We are thrilled, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Sartre Studies International, to publish for the first time in English (thanks to Dennis Gilbert's initiative and perseverance) two interviews on theater given by Sartre to Russia's oldest continually running theater journal, Teatr, whose first issues date from the 1930s. Six years apart, these two interviews give us the flavor of Sartre addressing a Soviet audience, in early 1956, just before Russian tanks rolled into Hungary and then again in early 1962, as France negotiated its exit out of the disastrous Algerian War. While these interviews intersect at times with remarks made by Sartre in interviews and lectures during the same period in France (the need for theater to become a truly popular forum, the importance of Brecht as a model of politically engaged theater, etc.), the tone of the two interviews (the first in particular) is different, as Sartre seeks to connect with a socialist audience. These interviews also break new ground. Discussing contemporary playwrights, Sartre demonstrates, for example, his familiarity with Kateb Yacine and Algerian theater. More unexpectedly, addressing Russian readers, Sartre offers a much more positive assessment of Jean Vilar's Théâtre National Populaire than he ever formulated in France. In short, beyond their content, these interviews help us appreciate even more the importance of the situation shaping Sartre's pronouncements at any given moment.
John Ireland and Constance Mui
How Can Sartrean Consciousness be Reverent?
P. Sven Arvidson
According to philosopher Paul Woodruff, reverent awe is a feeling of being limited or dwarfed by something larger than the human, usually accompanied by feelings of respect for fellow human beings. Drawing from Jean-Paul Sartre's early philosophy, this article responds positively to the title question, showing how reverent awe is in bad faith yet is similar to anguish, and unique with respect to both. Especially remarkable in reverent awe is the feeling of connectedness to humankind. In section two, building on this section one framework of how Sartrean consciousness can be reverent, the article explores how being-in-itself (l'être-en-soi) can be an object of reverent awe.
The Russian Teatr Interviews of 1956 and 1962
Dennis A. Gilbert and Diana L. Burgin
Sartre's scattered commentaries and remarks on theater, published in a variety of media outlets, as well as in the most unlikely of essays (spanning philosophical texts, biographies, and literary criticism), were finally assembled late in Sartre's career and published in one volume, Un Théâtre de situations (Sartre on Theater), put together by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka in 1973. Inevitably, a number of later or missing theatrical documents then came to light, and an updated edition of Un Théâtre de situations appeared in 1992. There still remained, however, other documents on theater which for one reason or another were not included in the later volume. Two of these documents are published interviews that Sartre gave to the Russian theater journal, Teatr, in 1956 and 1962. It is those virtually unknown interviews by Sartre on theater that we are pleased to publish here for the first time in English translation.
Love and Violence
Sartre and the Ethics of Need
Beginning with a study of need and its relationship to violence in Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason, this paper argues that need, in the midst of scarcity, can both be a catalyst for violence and a force in the service of love. It warns against an antagonistic view of need and of ethics that emerges in Sartre's Critique, drawing on Sartre's own ongoing commitments to existentialism and also on the work of Primo Levi. In particular, it warns against the danger of reducing an ethics of need to one of Manichean violence. It also introduces the concept of ‘second-person needs’, which include (but are not limited to) needs of one's own for the needs of others to be met. This concept is resonant with the idea of authentic love introduced in Sartre's earlier, unfinished Notebooks for an Ethics, with the suggestions concerning a concrete, material ethics offered in Sartre's Rome Lecture of 1964, as well as with Sartre's concept of the fused group in the Critique itself.
Revisiting Existential Marxism
A Reply to Alfred Betschart
Alfred Betschart has claimed that the project of existential Marxism is a contradiction in terms, but this argument, even when supported by many experts and quotes from Sartre's 1975 interview, misses the point of my Boston Review article, “The Philosophy of Our Time.” I believe the important argument today is not about whether we can prove that Sartre ever became a full-fledged Marxist, but rather about the political and philosophical possibility, and importance today, of existentialist Marxism.
Sartre was not a Marxist
Ronald Aronson praises Jean-Paul Sartre's existential Marxism in an essay in the Boston Review. I argue that existential Marxism is a case of a contradictio in adiecto. Sartre was never recognized as a Marxist by his contemporaries. He not only failed to show any interest in the question of economic exploitation, but most of the answers he gave in the Critique even contradicted Marxist theory. His expression of Marxism as the philosophy of our time seems to have rather been more an act of courtesy than the expression of deep conviction. As Sartre himself later said, Marxism and existentialism are quite separate philosophies.
Alienation and Affectivity
Beauvoir, Sartre and Levinas on the Ageing Body
Kathleen Lennon and Anthony Wilde
In this article, we explore Beauvoir's account of what she claims is an alienated relation to our ageing bodies. This body can inhibit an active engagement with the world, which marks our humanity. Her claims rest on the binary between the body-for-itself and the body-in-itself. She shares this binary with Sartre, but a perceptive phenomenology of the affective body can also be found, which works against this binary and allows her thought to be brought into conversation with Levinas. For Levinas, the susceptibility of the body is constitutive of our subjectivity, rather than a source of alienation. If we develop Beauvoir's thought in the direction of his, an ontological structure is suggested, distinct from Sartre – a structure which makes room for her pervasive attention to affectivity.
John Gillespie, Kyle Shuttleworth, Nik Farrell Fox, and Mike Neary
Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology, trans. Sarah Richmond (London: Routledge, 2018), lxvii +848 pp., ISBN: 978-0-415-52911-2 (hardback)
Jonathan Webber, Rethinking Existentialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 256 pp., ISBN: 978-0-198-73590-8 (hardcover)
William L. Remley, Jean-Paul Sartre's Anarchist Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), vii +277 pp., ISBN 978-1-350-04824-9 (hardback)
William Rowlandson, Sartre in Cuba – Cuba in Sartre (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), vi +132 pp., ISBN 978-3-319-61695-7
Does the City of Ends Correspond to a Classless Society?
A New Idea of Democracy in Sartre's Hope Now
In the Critique of Dialectical Reason and in many interviews, Sartre upheld the proletariat's attempts at emancipation in Western societies and their revolts in the developing world. In these texts, counter-violence is considered the only way to exercise concrete engagement, and a classless society is presented as the only possibility of reducing social inequalities. However, this radical point of view was not the only perspective he tried to develop. He also sought to elaborate an existentialist ethics, which does not correspond to the Marxist theory. This article aims to show that Sartre evoked Notebooks’ ideas in his last interview, Hope Now, in which he envisaged a different typology of democracy and society. This article will examine this new and last direction of Sartre's political thought.
John Gillespie and Katherine Morris
This issue spans the entirety of Sartre's philosophical life, from his mémoire on images written at the age of twenty-two for his diploma at the Ecole normale supérieure to his thoughts about democracy as expressed in his final interview, Hope Now, at seventy-four. Fittingly enough, in between come reflections on sin and love and on the ageing body. As a result, we can get a sense of how Sartre's thinking changes and develops throughout his career and is always engaged, right to the end.