Death and Liberation: A Critical Investigation of Death in Sartre's Being and Nothingness

Minerva--An Internet Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):85-98 (2009)
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Abstract

In Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre boldly asserts that: “To be dead is to be a prey for theliving.”1 In the following paper, I argue that Sartre’s rather pessimistic understanding of death isunwarranted. In fact, Herbert Marcuse forcefully suggests that Sartre is one of the “betrayers of Utopia”because Sartre’s notion of death stifles efforts towards true liberation. By returning to Eros andCivilization, I explain and further substantiate Marcuse’s critique of Sartrean freedom as originallypresented in Marcuse’s essay, “Existentialism: Remarks on Jean-Paul Sartre’s L’Etre et le Neant.”

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Brian Lightbody
Brock University

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