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Sartre, Lacan, and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis

A Defense of Lacanian Responsibility

Blake Scott

Abstract

In this article, I reconsider the philosophical significance of Jacques Lacan’s reading of Freud in light of Jean-Paul Sartre’s early critique of Freudian psychoanalysis. Since direct comparisons between the work of Sartre and Lacan are sparse in the English literature, Betty Cannon’s comprehensive treatment proves to be an invaluable resource in opening up this line of inquiry. I claim that one reason for the limited attention given to comparisons of their work is the continued strength of the polemics between humanism and structuralism. Lacan’s structuralism is regularly indicted by humanists for failing to provide a conception of subjective responsibility in the way that Sartre’s humanism does. Taking Cannon’s ­critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis on this issue as a point of departure, I argue that a conception of subjective responsibility can be found throughout Lacan’s work, serving as a point of common ground upon which further inquiry—particularly of Sartre’s later work—might begin.

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Noel N. Sauer

Abstract

Sartre’s theory of mental imagery is often criticized for succumbing to the very “illusion of immanence” that he decries in both The Imagination and The Imaginary. I challenge Edward S. Casey’s defense of this criticism in light of Cam Clayton’s recent effort to do the same. Clayton tries to meet Casey’s arguments by focusing on what he, Clayton, believes to be Sartre’s development of the role and ontological status of the “psychical analogon” in his theory of mental imagery. I argue against Clayton’s account of the psychical analogon, showing how both he and Casey miss what for Sartre is its essential role and positive status as bodily movement. Thus Sartre adequately provides for the materiality, or positivity, of the psychical analogon, and a closer look at Sartre’s arguments about bodily movement and mental imagery—not Clayton’s interpretation—meets Casey’s objections and dispels Sartre’s theory of the alleged illusion.

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What Would I Do with Lacan Today?

Thoughts on Sartre, Lacan, and Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Betty Cannon

Abstract

This article is a reply to Blake Scott’s discussion of the Sartrean critique of Lacan that I present in three chapters of Sartre and Psychoanalysis. Here I revisit those chapters, written 25 years ago, with questions about how I might approach Lacan today. I also discuss how I might approach recent developments in psychoanalysis, some of which are influenced by both Lacan and postmodernism. While I still think Lacan does not give an adequate account of agency and responsibility, there are definitely parallels between Sartre and Lacan and even a significant, though ambiguous, debt that Lacan owes to Sartre, similar to the often-neglected influence of Sartre on postmodern philosophy. The rest of the article considers the influence of postmodernism and existential phenomenology on contemporary psychoanalysis. Despite certain theoretical difficulties, the relational and intersubjective emphasis in much of contemporary psychoanalysis, combined with a rejection of drive theory, is in some ways surprisingly compatible with Sartre’s requirements for an existential psychoanalysis.

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Chiara Collamati

Translator : Marieke Mueller and Kate Kirkpatrick

Abstract

Through an analysis of the category of alienation in the Critique of Dialectical Reason, this article aims to shed light on the way in which Sartre attempts to think through alienation both with Marx and going beyond Marx. Sartre does not reduce alienation either to an ontological dimension of praxis or to the exclusively socio-economic determination of the capitalist mode of production. In order to grasp better the theoretical stakes of Sartre’s position, André Gorz’s analyses of the link between labour and alienation is discussed. The path via Gorz (who always insisted on his philosophical indebtedness to Sartre) is useful in order to ascertain whether it is justified to adopt the Sartrean dialectic of praxis and alienation as the basis of a critique of labour in the present configuration of the capitalist system. These questions will be taken as a starting point for an ethical and political examination of the category of need, as it is problematized by Sartre in the Critique and above all in the manuscript of “Les Racines de l’éthique” (1964).

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Alexis Chabot

Translator : Ârash Aminian Tabrizi

Abstract

Atheism is at the heart of Sartre’s philosophy but also of his reflections on writing and the choice of the imaginary. Nonetheless, atheism for him is not a matter of an acquired and self-assured spiritual option. It is a struggle against the temptation of faith, a struggle which is nothing else than the aspiration to Being, to a justified existence, to the surpassing of contingency. This is why Sartre can qualify atheism as ‘cruel’. To be victorious against the illusions of necessity, against the confusion of literature and religion, atheism is a never-ending process of liquidation of the very idea of ‘Salvation’.

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Des situations-limites au dépassement de la situation

Phénoménologie d’un concept sartrien

Grégory Cormann and Jérôme Englebert

Résumé

Dans cet article, nous explorons le concept de situation, en-deçà et au-delà de sa thématisation par Sartre, à partir de L’Imaginaire, dans les Carnets de la drôle de guerre puis dans L’Être et le Néant. Notre approche se fonde sur un double mouvement : d’une part, une archéologie du concept de situation dans le contexte de la première percée de la phénoménologie en France dans les années 1930 ; d’autre part, une attention à son possible dépassement deux décennies plus tard. Dans une relation serrée avec les développements de la psychopathologie de son temps, il s’agit d’abord de situer la prétention de l’Esquisse d’une théorie des émotions à poser les bases d’une phénoménologie de « l’homme en situation », ensuite d’éclairer la reprise critique du concept dans Questions de méthode, dans l’exposition de la méthode progressive-régressive. En somme, il s’agit de montrer comment s’élabore progressivement chez Sartre une « herméneutique de l’existence » qui fait droit à la liberté, puis se donne les moyens d’en suivre l’action effective dans le monde.

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Edited by Ârash Aminian Tabrizi, Kate Kirkpatrick, and Marieke Mueller

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Le sursis

petite critique de la raison journalistique

Jean-François Louette

Résumé

Au terme d’une période, l’entre-deux-guerres, marquée par le rapprochement entre le roman et le journalisme, Sartre propose dans Le sursis à la fois une représentation de la presse durant la semaine de Munich, l’adaptation de certaines techniques du reportage, et une vive critique de la raison journalistique, pendant romanesque et moins optimiste à l’Introduction de Nizan à sa Chronique de septembre. L’incapacité du journalisme à rendre compte, exactement et de façon synchrone, du présent, ménage toute sa place au roman de l’historicité – à condition que le romancier sache se faire quelque peu sorcier et poète.

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The Punctum and the Past

Sartre and Barthes on Memory and Fascination

Patrick Eldridge

Abstract

This article extrapolates a theory of memory as an intentional consciousness from Sartre’s early, scattered references to memory. There are three key questions: How does Sartre conceive of memory’s intentional structure? Its temporal structure? And how does memory display both continuity and discontinuity in the stream of consciousness? Starting from the Sartrean insight that memory is a ‘double consciousness’ the article offers an analysis of how memory helps to constitute a temporally complex mode of being-in-the-world. Aside from memory’s usefulness in this regard, memory also has the power to disturb consciousness and disrupt its projects. Roland Barthes’s concept of the punctum – which is connected to analyses of mourning – helps to clarify this. A synoptic analysis of Sartre and Barthes allows for a phenomenological description of how consciousness can be stuck in the past, confronted by something that was, and which holds the mind captive.

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John H. Gillespie

Abstract

This article examines the main references to the Death of God in Sartre’s work (in ‘Un nouveau mystique’, Cahiers pour une morale, Le Diable et le bon Dieu, and Mallarmé : la lucidité et sa face d’ombre), and examines how his use of the term reveals his understanding of the development and progress of atheism in the modern world, contextualises his belief in the purity and correctness of his own version of atheism, and illustrates the persistence of his focus on God in his writing.