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The Poverty and Richness of the Imaginary

Sartre on (Anti-)racist Ways of Seeing

Laura McMahon

Abstract

There is an ambiguity in Jean-Paul Sartre's The Imaginary (1940). On the one hand, Sartre describes mental images as impoverished in contrast to the fullness and depth of the world of perception. On the other hand, Sartre identifies the imagination with human freedom, and in this sense the imaginary can be seen as an enrichment of the real. This paper explores this ambiguity and its import for understanding both racist and antiracist ways of relating to others. Part One explores Sartre's argument for the “essential poverty” of the image through examples of racist images. Part Two discusses the enriching power of the imaginary for cultivating more just social and political arrangements in the context of racial oppression. Part Three argues that bad faith can take the form either of fleeing from reality into the impoverished world of the imaginary, or of failing to see the imaginary possibilities implicitly enriching the real.

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Sartre

The Civil Code and the Rights of Arabs

Nathalie Nya

Abstract

This article addresses an area of French colonialism, specifically French Algeria, through the critical lens of Jean-Paul Sartre's theories on race and colonialism developed in Colonialism and Neocolonialism. I focus in particular on two key components of Sartre's critical commentary: first, the way in which French colonialism established practices that assigned full humanity only to the European colonizers; indigenous Muslim Arabs were systematically confined to the category of “sub-humans.” Second, my article examines in detail how promised reforms to colonial rule were consistently thwarted by practices mired in deception and fraud. Finally, I suggest that the application of liberal humanist principles in this colonial context was designed to create further inequality between Arabs and Europeans.

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Sartre, Bad Faith and Authentic Decolonial Interventions

Leshaba Lechaba

Abstract

This article explores the concept of bad faith as conceptualized by Sartre within the context of the existential lived experiences of those Fanon (1965) refers to as the condemned, the racialized, and the dehumanized subjects of the world. I explore the logic of authenticity as a liberatory intervention in relation to decolonial interventions and anti-racist movements such as Black Lives Matter in the USA and across the globe and recently, the #EndSars movement in Nigeria. I will therefore argue that the repudiation of the entrenched universal logic of Euro-American modernity requires one to be authentic in their praxis in order to escape bad faith.

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Sipping Whiskey in Memphis

A Conversation Between Robert Bernasconi and Jonathan Judaken on Racism and Existentialism

Robert Bernasconi and Jonathan Judaken

Robert Bernasconi (RB): Jonathan, to get us started, tell me about your background and what brought you to focus on the intersections of existentialism and racism?

Jonathan Judaken (JJ): Well, I grew up in a Jewish family in Johannesburg in Apartheid South Africa. And I think all of those very specific facets of my upbringing are important to the trajectory of my work. My work has been a process of unthinking and dismantling and coming to terms with a past, a family, a legacy that very much defines who I am. I'm attempting to understand myself within the broader frameworks within which I grew up. I left South Africa permanently when I was twelve. This was in the immediate aftermath of the Soweto Riots that were steered by the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa, under the leadership of Steve Biko, a thinker whose framework is so clearly influenced by existentialism.

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Worth the Meddle

How Community and Literary Engagement Derailed Colonial Exploitation

Danielle Cervantes Stephens

Abstract

This article presents a (post)colonial literary analysis of Ousmane Sembène's God's Bits of Wood [1960, Les bouts de bois de Dieu], vis-à-vis Jean-Paul Sartre's “hexagonal cadre” for littérature engagée outlined in “What is Literature?” and “Black Orpheus.” Sembène's novel evinces both a model of African committed writing and a nuanced (post)colonial embellishment and extension of Sartrean orthodoxy, whose requisites include: [1] genre and style; [2] audience; [3] risk; [4] situational critique; [5] ontological inquiry; and [6] existential themes. This article identifies these features in Sembène's novel in general, and in the stand-alone chapter on the character Sounkare specifically.

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Accounting for Imaginary Presence

Husserl and Sartre on the Hyle of Pure Imagination

Di Huang

Abstract

Both Husserl and Sartre speak of quasi-presence in their descriptions of the lived experience of imagination, and for both philosophers, accounting for quasi-presence means developing an account of the hyle proper to imagination. Guided by the perspective of fulfillment, Husserl's theory of imaginary quasi-presence goes through three stages. Having experimented first with a depiction-model and then a perception-model, Husserl's mature theory appeals to his innovative conception of inner consciousness. This elegant account nevertheless fails to do justice to the facticity and bodily involvement of our imaginary experience. Sartre's theory of analogon, based on his conception of imaginary quasi-presence as ‘magical’ self-affection, embodies important insights on these issues. Kinesthetic sensations and feelings are the modes in which we make use of own body to possess and be possessed by the imaginary object, thus lending it a semblance of bodily presence.

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The Art of Revolutionary Praxis

Ghosting a History without Shadows

Duane H. Davis

Abstract

Merleau-Ponty, in Humanism and Terror (1947), addresses the spectrum of problems related to revolutionary action. His essay, Eye and Mind (1960), is best known as a contribution to aesthetics. A common structure exists in these apparently disparate works. We must reject the illusion of subjective clairvoyance as a standard of revolutionary praxis; but also we must reject any idealised light of reason that illuminates all—that promises a history without shadows. The revolutionary nature of an act must be established as such through praxis. The creative praxes of the political revolutionary or the revolutionary artist are recognised ex post facto; yet each involves the creation of its own new aesthetic wherein the value of that praxis is to be understood spontaneously and all at once.

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Book Reviews

Robert Boncardo, Jean-Pierre Boulé, Nik Farrell Fox, and Daniel O'Shiel

Gaye Çankaya Eksen, Spinoza et Sartre: De la politique des singularités à l'éthique de générosité. Préface de Chantal Jacquet (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017), 293 pp., 39 €, ISBN 9782406058007 (paperback).

François Noudelmann, Un tout autre Sartre (Paris : Gallimard, 2020) 206 pp., €18 (paper) / €12.99 (e-book), ISBN 9782072887109.

The Nietzschean Mind, edited by Paul Katsafanas (Oxford: Routledge, 2018) 475 pp., $200, ISBN: 9781138851689 (hardback) and The Sartrean Mind, edited by Matthew C. Eshleman and Constance L. Mui (Oxford: Routledge, 2020) 579 pp., $200, ISBN: 9781138295698 (hardback).

Caleb Heldt, Immanence and Illusion in Sartre's Ontology of Consciousness (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) 195 pp., £64.99, ISBN 978-3-030-49552-7 (eBook)

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Editorial

John Gillespie and Katherine Morris

If Descartes’ soul was always thinking, Sartre's soul (if we may put it this way) was always not just thinking but putting those thoughts on paper. It is an indication of the enormous fertility of his thinking and writing across many decades that we continue to find food for our own thinking and writing in the whole span of his philosophical works, from his books on the imagination to his reflections on Marxism, as this issue of Sartre Studies International exemplifies. And in a year in which we seem to have rediscovered the value of dialogue with others, many of the contributions to this issue exemplify that value as well: we see here Sartre in dialogue with Husserl, with Beauvoir, with Badiou, and with Lacan.

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A Malady of the Left and an Ethics of Communism

Badiouian Diagnosis, Lacanian Cure, Sartrean Responsibility

Andrey Gordienko

Abstract

One cannot be responsible for a generic truth, argues Badiou in his critical rejoinder to Sartre; one can only be its militant. Challenging Badiou's formulation, I propose that his plea for a new stage of the communist hypothesis, which unfolds in the wake of subjective decomposition of the Left, must draw upon the Sartrean notion of collective responsibility to affirm interminable inscription of the egalitarian axiom in a novel political sequence without forcing a violent realisation of equality. Encapsulated in an enigmatic formula, ‘one and one make one,’ Sartrean ethics of the Same compel the Badiouian militant subject to heed the excluded demands of the new proletariat insofar as the latter occupies ‘a point of exile where it is possible that something, finally, might happen.’