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Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism places emphasis on ‘radical freedom’ and the a

Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism places emphasis on ‘radical freedom’ and the absence of a predetermined essence. It resists compatibility with religious pursuits, nevertheless, an exploration reveals that there is potential for a fruitful synthesis between existential autonomy and the transcendent quest for the divine. In order to reveal this, the following thesis aims to compare and contrast the perspectives of Jean-Paul Sartre with that of a Christian existentialist, Gabriel Marcel.
Through a meticulous analysis and comparison of Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Being & Nothingness’ (1943) and the thought of Gabriel Marcel, this dissertation contends that the pursuit of transcendence can coexist harmoniously with Sartrean existentialism, providing individuals with a diverse yet equally valid path towards what Sartre defines as human completion.
This thesis challenges conventional interpretations by arguing that the existential void, rather than being an insurmountable obstacle, serves as the catalyst for one’s understanding of the Human Condition. From the autonomous self-creation advocated by Sartre to the relational encounter with the divine as proposed by Marcel.
Chapter 1: Radical Freedom and the Existential Void: Sartre’s Perspective
This chapter will provide an in-depth analysis of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential philosophy, focusing on his key concepts of radical freedom, existential void, and self-creation as articulated in Being and Nothingness.
Key Points:
• Detailed exposition of Sartre’s idea of radical freedom and its implications for human existence.
• Examination of the existential void and how it shapes the individual’s quest for meaning.
• Analysis of Sartre’s rejection of predetermined essence and the emphasis on self-determination.
• Discussion on the perceived incompatibility of Sartrean existentialism with religious pursuits.
Chapter 2: Encountering the Transcendent Other: Gabriel Marcel’s Christian Existentialism
This chapter will delve into Gabriel Marcel’s existential philosophy, highlighting his approach to the transcendent and the relational aspects of human existence, contrasting it with Sartre’s atheistic existentialism.
Key Points:
• Introduction to Marcel’s Christian existentialism and the concept of the Transcendent Other.
• Exploration of relational encounters and their significance in achieving human fulfilment.
• Discussion of Marcel’s views on mystery, faith, and the role of God in human existence.
• Analysis of how Marcel’s perspective addresses human incompletion and the quest for meaning.
Chapter 3: Towards a Synthesis: Bridging Sartrean Autonomy and Marcelian Transcendence
This chapter will compare the existential philosophies of Sartre and Marcel, arguing for a synthesis that accommodates existential autonomy and the quest for transcendence, ultimately favouring Marcel’s perspective.
Key Points:
• Comparative analysis of Sartre’s and Marcel’s approaches to the existential void and human incompletion.
• Examination of the potential for reconciling Sartrean radical freedom with Marcelian transcendence.
• Argument in favour of Marcel’s perspective as a step further and beyond Sartre’s approach to human completion, whilst also acknowledging Sartre’s vital contribution.
• Discussion on the implications of this synthesis for contemporary existential and religious thought.

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