Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Existentialism and Society

Konstanze Baron


This research project is concerned with Jean-Paul Sartre’s effort to offer a socio-philosophical foundation for existential theory. Above all the Marxism-stamped works from the 1970s—works in which Sartre tried to open up his existential philosophy from the early 1940s to a dialectic of the social—stand at the center of the project; its intention is to outline the structural limits of these efforts, while posing the constructive question of the conditions for successful social praxis through an analysis of the grounds for these limits. In view of the theme of the Center, what will need to be clarified in particular is how the problematic integration of the individual into overarching social discursive contexts is to be conceived. Sartre’s biography L’Idiot de la famille – Gustave Flaubert de 1821 à 1857 both develops and demonstrates a discursive model endowing individuals with the possibility of articulating their idiosyncrasies within the social structure through the shaping of a style. The perspective of the artist (emblematically represented in the figure of the idiot) in this way becomes the starting point for a genuinely poetic reformulation of the wider society’s discursive praxis.