Sartre’s analysis of anti-Semitism and its relevance for today

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In the second half of 1944, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an essay entitled ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’. He analyses what might be termed the moral pathology of the anti-Semite. Such a person, Sartre suggests, has chosen to enact a passion, a passion of hatred. The motive is the desire for ‘impenetrability’ – a disavowal of reasoned argument – and a pleasure taken in the assertion and re-assertion of what is known to be false. Sartre’s essay was written hurriedly and looking back over 70 years, we can see its flaws. But I suggest that the kernel of his analysis of the anti-Semite is compelling, especially in the context of the growth of anti-immigrant prejudice in the UK and elsewhere. Using Sartre as a starting point, I discuss the nature of prejudice and suggest that to counter prejudices, a civic education is needed that emphasises a narrative of liberty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number1
Early online date20 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Sartre
  • Anti-Semite
  • Liberty
  • Prejudice
  • Immigration

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