One Answer

  1. The answer lies in which of the characters in the novel quotes Pascal. Self-taught-a self-styled socialist, deprived of reflection, confidently standing on humanistic positions, mastering “all human knowledge” independently in alphabetical order (in the final novel, it turns out that behind his love for all mankind lies a love for lyceum boys, but this plot has more to do with Freud than with Pascal).

    Pascal for Sartre is a singer of bureaucratic humanism. “A radical humanist,” he writes in Toshnota, ” is first and foremost a friend of officials. The main concern of the so-called “left ” humanist is to preserve human values; he does not belong to any party, because he does not want to betray the universal, but his sympathies are given to the underprivileged; he devotes his brilliant classical culture to serving the underprivileged. As a rule, this is a widower with beautiful eyes, always moistened with a tear – on all anniversaries he cries. He loves cats, dogs, all the higher mammals.” It is Pascal's rationalism that makes possible Sartre's hateful “love of humanity”; the rationalist obligingly offers the humanist the image of “man in general”, “man as such”, “man without properties”, absolutely elastic humanity in a vacuum flask.

    For Sartre, such rationalistic humanism is the bane of the bureaucratic class. The very class to which Sartre himself belongs and from which he is trying with all his might to distance himself. In a letter to a friend, he directly connects Pascal's philosophy, humanist rhetoric, and official worldview: “…I come from an official circle … I am the great – great-grandson of peasants, the grandson of officials, an official myself …I was brought up in the spirit of impersonal rationalism, which instilled in me a taste for impersonality in the field of ideas. It is precisely because some idea of Pascal's, once I grasp it, seems to me to belong to Pascal, to myself, or to my neighbor, or, more precisely, to me to be the property of the human community, that I do not want to have in my library an expensive edition of his works. ” (

    If Pascal is a philosopher for officials, then Sartre himself is a philosopher of officials. Whether in literature or philosophy, he has to squeeze Pascal out of himself bit by bit with his rationalism, humanism and impersonality. However, just here Sartre suffers a complete fiasco.

    To begin with, half of the philosophical problems that bothered him were posed by Pascal ( Sartre sometimes quotes it almost verbatim, without referring to it. Further. Eight years after the publication of Nausea, Sartre will return to the topic of humanism and declare that his philosophy is true humanism: “I was told:” After all, you wrote in Nausea that the humanists are wrong, you laughed at a certain type of humanism, why go back to it now?”Indeed, the word 'humanism' has two completely different meanings. Humanism can be understood as a theory that considers a person as a goal and the highest value… The cult of humanity leads to Comte's closed humanism and – it should be said-fascism. We don't need such humanism. But humanism can also be understood in another sense. Man is constantly outside of himself. It is by projecting himself and losing himself outwardly that he exists as a human being. ” (

    Here again is the internal struggle between Sartre and Pascal. To define a person through his ability to transcend, transcend and redefine himself is precisely Pascal's invention. True, Pascal solved this problem rationally-a person goes beyond his limits, reflecting, realizing his own insignificance – and Sartre in the spirit of radical actionism: in order to redefine himself, a person must “lose himself outside”, “achieve transcendent goals”. But here, too, we see the same Sartre version of the Oedipus Complex: kill Pascal, master humanism.

    However, it seems that this story also has more to do with Freud than with Sartre.

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