This essay will explore different views of existential philosophers in support of or repudiation to Sartre's existential account of morality. We must also bear in mind the political/theological atmosphere surrounding all of these thinkers, which propelled them to pen their thoughts for consideration by the intellectual community.
Herein lies the division between philosophy and theology; many times it seems that there is no division, simply an attempt to apply reason to religion, as it were. The very basis of philosophy is the search for Truth, and philosophers in general agree that no one owns Truth.
The origins of philosophy were based around the conduct of humanity, based upon logic, ethics and emotion, with or without a God. While the philosophers of antiquity such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle addressed these three key components of philosophy whilst having been related to each other in terms of being each other's students, they managed to accommodate their contemporary theology in their views and ideas. In addition, the same disdain of politicians existed in their works, just as modern times.
As philosophy progressed, politics of the day encroached more and more, taking on a more insistent voice in the musings of the philosophers. From Marxism to Existentialism in its truest sense, ideals of conduct were set forth with a plethora of reasons to engage in such conduct.
In contrast to Sartre's assertions of morality having no intrinsic value other than humans being the sum of their parts, we look to the work of Karl Jasper, who cuts through the unnecessary conflict of whether or not there is a God and addresses the issue of transcendence being a process of individual maturation, which may lead to the discovery of the One in the Many. Jaspers was considered to be an anti-fascist; his premise took self-realisation into account with existentialism. The freedom of this style is that it gives the mind something to work toward in this one corporeal life; the betterment of oneself and therefore the discovery of interdependence, which may or may not lead to an epiphany regarding a supreme being. That Jaspers indicates something transcendent is indicative of the possibility of a God or higher being, or even a finer level of consciousness that is able to hold its morals and ethics in the face of life's daily pressures and trends, emerging triumphant from the blindness of the masses. While not advocating the existence of God, Jasper's work encourages morality without the need to negate God completely. In Jasper's own words, 'The philosopher lives, as it were, in a hidden, non-objective community to which every philosophising person secretly longs to be admitted. Philosophy has no institutional reality and is