Sartre: A Matter of Death and Life
Recall that No Exit is life without a break, concentrate-of-life, undiluted living-
o A point Sartre underlines by pointing out that the characters do not sleep
or even blink
Have to live “one‟s eyes open forever”
o None of this alters the essential qualities of life
Death on the other hand, remains absurd, an interruption of life
But what is this „life‟ that makes such a difference?
Sartre holds that life is simply the set of actions one has performed: no more no
o Takes this view to rule out any appeal to what one is meant to do, what
one might have been, etc.
A person is “nothing else but the sum of his actions”
(Existentialism is a Humanism)
Sartre inverts Nietzsche‟s slogan that there is “no being behind
doing”: whereas Nietzsche meant that complex historical
developments were required in order for humans to become
psychologically complex, Sartre means that non-events are nothing
If so, what‟s wrong with death?
o It puts an end to our projects that it cuts things of too soon?
o Seems wrong, or at least not strong enough to capture Sartre‟s claim that
death is more than an inconvenience, it‟s absurd
Think about the afterlife