Kate Kirkpatrick at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:
Kate Kirkpatrick’s provocative interdisciplinary study argues that Sartre’s conception of nothingness in Being and Nothingness (BN) can be fruitfully understood as an iteration of the Christian doctrine of original sin, “nothingness” being synonymous with sin and evil in the Augustinian tradition. Hence, Sartre in BN presents us with “a phenomenology of sin from a graceless position” (10). For readers used to understanding Sartre through the lens of German phenomenology, this will come as a surprise. However, the book should be welcomed by all readers as it breathes life into the field of Sartre studies, offering a fresh perspective from which to judge the magnum opus of French existentialism.
Kirkpatrick is not the first to address Sartre’s relation to theology or to note similarities between Sartre’s ideas in BN and the doctrine of original sin. Her forerunners include Merold Westphal’s Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism (1998), Stephen Mulhall’s Philosophical Myths of the Fall (2005), and several articles by John Gillespie published in Sartre Studies International. She is, however, the first to pursue the topic in depth. Kirkpatrick’s earlier book, Sartre and Theology (2017), which examines Sartre’s engagement with theology more broadly, could be a useful background resource for readers of this one.