Tadeusz M. Jaroszewski
Existentialist Philosophy and Situational Ethics of Jean Paul Sartre
The article contains an exposition of the moral philosophy of J. P. Sartre as well as a trial of its evaluation. The author presents the social basis and main theses of Sartre’s .philosophical system and stresses the questions of social conditioning, real contents, and functions of the situational ethics of Sartre. According to the author, the situational ethics of Sartre, being an expression of feelings of intellectuals, middle-class, and students in the period of violent changes in our civilization, simply describes a certain type of man, peculiar to these conditions and this time. Therefore, this type cannot be considered a definite universal construction of a human subject. Pessimism, characteristic for the existentialism, as an expression of .certain social and political conditions, can be easily surmounted, provided that a possibility of definite social transformations can be demonstrated. This gives evidence of a positive alternative which proposes development of social democracy, elimination of the remnants of worship of the individual, as well as a more and more full realization of social humanism, that are limiting the experiments of existentialism. Together with an increasing conviction of a possibility to surmount and to abolish the capitalistic alienation and together with the development of socialist democracy, when marxist thinking comprises more and more effectively all aspects of human fates , the social basis of existentialism and its influence are losing ground. On the other hand, whatever might be said about arbitrariness and subjectivism of many theses of existentialism, it has raised many essential questions of particular importance in our time. These are: 1) subjective aspect of human freedom in situations of a choice of an action; 2) responsibility of an individual to himself, other people, and history; 3) contradiction between general systems of valuation and norms and of a definite situation in which a choice is taken; 4) danger of a non-authentic apparent communication; 5) danger of a lost of personality in conditions of consumptionist civilisation; 6) necessity of responsibility and engagement; 7) necessity of forbearance, tolerance and respecting the subjective world of other persons; 8) existence of conflict situations. According to the author, a resolution of the above problems, which are important for a modern man, can be done only basing on marxism which should be conceived in a creative way. It is necessary, however, to reject arbitrary assumptions of the existentialist metaphysics, ethical formalism, and, above all, ahistorical conception of freedom. The opinions of Sartre that the, good a priori cannot exist, that everybody should determine his own existence, and that in each situation he should maintain his creative attitude and moral alertness, are in a certain sense and within certain limits right and productive. However, depriving people of a possibility to build any system of values and norms of a super-subjective character is a risky thing and may lead to moral relativity and nihilism. The social function of the existentialism is also a double one. On the one hand, existentialism, which demonstrates a super-historical and unchangeable character of the drama of human existence, in some way confirms and justifies the social system submitted to critic. On the other hand, as it states a moral and idealistic outsidership, bareness, and loneliness of a human individual in a modern bourgeois 1society, existentialism presents an important ethical indictment directed to the capitalistic society and indirectly shows a necessity to create such relations which would remove the tragic gap between individual and society. This is the reason of a peculiar paradox that for same people the existentialism is a point of departure from the files of the revolutionary movement, and for others a point which leads into marxism – cum duo faciunt idem, non est idem.