded him. He was not necessarily a great and
original thinker, but rather a superb media sensation of sorts. Rather than
developing Existentialist thought, he merely promoted it to amazing popularity
through his eccentric lifestyle. Although he is best known for his association
with Existentialism, it is interesting to note that he denounced its principles
later in life and adopted Marxism, which he also later denounced.

Jean-Paul-Charles-Aymard Sartre was born in Paris on June 21, 1905, the only
child of Anne-Marie Schweitzer Sartre and Jean-Baptiste Sartre. Anne-Marie was
the first cousin of Albert Schweitzer, the famed Nobel Peace Prize recipient,
and the daughter of Karl Schweitzer, who had published texts on religion,
philosophy, and languages. Jean-Baptiste was the son of Eymard Sartre, a doctor
who had written several medical texts. Although his philosophy would deny it, it
may have been fated that Jean-Paul would himself become a famous writer; it was
in his genes. Jean-Baptiste and Anne-Marie were deeply in love. They married on

May 5, 1904. Jean-Baptiste was enlisted in the French Navy and was away on an
assignment when Jean-Paul was born 13 months later. Sadly, hardly more than a
year after the birth of their son, Jean-Baptiste had returned home from China in

November only to fall ill in March and die on September 17, 1906. After the
death of Jean-Baptiste, Anne-Marie moved herself and her young son into her
father\'s house, the Schweitzer home. Karl Schweitzer was a strict and
domineering man and the year the two spent living there affected Sartre\'s life
forever. His mother kept his hair long and dressed him in effeminate clothing,
probably as a means of escaping the oppressive nature of her father. Schweitzer,
however, disgusted by the child\'s appearance, took him to the barber one day and
had his hair cut. Jean-Paul\'s ugliness then became apparent. Without the cloak
of long hair and frilly clothes, his short stature, one eye that looked askance
(from a juvenile illness), and awkward appearance were undeniable, even to his
mother. He was ostracized by other children for his appearance. He was an
outcast. At the age of eight he began to write scripts when he received puppets
from his mom. Children tolerated him in order to be entertained by his shows. He
basked in the attention. He began a pattern of outrageous behavior that it seems
he believed would earn him popularity. Apparently it worked. In October of 1913,

Eymard Sartre died and Jean-Paul fell under near complete control of the

Schweitzers. When war broke out in 1914, it fascinated Sartre, and he wrote some
short stories about it. In 1915 Jean-Paul was enrolled at Lycee Henri IV, a
highly regarded school. Here he found children he could relate to:
intellectually stimulating and of his class level, children who could respect
him for himself. Yet, even at this early age, it was apparent to his teachers
that Jean-Paul did not hone any of his thoughts; his intelligence was apparent,
but he merely skimmed over many subjects without delving into any in depth. His
mother remarried when he was twelve, to the apparent disapproval of Jean-Paul.

The new family moved to LaRochelle in 1917, but after Sartre got into trouble on
several occasions, he was returned to Lycee Henri IV where he was a boarding
student. At this time he became close with Paul-Yves Nizan, a quiet and shy boy
of considerable intellect. Where Sartre was disorganized, slovenly, and
incomplete, Nizan was orderly, stylish, and thorough. Nizan was prone to fits of
depression and drinking, to the fascination of Sartre. The two were nearly
inseparable throughout college and beyond. In 1922 the two enrolled at Lycee

Louis-le-Grand, one of the best preparatory schools of the time. The