Atheism is at the heart of Sartre’s philosophy but also of his reflections on writing and the choice of the imaginary. Nonetheless, atheism for him is not a matter of an acquired and self-assured spiritual option. It is a struggle against the temptation of faith, a struggle which is nothing else than the aspiration to Being, to a justified existence, to the surpassing of contingency. This is why Sartre can qualify atheism as ‘cruel’. To be victorious against the illusions of necessity, against the confusion of literature and religion, atheism is a never-ending process of liquidation of the very idea of ‘Salvation’.
Alexis Chabot (professeur agrégé; Ph.D., French) lectures at Sciences Po, Paris, and at the Sorbonne (University Paris I). He is the literature secretary for the Groupe d’Études Sartriennes (GES). His main publication is Sartre et le Père (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2012).