To be or not to be



Jean Paul Sartres, better known as philosopher of the 20th century,   did not only influence philosophy but also other social disciplines with his writings and activism. Unlike Immanuel Kant or others, he was not  an alienated philosopher, writing in his dark nest about the outside world, almost surrounded by a bubble of nothing but himself. Sartre was not segregated from the real world by an ivory tower, he was a man who lived in, participated to and shaped the world he thought to be living in, suiting his own ideas about existentialism. Activity and consciousness form the crucial part of existence according to Sartres’ ontology. Depending on how you act and what you are aware of in doing so, you either practice nothingness or you exist.


In his novel ‘The Age of Reason’ (1945) the protagonist Mattheu, left with brutal rationalism realises, there is no allegiance of his to anyone except himself. That includes for Mattheu that without ‘responsibility for (his) my own existence, it would seem utterly absurd to go on exsisting.’ (The Age Of Reason) Sartres often transmitted his ideals through such charackters. Being conscious of the power and responsibility one has for him or herself is a deciding feature of active existence.


In 1947 Jean Paul Sartres’ screenplay  ‘The Chips are Down’ was published. The screenplay setting is Paris and its’ main characters, Ève and Pierre are dead soulmates who get a chance to win their life back. They never met alife.The only condition they have to meet in order to win back their life is succeeding  in truly loving each other. They both wonder around Paris as spirits, unable to interact with or talk to anyone but themselves and have a hard time in doing so. Why? Because the way they died was betrayal and now they  see the ones who killed and betrayed them without being capable of doing nothing to stop them (the living) from going on.  Ève and Pierre corresponding to Sartres’ existentialism, are not able to be because they can not interact with the real world. Perhaps the lack of interaction has a lack of emotion as a result for both: Ève and Pierre. The Chips are down the moment they die the first time. What strikes me most about that screenplay is thinking of people who are alive but act as if their chips were down already, ignoring the great value of having at least a chance to really be.



Following Sartre a person starts being when it moves away from passivity. But it is not as easy as it may seem to really exist. The thoughts that produce energy and energy that is turned to action have to somehow correspond with the will of the actor.

How many times do you do something you do not fully understand, do not fully support, do not fully accept?

If it is more than the times you do accept, do support and do understand what you do, ‘you are not’. You do not exist actively- un-being is passivity. You carry on and let the world pass you by, instead of walking with it and against it, fighting and loving it truly. How many times do you fight your declared intention and your will ?