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Symposium

Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring/Printemps 2012

Marguerite La Caze
Pages 30-51

Moss, Fungus, Cauliflower
Sartre's Critique of "Human Nature"

I argue that Sartre's understanding of needs is not inconsistent with his conception of the human condition. I will demonstrate that his use of the term "needs" signals a change of focus, not a rejection of his earlier views. Sartre's Iater "dialectical" account of human needs should he read, in light of his phenomenological account in Being and Nothingness, as aspects of our facticity and situation. Satisfying needs is compatible with a range of choices about how to satisfy those needs and what they mean for us. I contend that Sartre remains true to the phenomenological roots of his work and avoids a commitment to a human nature or essence. Finally, I will address some of the questions that arise from Sartre's focus on needs in his dialectical ethics. I will begin by examining Sartre's early account of the human condition, and then consider his focus on needs in relation to this account.

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