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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: March 2014

13 - The fundamental project



Freedom: the free project and action

“Project” is a basic term in Sartre's ontology, for in its separation from in-itself being, the for-itself is at once thrown into the world and engaged in a free project. The free project, in his description, is “the impulse [élan] by which the for-itself thrusts itself toward its end” (BN1: 557; BN2: 578). Consciousness is one with freedom and thereby with engagement in free projects for “the freedom of the for-itself is always engaged; there is no question here of a freedom which could be undetermined and which would pre-exist its choice … freedom is simply the fact that this choice is unconditioned” (BN1: 479; BN2: 501).

This claim relates to particular projects aimed at this or that specific end, but embraces more profoundly the idea that all our projects “are united in the global project which we are” (BN1: 481; BN2: 503). The free project in this sense points to the notion of the fundamental project, understood as my being, what I make myself to be in choosing the person I am in what I do. Following his account of consciousness and freedom earlier in Being and Nothingness, Sartre devotes the concluding part 4 of the work to a study of action and the relations of doing (and having) to being.