Though influenced by Heidegger, Sartre was profoundly sceptical of any measure by which humanity could achieve a kind of personal state of fulfilment comparable to the hypothetical Heideggerian re-encounter with Being. In Sartre’s account, man is a creature haunted by a vision of “completion”, what Sartre calls the ens causa sui, literally “sartre being and nothingness pdf being that causes itself”, which many religions and philosophers 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.
Being and Nothingness is considered Sartre’s most important philosophical work, original despite Sartre’s debts to Heidegger, and the most important non-fiction expression of Sartre’s existentialism. In Nausea, the main character’s feeling of dizziness towards his own existence is induced by things, not thinking. This dizziness occurs “in the face of one’s freedom and responsibility for giving a meaning to reality”. As an important break with Descartes, Sartre rejects the primacy of knowledge, as summed up in the phrase “Existence precedes essence”, and offers a different conception of knowledge and consciousness.
Important ideas in Being and Nothingness build on Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. To both philosophers, consciousness is intentional, meaning that there is only consciousness of something.