Summer 1954 • Vol. XVI No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1954 |

French Existentialism: Its Social Philosophies

No other feature of French existentialism has achieved so much notoriety as its social philosophy.1 The climactic line from Jean-Paul Sartre's play Huis clos, "Hell is other people," serves as the favorite butt for horrified comment. Without question, existentialism is brutally frank about the infernal aspects of social relations. But French existentialism is not all of one piece. Even Sartre's views have shifted so far that one is tempted to speak of two Sartres: the Sartre of the infernal Huis clos, reflecting mostly the social philosophy of his L'être et le néant, and the Sartre of the purgatorial Le diable et le bon Dieu, the counterpart of his L'existentialisme est un humanisme, whose hero, Goetz, eventually chooses to live and fight united with his fellow men in a free society. Furthermore, there is the social philosophy of a Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in which human existence is engaged in the dubious but by no means hopeless struggle indicated by the title Humanisme et terreur

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Theatre Letter

By Mary O. Hivnor

No other feature of French existentialism has achieved so much notoriety as its social philosophy.1 The climactic line from Jean-Paul Sartre's play Huis clos, "Hell is other people," serves as […]

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