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Sartre and God: A Spiritual Odyssey? Part 2

John H. Gillespie

Keywords: ABSENCE; ABSOLUTE; ANTI-THEISM; EVIL; FREEDOM; GOD; GOOD; METAPHYSICS; MORALITY; PARADOX; RELIGION; THE DEATH OF GOD

These two articles examine whether Sartre's final interviews, recorded in L'Espoir maintenant (Hope Now) indicate a final turn to God and religious belief through an overview of his engagement with the idea of God throughout his career. Part 1, published in Sartre Studies International 19, no. 1, examined Sartre's early atheism, but noted the pervasive nature of secularised Christian metaphors and concepts in his religion of letters and also the centrality of mankind's desire to be God in L'Etre et le néant (Being and Nothingness). Sartre's theoretical writings sought to refute the idea of God, but in doing so, made God paradoxically both absent and present. Part 2 considers Sartre's anti-theism and its implications for his involvement with the idea of God before examining in detail his final encounter with theism as outlined in L'Espoir maintenant, arguing that it is part of Sartre's long-term engagement with the divine, but refuting the idea that he became a theist at the end of his life.

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