Journal of Romance Studies

Nothingness and otherness in L’Être et le néant; or ‘Pierre, Paul, Anny et les autres’

Journal of Romance Studies (2006), 6, (1-2), 143–153.

Abstract

In L’Être et le néant, Sartre first presents otherness as deriving from nothingness. But he abruptly adds a long section about being-for-others to his primary definition of the being-for-itself as a deeply contradictory being. Therefore, being-for-itself is defined as fundamentally shaped by its relationship with others. In attempting to give a better formulation to the ‘problem of Others’ than Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger, Sartre aims to renew the tradition of philosophical examples. Instead of citing the well-worn example of Socrates, he uses figures such as the waiter and ‘mon ami Pierre’ to represent both everyman and ‘my Other’. Sartre’s use of named individuals such as Pierre, Paul or Anny establishes the Others (and more specifically, his Others) as a haunting presence in his book and his philosophy.

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Greene, Virginie