Existentialism Is a Humanism

by

Jean-Paul Sartre

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In Sartre’s usage, “despair” (désespoir or literally dis-hope in French) does not carry the connotations of darkness and resignation that it generally carries. Rather, Sartre literally means that people should not hope for miracles they cannot reasonably predict: “I must confine myself to what I can see.” He views the universe as probabilistic and, therefore, he considers human predictive ability to be inherently limited, but he suggests that hope is actually detrimental to action rather than action-enabling because it leads people to wait for invisible others to act in their place.

Despair Quotes in Existentialism Is a Humanism

The Existentialism Is a Humanism quotes below are all either spoken by Despair or refer to Despair. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Existence, Essence and the Human Condition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Yale University Press edition of Existentialism Is a Humanism published in 2007.
Existentialism Is a Humanism Quotes

The truth is that of all doctrines, this is the least scandalous and the most austere: it is strictly intended for specialists and philosophers.

Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Despair Term Timeline in Existentialism Is a Humanism

The timeline below shows where the term Despair appears in Existentialism Is a Humanism. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Existentialism Is a Humanism
Existence, Essence and the Human Condition Theme Icon
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...condition of subjectivity. Sartre says that he will next clarify three concepts: anguish, abandonment, and despair. (full context)
Abandonment and Atheism Theme Icon
Existentialism and Its Critics Theme Icon
Sartre explains “despair” as the fact that people, upon looking realistically at the probabilistic conditions surrounding their ability... (full context)
Existence, Essence and the Human Condition Theme Icon
Abandonment and Atheism Theme Icon
Radical Freedom, Choice, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Existentialism and Its Critics Theme Icon
...reasserting that “existentialism is optimistic” and his critics act in bad faith, “confusing their own despair with ours.” (full context)