From Perception to Action

Sartre's Practical Phenomenology

in Sartre Studies International
Blake D. Scott PhD Student, Centre for Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Culture, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium

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This paper re-examines the well-known problem of how it is possible to have an “intuition of absences” in Sartre's example of Pierre. I argue that this problem is symptomatic of an overly theoretical interpretation of Sartre's use of intentionality. First, I review Husserl's notion of evidence within his phenomenology. Next, I introduce Sartre's Pierre example and highlight some difficulties with interpreting it as a problem of perception. By focusing on Sartre's notion of the project, I argue instead that the problem is better understood at the level of action. In support of this interpretation, I conclude with a brief comparison to the early work of Paul Ricoeur. By borrowing some of Ricoeur's phenomenological vocabulary tailored to action, I reinterpret Sartre's example as a practical problem.

Contributor Notes

Blake D. Scott is a Ph.D. student in the Centre for Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Culture at the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven. He received a B.A. Honours (2015) and M.A. (2017) in philosophy from the University of Windsor and a Research M.A. (2018) in philosophy from KU Leuven. He is currently writing a dissertation that examines the relation between philosophy and rhetoric in the 20th century. His research interests include continental philosophy, social and political philosophy, rhetoric, and argumentation theory.

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Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture


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