Volume 31, 2006
Sartre’s View of Kierkegaard as Transhistorical Man
This paper illuminates the central arguments in Sartre’s UNESCO address, “The Singular Universal.” The address begins by asking whether objective facts tell us everything there is to know about Kierkegaard. Sartre’s answer is negative. The question then arises as to whether we can lay hold of Kierkegaard’s “irreducible subjectivity” by seeing him as alive for us today, i.e., as transhistorical. Sartre’s answer here is affirmative. However, a close inspection of this answer exposes a deeper level to the address. The struggle to find a place for Kierkegaard within the world of objective knowledge is an allegory. It mirrors Sartre’s struggle to find a place for his existentialism within the Marxism that dominates his later thinking.