Sartre and Heidegger on Social Deformation and the Anthropocene

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  • 1 St. John’s University
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The age of the Anthropocene is arguably upon us. Heidegger’s famous discussion of technology helps us understand the attitude that put us in this crisis. Although Sartre’s work in the Critique of Dialectical Reason seems to be distinct from Heidegger’s, I show how his concern with the socially alienating phenomenon of seriality explains why this technological attitude is so persistent. And by studying Heidegger and Sartre together, we get a better sense of how our environmental destitution is correlated to a social-political one. Relational respect is offered as an existential norm that helps us move beyond our violent tendency to objectify beings, both human and other than human.

Contributor Notes

Paul Gyllenhammer is an Associate Professor at St. John’s University. His research interests are in existential-phenomenology, hermeneutics and virtue ethics. Email:

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture


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