When Sartre arrives late to meet Pierre at a local establishment, he discovers not merely that Pierre is absent, but also Pierre’s absence, where this depends, or so Sartre notoriously supposes, on a frustrated expectation that Pierre would be seen at that place. Many philosophers have railed against this view, taking it to entail a treatment of the ontology of absence that Richard Gale describes as ‘attitudinal’ – one whereby absences are thought to ontologically depend on psychological attitudes. In this article, I aim to make Sartre’s intuition respectable. What Sartre perceives is an ‘absential location’, only the ‘boundaries’ of which are circumscribed by what Sartre is doing at that place: meeting Pierre. I explain how this Sartrean view, though not specifically attributable to Sartre, nonetheless honours some of the phenomenological data described, if a little opaquely, in Being and Nothingness.
Clare Mac Cumhaill is Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University. Her research interests are in perception, action, emotion and aesthetics, with a special focus on space, spatial properties and formal explanation more generally. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org