Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980), commonly known as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy and Existentialism.
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Early life and thought
Jean-Paul Sartre was born and raised in Paris to Jean-Baptiste Sartre, an officer of the French Navy, and Anne-Marie Schweitzer. His mother was of Alsatian origin, and the first cousin of Nobel Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer. (Her father, Charles Schweitzer, 1844-1935, was the older brother of Albert Schweitzer's father, Louis Théophile, 1846-1925).  When Sartre was 15 months old, his father died of a fever. Anne-Marie raised him with help from her father, Charles Schweitzer, a high school professor of German, who taught Sartre mathematics and introduced him to classical literature at a very early age. As a teenager in the 1920s, Sartre became attracted to philosophy upon reading Henri Bergson's Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. He studied and earned a doctorate in philosophy in Paris at the elite École Normale Supérieure, an institution of higher education that was the alma mater for several prominent French thinkers and intellectuals. Sartre was influenced by many aspects of Western philosophy, absorbing ideas from Kant, Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger, among others. In 1929 at the École Normale, he met Simone de Beauvoir, who studied at the Sorbonne and later went on to become a noted philosopher, writer, and feminist. The two became inseparable and lifelong companions, initiating a romantic relationship, though they were not monogamous. Sartre served as a conscript in the French Army from 1929 to 1931 and he later argued in 1959 that each French person was responsible for the collective crimes during the Algerian War of Independence.
Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyle and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually-destructive conformity (mauvaise foi, literally, "bad faith") and an "authentic" way of "being" became the dominant theme of Sartre's early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work L'Être et le Néant (Being and Nothingness) (1943). Sartre's introduction to his philosophy is his work Existentialism is a Humanism (1946), originally presented as a lecture.
Sartre and World War II
In 1939 Sartre was drafted into the French army, where he served as a meteorologist. He was captured by German troops in 1940 in Padoux, and he spent nine months as a prisoner of war — in Nancy and finally in Stalag 12D, Trier, where he wrote his first theatrical piece, Barionà, fils du tonnerre, a drama concerning Christmas. It was during this period of confinement that Sartre read Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, later to become a major influence on his own essay on phenomenological ontology. Due to poor health (he claimed that his poor eyesight affected his balance) Sartre was released in April 1941. Given civilian status, he recovered his position as a teacher at Lycée Pasteur near Paris, settled at the Hotel Mistral near Montparnasse at Paris, and was given a new position at Lycée Condorcet, replacing a Jewish teacher who had been forbidden to teach by Vichy law.
After coming back to Paris in May 1941, he participated in the founding of the underground group Socialisme et Liberté with other writers Simone de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Toussaint, Dominique Desanti, Jean Kanapa, and École Normale students. In August, Sartre and Beauvoir went to the French Riviera seeking the support of André Gide and André Malraux. However, both Gide and Malraux were undecided, and this may have been the cause of Sartre's disappointment and discouragement. Socialisme et liberté soon dissolved and Sartre decided to write, instead of being involved in active resistance. He then wrote Being and Nothingness, The Flies, and No Exit, none of which were censored by the Germans, and also contributed to both legal and illegal literary magazines.
After August 1944 and the Liberation of Paris, he wrote Anti-Semite and Jew. In the book he tries to explain the etiology of hate by analyzing antisemitic hate. Sartre was a very active contributor to Combat, a newspaper created during the clandestine period by Albert Camus, a philosopher and author who held similar beliefs. Sartre and Beauvoir remained friends with Camus until he turned away from communism, a schism that eventually divided them in 1951, after the publication of Camus' The Rebel. Later, while Sartre was labelled by some authors as a resistant, the French philosopher and resistant Vladimir Jankelevitch criticized Sartre's lack of political commitment during the German occupation, and interpreted his further struggles for liberty as an attempt to redeem himself. According to Camus, Sartre was a writer who resisted, not a resistor who wrote.
When the war ended Sartre established Les Temps Modernes (Modern Times), a monthly literary and political review, and started writing full-time as well as continuing his political activism. He would draw on his war experiences for his great trilogy of novels, Les Chemins de la Liberté (The Roads to Freedom) (1945–1949).