Volume 37, Issue 1, Spring 2007
Sartre on Kant in The Transcendence of the Ego
Sartre’s relation to Kant in his essay The Transcendence of The Ego (TE) remains unexplained. In the last two decades, attention has increasingly been focused on TE for two main reasons. On the one hand, this essay provides an early formulation of a fundamental insight leading to Sartre’s masterpiece, Being and Nothingness. On the other hand, Sartre’s critical reflections on consciousness and self-consciousness remains relevant for our contemporary philosophical thinking. In TE, Sartre’s main goal is apparently to criticize Kant’s transcendental idealism and thereby establish his own thesis about the spontaneity of consciousness. Therefore, an explication and evaluation of Sartre’s critical reading of Kant is crucial to make sense of his own position. Though there has been attention in the discussion to TE, Sartre’s criticism of the Kant has not yet been adequately analyzed and well understood. This paper will focus on crucial elements in Sartre’s rejection of Kant’s transcendental idealism.