. .“hell is other people” has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations. But what I really mean is something totally different. I mean that if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because. . . when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves, . . . we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself someone else’s judgment always enters. Into whatever I feel within myself someone else’s judgment enters. . . . But that does not at all mean that one cannot have relations with other people. It simply brings out the capital importance of all other people for each one of us.

[Jean-Paul Sartre, whose pictured above, in 1965. This is in reference to his play No Exit (1944), which contains one of Sartre’s most famous, yet most misinterpreted, lines (which is spoken by a character in the play), “Hell is other people.” This quote is from here, and the author summarizes that the quote (“hell is other people”) reflects “the concept that our self-knowledge [is] a product of the way we see ourselves in the Other”.]

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