An Investigation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Posthumously Published Notebooks for an Ethics

Author: Linsenbard, Gail
This study explores Sartre’s reflections on morality in his posthumously published Cahiers Pour Une Morale. In particular it describes and elucidates the key concepts and ideas that might suggest Sartre’s conception of ‘une morale’ in 1947-48. In Notebooks, Sartre offers an analysis, missing in Being and Nothingness, of how one may reflectively overcome bad faith and live one’s life authentically. This book contributes to the general scholarship on Sartre.


“The word ‘Investigation’ in the title of Gail Linsenbard’s book is most apt. this is more than a description of an important yet comparatively unexamined work by Jean-Paul Sartre. Linsenbard sets out to appraise and to clarify, and in doing so she has made an important contribution to Sartrean scholarship. . . . Linsenbard shows how, in the Notebooks, Sartre’s starting point is to ask what does it mean to be a human being. . . .gives Sartre’s ethics a teleological orientation. . . . What makes this a formidable work is that her investigation reveals how Sartre develops this orientation from his responses to the question that constitutes his starting point. My view is that she does so with greater clarity than Sartre himself. Linsenbard’s book is a necessary addition to the bookshelves of every Sartre scholar.” – Mike Cross in Analytic Teaching: The Community of Inquiry Journal

“Gail Linsenbard’s approach to this vexed issue is in effect to delve further, as it were, into the question of just what is this issue of ‘an ethics’. This is a sufficiently different approach, to make her book, in my judgment, an especially interesting contribution. . . . . Another helpful aspect of Linsenbard’s inquiry is that she gives more attention than usual to The Transcendence of The Ego, the very early monograph that insists on the public worldly status of the ego, as over against the traditional notion of a private ego ruling over a domain of subjectivity. . . whatever view one might wish to argue concerning the vexed topic of a properly Sartrean ‘ethics’, she has succeeded in setting out an important cautionary tale well worth heeding.” – Forrest Williams

“Professor Linsenbard’s treatment of these questions is shrewd, cautious, analytical and discerning. And her study will be important to anyone seeking a solid understanding of Sartre’s real meaning.” – Michael Shenefelt

“Because of the lack of unity and cohesion of the Notebooks, the task of Linsenbard was particularly difficult, but in our opinion she overcame brilliantly these difficulties by pointing clearly and with solid demonstrations that, even if Sartre provides incomplete answers, he was all his life truly concerned with human ethical issues. . . .Gail Linsenbard investigates every issue, every idea with remarkable thoroughness and she accepts and rejects views only after thorough investigation, debate and comparison with other philosophers. The argumentation of Linsenbard is perfectly dispassionate, fair and without bias. There is no doubt that this book is a most significant contribution to Sartre’s philosophical scholarship. The analysis is clear, competent, intelligently argued and very well organized.” – Guy Mermier

Table of Contents

Table of Contents, chapter headings:
Foreword; Preface; Introduction
1. What Sartre’s Ethics is Not
2. Does Sartre’s Ontology Have Ethical Implications?
3. Sartre’s Criticisms of Kant’s Moral Theology
4. An Analysis of Some Key Ideas in Notebooks
5. Authentic Existence and Others
6. Conclusion