Aesthetic Consciousness and Literature: Sartre’s Existential Queries


Dr Parneet Jaggi
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Governement College, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India


Jean-Paul Sartre raised certain pertinent existential queries exploring the realms of not only art, philosophy and literature, but addressed all aspects of man’s being. His philosophic thought starts with two types of being- Being-in-itself and Being-for-itself. In-itself is the transcendent essence of human existence and hence beyond the framework of space and time. Being-for-itself perpetually seeks completion. Being arises through Nothingness, yet Nothingness denies Being. He talks of three types of conscious ness: perceptual, conceptual and imaginative. Imagination operates on the basis of the negation of what is here and now. The imaginative act results in the creation of an unreal object. Why then does man create art? This is the question which immediately arises in this context. All creative activity, according to Sartre, derives its impetus from Being-for-others. Art is an expression language (the term ‘language’ here is taken in a wider sense and does not merely refer to verbal language) that reveals the others. Without language there cannot be any awareness possible awareness of oneself as well as the others. Therefore, language becomes valuable as a means of revealing the other in his essential freedom. His essay ‘What is Literature?’ delves into the deeper questions of creation of literature beginning with what, for whom, what should and so on