Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Rethinking Existentialism: From radical freedom to project sedimentation

Webber, Jonathan ORCID: 2023. Rethinking Existentialism: From radical freedom to project sedimentation. Saunders, Joe, ed. Freedom After Kant: From German Idealism to Ethics and the Self, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 191-204.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of FromRadicalFreedomToProjectSedimentation.pdf] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 18 November 2023 due to copyright restrictions.

Download (256kB) | Request a copy


In the mid-1940s, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre both argued that a person’s preferences and behaviour are ultimately explained by their projects, which they have chosen and can reject. However, they did not agree on the details. Sartre’s theory of ‘radical freedom’ was that projects have no inertia of their own and persist only if they continue to be endorsed. Beauvoir held that projects become gradually sedimented with continued endorsement, increasing in both influence and inertia over time. Sartre’s theory resulted from his basic ontology of being and nothingness, itself arrived at through his method of transcendental phenomenology. Beauvoir’s theory was grounded directly in the phenomenology of lived experience, particularly as articulated in her fictional writings. By the end of the 1940s, Sartre had replaced his original idea of freedom with Beauvoir’s theory of project sedimentation. He was right to do so. Project sedimentation explains what commitment to a project is and how there can be cultural values, neither of which can be explained within the theory of radical freedom. However, the theory of project sedimentation had not been available to Sartre until he revised his philosophical method in response to an anthology of negritude poetry.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sartre, Beauvoir, autonomy, character, gender, literature, reasons, values
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781350187757
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 May 2023
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 08:58

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics