Being And Nothingness
Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology (French: L'Être et le néant : Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique), sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology is a 1943 book by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Its main purpose is to assert the individual's existence as prior to the individual's essence. Sartre's overriding concern in writing Being and Nothingness was to demonstrate that free will exists.
While a prisoner of war in 1940 and 1941, Sartre read Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, an ontological investigation through the lens and method of Husserlian phenomenology (Husserl was Heidegger's teacher). Reading Being and Time initiated Sartre's own enquiry leading to the publication in 1943 of Being and Nothingness whose subtitle is 'A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology'. Sartre's essay is clearly influenced by Heidegger though Sartre was profoundly skeptical of any measure by which humanity could achieve a kind of personal state of fulfillment comparable to the hypothetical Heideggerian re-encounter with Being. In his much gloomier account in Being and Nothingness, man is a creature haunted by a vision of "completion," what Sartre calls the ens causa sui, which religions identify as God. Born into the material reality of one's body, in a material universe, one finds oneself inserted into being. Consciousness has the ability to conceptualize possibilities, and to make them appear, or to annihilate them.