Sartre’s Godless Theology: Dualist Monism and Its Temporal Dimensions

Open Theology 5 (1):182-197 (2019)
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My task in this paper is to study Sartre’s ontology as a godless theology. The urgency of defending freedom and responsibility in the face of determinism called for an overarching first principle, a role that God used to play. I first show why such a principle is important and how Sartre filled the void that God had left with a solipsist consciousness. Then I characterize Sartre’s ontology of this consciousness as a “dualist monism”, explaining how it supports his radical conception of freedom. Then, by assessing Sartre’s dualist monism through a theological lens, I disclose an inconsistency in his thought concerning the idea that the in-itself is a deterministic plenitude, which presumes a theos different from consciousness and hence threatens monism. Finally I argue that his inconsistency originates from the finitude of Sartre’s first principle and analyze this finitude by examining the modes of temporality it implies. The entire trajectory problematizes the practice of theo-logy, the idea that a theos stands at the origin of the “logic” (organization or intelligibility) of everything such that all must be conceived under the logos of the theos. While Sartre forcefully criticized the theology of the infinite, his was nonetheless a theology of finitude.
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