Sartre and Realism-All-the-Way-Down

in Sartre Studies International
Author:
John Duncan

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In this article, I situate and reconstruct Sartre's rejections of subjective and objective idealism in order both to sketch his realism-all-the-way-down and to contrast it with Richard Rorty's pragmatic, anti-essentialist contextualism. The contrast with Rorty is important because his contextualism is one of the most prominent approaches within the relatively recent proliferation of antiessentialist views mobilized under the banners of pragmatism, hermeneutics, postmodernism, constructivism, etc. Although Rorty's contextualism is both compelling and comparable to Sartre's realism-all-the-way-down, I shall argue that the latter does not throw out the baby that the former throws out with the bathwater. Realism-all-the-way-down is not compelled to throw out realism along with subjective and objective idealism, whereas contextualism must throw out the whole lot. If compelling intuitions recommend realism to us, and if Rorty's rejection of realism is unconvincing, there are good reasons to prefer Sartre's realism-all-the-way-down.

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Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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