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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.

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Sarah Horton

Abstract

Drawing on Sartre’s account of violence, I argue that not only is bad faith inevitable in practice, but a limited bad faith is necessary for authenticity. Although violating the freedom of others is bad faith, it is impossible to never violate anyone’s freedom. Moreover, and more fundamentally, the ontological structure of the for-itself entails that the for-itself can only be authentic in the mode of not being authentic. Seeking to altogether avoid bad faith is bad faith, for it is an attempt to constitute oneself as essentially authentic, yet the for-itself has no preexisting essence. By recognizing one’s complete responsibility for choosing bad faith, however, one limits one’s bad faith. This limited bad faith is in fact necessary to authenticity, which is a project lived out in concrete situations and not a categorical moral law that forbids bad faith.

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Jorge Lizarzaburu, Adrian van den Hoven, and Donovan Irven

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Disharmonious Continuity

Critiquing Presence with Sartre and Derrida

Gavin Rae

Abstract

The traditional interpretation of the Sartre-Derrida relationship follows their own insistence that they are separated by a certain irreducible distance. Contemporary research has, however, questioned that assessment, mainly by reassessing the thought of Sartre to picture him as a precursor to poststructuralism/deconstruction. This article takes off from this stance to suggest that Sartre and Derrida are partners against a common enemy—ontological presence—but develop different paths to overcome it: Sartre affirming nothingness and Derrida affirming différance. While much work has been done on these concepts, they have rarely been used as the exclusive means through which to engage with the Sartre-Derrida relationship. Focusing on them reveals that while Sartrean nothingness and Derridean différance are oriented against ontological presence, the latter entails a radicalization of the former. Their relationship is not then one of opposition but rather one of disharmonious continuity.

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David Detmer and John Ireland

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“One Is Not Born a Dramatist”

The Genesis of Sartre’s Theatrical Career in Writings to, with, and by Beauvoir

Dennis A. Gilbert

Abstract

This article looks to delineate Jean-Paul Sartre’s entry into the field of drama and the genesis of his prominent theatrical career. While Sartre spoke and wrote a great deal on this subject in interviews with theater critics and articles on theater, the most revealing sources of this information can be found in writings to, with, and by Simone de Beauvoir. This article therefore examines the exchange of letters between Sartre and Beauvoir, her wartime diary, an article and a recording by her from the 1940s, her autobiography, and the lengthy conversations between the two from 1974. The result will shed significant light on the evolution of Sartre’s interest in theater from his childhood, to his adolescence, and during the decade that preceded the creation of his first extant play, Bariona, in 1940.

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Hiroaki Seki

Résumé

Cet article examine les références discrètes mais persistantes et variées à Cassandre, princesse troyenne et prophétesse malheureuse, chez Sartre, depuis les œuvres de jeunesse jusqu’aux textes tardifs et sa dernière pièce, Les Troyennes. Dans les écrits de jeunesse des années 1920, la figure de Cassandre est associée à la littérature romantique et post-romantique et à la métaphore du voile dans la recherche de la vérité. Dans la décennie suivante, elle réapparaîtra dans La Nausée, cette fois liée aux nouvelles préoccupations phénoménologiques de Sartre. Enfin dans les écrits des dernières années, elle souligne l’inquiétude liée à l’expression et à la communication des vérités plus politiques de l’écrivain engagé. Suivre l’évolution de cette figure multidimensionnelle dans la pensée de Sartre, c’est mieux apprécier le rôle subtil du pessimisme dans son œuvre et la fascination discrète que lui inspire Cassandre.

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Sartre in Austria

Boycott, Scandals, and the Fight for Peace

Juliane Werner

Abstract

While the World Congress of People for Peace 1952 in Vienna is generally viewed as Soviet propaganda, Jean-Paul Sartre counted it among the most important experiences of his life. His participation marks a major turning point in his evolution, insofar as it publicly confirms his status as a fellow traveler of the Communist Party. In the weeks leading up to the Congress, which was met by an extensive press boycott, Sartre had already caused a stir in the Viennese media by calling off the premiere of Les Mains sales, one of several theater scandals connected to this controversial and allegedly anti-Communist play. By examining the news coverage of these events, this article reveals the impact of Sartre’s interventions and shows how they changed the reception of existentialism in Austria.

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Sartrean Self-Consciousness and the Principle of Identity

Sartre’s Implicit Argument for the Non-Self-Identity of the Subject

Maiya Jordan

Abstract

I address the problem of what grounds Sartre’s paradoxical claim that consciousness is non-self-identical, and his equally paradoxical gloss on that claim—that the nature of consciousness is to be what it is not and not to be what it is. I argue that there is an implicit argument in Being and Nothingness, which both entails and elucidates Sartre’s claim that consciousness is non-self-identical, and which also maps on to, and clarifies, the explicit argument that Sartre provides for this conclusion. This implicit argument presupposes that we attribute to Sartre a distinctive theory of pre-reflective self-consciousness—what I call the non-iterative theory. I argue that we should attribute the non-iterative theory to Sartre.