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Jean-Paul Sartre and Nicholas Berdyaev were contemporaries in the Paris of the thirties and forties. Sartre became the most famous existentialist author and was also a politically active Marxist. Berdyaev had been a Marxist and political activist but converted to Christianity and became one of the inspirations of the French personalist movement and a key exponent of religious existentialism. This study focuses on the central concern of both philosophers: the question of freedom. Sartre argued in Being and Nothingness that God is incompatible with human freedom. Berdyaev argues that God is not only compatible but necessary to freedom. This study reveals two ironies: Berdyaev's God is a more radical departure from traditional Western theism than Sartre's atheism. And Berdyaev's idea of freedom presents the more radical alternative to that tradition.
About the Author
The Author: James M. McLachlan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Western Carolina University. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and History from Brigham Young University, an M.A. in European Intellectual History from Indiana University at Bloomington and Ph.D. in Religious Studies/Philosophy of Religion from the University of Toronto. He also did graduate studies at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne. He is the author of several articles including «Shestov's Reading and Misreading of Kierkegaard.»