Sartre and Marcuse on the relation between needs and normativity: A step beyond postmodernism in moral theory

Sartre Studies International 10 (2):28-46 (2004)
Abstract
In this article, I will investigate Sartre's claims regarding need as an element of the human condition, and I will compare them to the analysis of need found in the works of Marx and of Herbert Marcuse. These comparisons will raise important questions, such as: given the cultural diversity of experiences of need, is Sartre justified in speaking of needs common to all humans? Are these human needs to be considered permanent fixtures, or do they change historically? And, how might this affect their status as fundamental and truly human? Finally, is it even possible for us to recognize our real human needs, and to distinguish them from artificially created and alienated false "needs," while we exist in what Sartre identifies as the current state of subhumanity?
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