In his quest for an ethics, Sartre went from a universalism
of a Kantian type (L’Existentianlisme est un humanisme) to inscribing
ethical action in History, that is, in a dialectics of ends and means
(Cahiers pour une morale). This dialectics, here studied in the period
between 1938 and 1948, also constitutes the subtext of a number of
his literary and dramatic works, where it recurs more insistently than
in its philosophical developments: Sartre’s first intuition, contingency.