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Revamping Sartre's Original Project: Freedom's Narcissistic Wound

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This essay is divided into three parts. In the first, I develop a new interpretation of Sartre's notion of an original project, or original choice, by emending his initial position in Being and Nothingness, and by extrapolating from his autobiography and his psychobiographies on Baudelaire and Flaubert. In the second part, I examine the early and late Sartre's paradoxical commitment to self-analysis, and go on to draw taut the tension in the late Sartre between individual freedom and relations to others. I demonstrate that the tension in the thought of the late Sartre can be explained and resolved only with reference to Sartre's own original projects. The third part is devoted to briefly analyzing what combination of factors in Sartre's developmental history led to his original projects, in view of a possible psychobiography on Sartre. Nearly everything covered in this essay is an attempt by Sartre to appropriate Freud as an instrument in his own thought (Pontalis, 1986). In the third part, I also try to show that Freud resists Sartre's analysis, as it were, and that Sartre only proves Freud right.


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