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Paul Gyllenhammer

Abstract

The age of the Anthropocene is arguably upon us. Heidegger’s famous discussion of technology helps us understand the attitude that put us in this crisis. Although Sartre’s work in the Critique of Dialectical Reason seems to be distinct from Heidegger’s, I show how his concern with the socially alienating phenomenon of seriality explains why this technological attitude is so persistent. And by studying Heidegger and Sartre together, we get a better sense of how our environmental destitution is correlated to a social-political one. Relational respect is offered as an existential norm that helps us move beyond our violent tendency to objectify beings, both human and other than human.

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David Schweikart

Abstract

In 1952 Albert Camus wrote a caustic letter to Les Temps Modernes in response to the journal’s negative review of The Rebel, addressed, not to the author of the review, but to “M. Le Directeur,” i.e. to Sartre. Sartre’s response published in the journal ended their friendship. This article examines the deep cause of this rupture, Camus’s political views moving rightward, Sartre’s moving left. I examine Camus’s critique of Marx and Marxism, then ask the question, “What is Marxism, Anyway?” I defend a version of Sartrean “existential Marxism” as appropriate for our time.

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Too Much of Nothing

Analytic and Sartrean Phenomenological Perspectives

John Graham Wilson

Abstract

This article draws parallels between analytical and continental approaches to ontology. It begins with a summary of nothingness from the standpoint of analytical philosophy. It then expands towards the Sartrean notion of nothingness and our own experiential intuitions of absence, extending then into what is missing in our lives as existentially distressing; concerning, in this instance, what is missing through the protracted absence of a dead loved one. Finally, disturbing and possibly traumatic encounters with absence are seen to have major consequences for our existential sense of being-in-the-world, where the for-itself manifests as a being of lacks, often eschewing thetic knowledge, where encounters through human consciousness may anticipate pathological withdrawal from the world. This is a situation that Anglo-American proponents of logico-linguistic analysis cannot adequately account for.

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Clare Mac Cumhaill

Abstract

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.

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John H. Gillespie, Marcos Norris, and Nik Farrell Fox

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Challenging the Absurd?

Sartre’s Article on Kafka and the Fantastic

Jo Bogaerts

Abstract

In 1943, Jean-Paul Sartre published several important articles of literary criticism on Blanchot, Camus and Bataille. In addition to propounding his own literary views, these articles functioned as a means of marking out his own version of existentialism, which risked being conflated with the Camusian absurd. Whereas Camus, according to Sartre, advocated a detached attitude in the face of the meaninglessness of existence, Sartre maintained that the subject cannot withdraw from the (historical) situation and that existence is ultimately meaningful. One author in particular, Franz Kafka, acts as the figurative ‘prism’ through which Sartre challenges rival versions of existential thinking. He does so by introducing the concept of le fantastique (the fantastic) on account of Kafka’s work. In so doing, Sartre not only rebutted the dominant interpretation, according to which Kafka was an absurd author, but also uncovered a historical critique implicit in the Prague author’s work.

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De Beauvoir, Existentialism and Marx

A Dialectic on Freedom

Angela Shepherd

Abstract

In this article, I focus on de Beauvoir’s view and argue that, alongside an original account of existential freedom, she utilises a Marxist-inspired historical materialism as a methodological tool with which to analyse the social position of women. First, I discuss existential freedom and highlight de Beauvoir’s introduction of gender, whereby the concepts of material, social and situational conditions cohere to restrict the possibility of freedom and agency for women. Next, I explore Marx’s view on freedom and de Beauvoir’s endorsement that in order to promote human flourishing, structural and material change is required. Although some tensions prevail, I conclude that by weaving together existentialism, phenomenology and Marxism in her unique way, Simone de Beauvoir offers a complex and nuanced approach to human freedom.

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Editorial

Thinking with Sartre

Edited by John H. Gillespie and Sarah Richmond

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From In-Itself to Practico-Inert

Freedom, Subjectivity and Progress

Kimberly S. Engels

Abstract

This article focuses on Sartre’s concept of the practico-inert in his major work A Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 1 (CDR). I first show the progression from Sartre’s previous conception of in-itself to his concept of practico-inert. I identify five different layers of the practico-inert: human-made objects, language, ideas, social objects and class being. I show how these practico-inert layers form the possibilities for our subjectivity and how this represents a change from Sartre’s view of in-itself in Being and Nothingness. I then explore the relationship of freedom to the practico-inert and how Sartre argues that the practico-inert places limits on our freedom. Lastly, I argue that despite the pessimistic picture Sartre paints in CDR, the practico-inert has the potential to both limit and enhance our freedom. I appeal to Sartre’s post-CDR essay ‘A Plea for Intellectuals’ to argue that a Sartrean account of progress requires the utilisation of the practico-inert.

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Adrian Van Den Hoven

Résumé

Les cinq conférences de La Lyre havraise (novembre 1932–mars 1933) constituent une tentative d’élucidation des techniques du roman moderne. Pour cela, Sartre se base sur les distinctions entre le roman et le récit introduites par Alain et Fernandez. Ces conférences traitent des Faux-Monnayeurs d’André Gide, de Contrepoint d’Aldous Huxley, du monologue intérieur d’Ulysse de James Joyce, des Vagues, de Mrs. Dalloway et d’Orlando de Virginia Woolf, des Hommes de bonne volonté de Jules Romains et du 42ième Parallèle de John Dos Passos. Ces analyses préfigurent les techniques employées par Jean-Paul Sartre dans ses œuvres romanesques qu’il publiera plus tard dans sa carrière littéraire.