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Darwin at the Heart of Existentialism

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  • Christopher Bobo
    As many of you know, Sartre was called up as a reservist during World War II. Between September 1939 until the summer of 1940 when he was taken prisoner by
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2001
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      As many of you know, Sartre was called up as a reservist during World War II.  Between September 1939 until the summer of 1940 when he was taken prisoner by the Germans, Sartre served in the meteorological corp attached to an artillery division.  His military service gave him plenty of time for thinking and writing and his War Diaries presage many of his later works, including Being and Nothingness.
      In the War Diaries, Sartre wrote:
      "The discovery of the century is that species evolve...The human species, rather than being poor and static as it had been in Linnaeus's day, thus bears within itself a future still undifferentiated and unknownable, but of immense richness...humanity is adored but, it is not, it becomes.  Thereby, moreover, it constrast all the better with present societies and their political systems, which simply are."
       
      Here Sartre anticipates a philosoophy that will focus of the nothingess that we are, the importance of the future to us, and the essential role of freedom and creativity in our projects that determine our future being.  In some sense, it might be fair to say that Sartre philosophical work is simply a working out of the implications of Darwin's theory of evolution.
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