Jean-Paul Sartre: Mystical Atheist or Mystical Anthipathist

Kate Kirkpatrick


Jean-Paul sartre is rarely discussed in the philosophy of religion. In 2009, however, Jerome Gellman broke the silence, publishing an article in this journal in which he argued that the source of sartre’s atheism was neither philosophical nor existential, but mystical. Drawing from several of sartre’s works – including Being and Nothingness, Words, and a 1943 review entitled ‘A New mystic’ – I argue that there are strong biographical and philosophical reasons to disagree with Gellman’s conclusion that sartre was a ‘mystical atheist’. moreover, I question the likelihood of drawing any definitive conclusions regarding the sources of sartre’s ambiguous atheism.

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