“I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating”: First Edition of Sartre's Being and Nothingness; Signed by Him

  • Being and Nothingness.

Being and Nothingness.

Item Number: 73077

New York: The Philosophical Library, 1956.

First edition of Sartre’s masterpiece. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by Sartre on the front free endpaper. Fine in a very good dust jacket. Rare and desirable signed.





Considered to be French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre's masterpiece, Being and Nothingness is the most important non-fiction expression Sartrean existential philosophy. A direct response to Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, which Sartre read as a prisoner of war in 1940, the text reflects on consciousness, being, and phenomena, ultimately asserting that "existence precedes essence", or that the individual must create their own values and identity as this is not something given inherently. In his account, Sartre reflects on the conundrum in which the human exists within an overall condition of nothingness, or no thing-ness, which ultimately allows for free consciousness yet simultaneously constrains one to making continuous conscious choices. It is this condition that causes anguish and the desire to flee from and escape from it through dreams designed to lead one toward a more meaningful end (destiny, determinism, or God). Sartre suggests that the solution to escape this anguish is actually through the completion of choices, rather than the attempt to escape them 'as if living within a portrait that one actively paints oneself' or actively and seriously making choices which force order over nothingness. "There can be no doubt that this is a philosophy to be reckoned with, both for its own intrinsic power and as a profound symptom of our time" (The New York Times).