Sartre and Consciousness

Cartesian cogito and Sartrean intentionality:

In Being and Nothingness, Sartre attempts to rethink the Cartesian cogito. Thus, against Descartes and his “I think therefore I am“, Sartre raises the following thesis: “I am, I exist.” Man is above all about a kind of impersonal existence, an “existence without existing.”

According to the existentialist, the acts and states of consciousness do not need any basis to exist: the “I” does not exist, it is a fiction invented by philosophers. Psychic life, spontaneous and thoughtless (= pre-reflective cogito) has its own actions.

For example, I do not think “I’m chasing the subway when I rush to catch it” there is really no “I” because I am “aware of the metro to be caught “. Here we see clearly the influence of Husserlian reading of Descartes: “All consciousness is consciousness of something.”

Consciousness, Sartre, is the sense of psychic life. Thus, in his Theory of emotions, they are magical pipes transforms difficult for us. Fainting, leak, do not change the objective situation.

“Being is exploding in the world”

Consciousness is always directed outward : consciousness has no inside, there is no inner life. This breaks with the classical conception of Socratic introspection: self-discovery is not a quest in itself, but the world, in the world, by immersion in the world: “Being is exploding in the world. “Consciousness, in other words, is an ek-stasis, is multiple.

Cite this article as: Tim, "Sartre and Consciousness, November 30, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, November 30, 2012,

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