Sartre’s ‘Being Looked at’ and Consciousness in the Jewish Ghetto, Vilnius

  • Leonard Stone Vilnius University
Keywords: Sartre, existentialism, consciousness, Jewish Holocaust, Vilnius-Ghetto


This article explores the relationship between consciousness and the historical urban space of the former Jewish Ghetto in Vilnius, Lithuania. This relationship is investigated primarily within the existentialist school of philosophy and takes its point of departure from Sartre’s ‘gaze’ or ‘look’ from his philosophical work, Being and Nothingness. Within this existentialist schematic the ‘look’ is methodologically sub-divided into i) ‘being looked at’ and ii) the ‘look looked at’. This paper further discerns the nuances of consciousness within the field of phenomenology in terms of upsurges and decompressions when ‘being looked at’ in the Ghetto. That is, when walking its streets and ‘being seen’ by, and through the Ghetto’s windows. Subject is primarily understood as subdivided into Self, ‘I’ and ‘me’, thus rendering it as carrying a non-stable first-person perspective.

Ontology and Phenomenology