The Hell of Having to Face the Truth
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Two different interpretations of 'Huis clos' are proposed and both are presented as plausible. In the first reading the three protagonists are viewed as victims of the traditional, repressive society. Their difficulties are a result of social discrimination and stubborn adherence to stale morality of sham decency. In the second reading the three characters are viewed as selfish and inconsistent individuals who eagerly satisfy their desires and shamelessly neglect other people's needs. Now their difficulties are fully deserved as a punishment for cultivation of false ideas about their remarkable achievements, grand roles and fictitious obligations to others. Though both reading are plausible, the author argues that the second is more interesting and more characteristic of Sartre's philosophy. To sustain this claim the author offers a new, and rather unorthodox, interpretation of the concepts of 'etre-pour-autrui' and 'etre-pour-soi'. He concludes by presenting Sartre as a champion of an intellectualist ethics based on the concept of authentic life and a critical scrutiny of human motives.
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