Sartre & God (was Re: the mature Marx?)

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Mon Dec 25 09:35:29 MST 2000

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Sartre wrote in _Being and Nothingness_ (1942): "Man can will nothing
> unless he has first understood that he must count no one but himself;
> that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite
> responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he
> sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for
> himself on this earth."

"Infinite responsibilities": I haven't read enough of the Marxist Sartre
to know to what extent he moved away from this. By itself it seems
to be straight out of Heidegger. The "alone, abandoned" has a
double thrust. On the one hand it is a repudiation of religion; on
the other hand it is a total repudiation of the insistence on the
of social relations that is fundamental to Marx, and would fit into
_Paradise Lost_ or even _Mansfield Park_ more comfortably than
into the _Grundrisse_ or _Capital_. Both Milton and Austen see
'Man' as alone and abandoned *until* 'he' chooses freely to be
himself (Heidegger) and on the basis of that choice aligns himself
with God. And in both Austen and Milton "God" is a pretty near
equivalent to Sartre's "Infinite responsibilities."

If *this* was the "humanism" Althusser was attempting to
repudiate, he was certainly on Marx's side in doing so.


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