Philosophy 63 (245):317-330 (1988)

Jean-Paul Sartre, in describing the realization of his freedom, was often inclined to say mysterious things like ‘I am what I am not’, ‘I am not what I am’ He was therefore plainly contradicting himself, but was this merely a playful literary figure , or was he really being incoherent? By the latter judgment I do not mean to reject his statements entirely ; for I believe there is an intimate link between contradiction and freedom, as I shall explain in this paper. But a minor thing we must first have out of the way is the suggestion that Sartre's language was just a rhetorical trope, designed merely to express some banal platitude in a bemusing way: ‘I am not yet what I will be’, ‘I am no longer what I was’ are sane and sensible, for instance, but cannot be the meant content of Sartre's sayings, since, while they would indeed describe the reform of some character, they would be appropriate only before or after some metamorphosis, not, as Sartre clearly intended, in the midst of some process of riddance and conversion, whether radical or otherwise. Yet, in the turmoil of such a change, ‘I am not what I am’ still, surely, cannot be true, and if that is the case, Sartre must be being inocherent, and therefore, obfuscating and deliberately obscure, and hence, it seems, must properly be rejected by all right and clear thinking men
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0031819100043576
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,221
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Probabilistic Foundations for Operator Logic.B. H. Slater - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):517-530.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Incompatibility of God's Existence with Human Freedom: Sartre's Existential Atheism.Jove Aguas - 2007 - Philosophia: International Journal of Philosophy (Philippine e-journal) 36 (1).
Contradiction and Freedom.B. H. Slater - 1988 - Philosophy 63 (245):317 - 330.
The Development of Sartre's View of Freedom.Thomas Warren Waldock - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
The Call to the Reader's Freedom in Jean-Paul Sartre's Literary Criticism.Heather Lancaster - 1993 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Freedom.Jonathan Webber - 2011 - In Sebastian Luft & Søren Overgaard (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Phenomenology. Routledge.
Fanon, Sartre, Violence, and Freedom.Neil Roberts - 2004 - Sartre Studies International 10 (2):139-160.
Sartre on Freedom and Education.David Detmer - 2005 - Sartre Studies International 11 (s 1-2):78-90.
The Human and Freedom in the Thought of Jean-Paul Sartre and Nicolai Berdyaev.Norman Roy Flowers - 1999 - Dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Sartre the Other: Conflict, Conversion, Language the We.Gavin Rae - 2009 - Sartre Studies International 15 (2):54-77.
A Contradiction in Sartre's Theory of Freedom.Quentin Smith - 1979 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 60 (4):369.


Added to PP index

Total views
23 ( #476,650 of 2,455,394 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #225,685 of 2,455,394 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes