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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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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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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.’

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Mary Edwards

Abstract

This paper aims to show that Sartre's later work represents a valuable resource for feminist scholarship that remains relatively untapped. It analyses Sartre's discussions of women's attitude towards their situation from the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, alongside Beauvoir's account of women's situation in The Second Sex, to trace the development of Sartre's thought on the structure of gendered experience. It argues that Sartre transitions from reducing psychological oppression to self-deception in Being and Nothingness to construing women as ‘survivors’ of it in The Family Idiot. Then, it underlines the potential for Sartre's mature existentialism to contribute to current debates in feminist philosophy by illuminating the role of the imagination in women's psychological oppression.

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Daniel O'Shiel

Abstract

I argue for three different concepts of God in Being and Nothingness. First I review the relevant scholarship with regard to Sartre, religion, and God. Second I show how Sartre uses three Gods in his ontological system: God as Nature, God as radical Otherness, and God as absolute Value. Third I show that Sartre's conception of the imaginary explains how a purer, more theoretical conception of God can be perverted into more anthropocentrised and anthropomorphised versions. Fourth I consider the consequences of sticking to more Sartrean notions which ultimately can emphasise humility, respect, and responsibility before Nature, the Other, and Value, thereby calling for a reduction of both anthropomorphism and -centrism in religious faith and our conceptions of God.

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Being-for-itself and the Ontological Structure

Can Being-for-itself Avoid Bad Faith?

Ronald E. Santoni

Abstract

In this paper, I pay tribute to Jonathan Webber, one of the most dependable interpreters among recent Sartre scholars. I do so by challenging both him and Sartre on an issue that has long frustrated my work on Sartre. In short, Sartre contends that the For-itself's desire to be (and to pursue) Being-in-itself-for-itself (i.e., God) is in bad faith. This raises two issues: (1) Is this desire to be ens causa sui part of the ontological structure of the For-itself? (2) If so, is bad faith an essential part of the human being? I contend that the desire to be the In-itself-for-itself is, on Sartre's premises, part of the ontological structure of an existing human being (pour-soi). As our original flight from freedom and “fundamental project,” this constitutes bad faith's “coming into the world,” and remains part of Being-for-itself's “natural” disposition to bad faith.

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Sarah Horton and Adrian van den Hoven

Daniel O'Shiel, Sartre and Magic: Being, Emotion, and Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 198 pp., $79.80, ISBN: 978-1-3500-7766-9 (hardback).

Brill's Companion to Camus: Camus among the Philosophers. Eds. Matthew Sharpe, Maciej Kałuża, and Peter Francev. (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2020), 488 pp., $180, ISBN: 9789004401747 (hardback)

Yan Hamel, En Randonnée avec Simone de Beauvoir. Boréal, Montréal, Canada, 2020. Can $25,95.

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John Ireland and Constance Mui

The fortieth anniversary of Sartre's death, on April 15 of this year, found much of the world in lockdown in response to a new virus, Covid-19, which has changed humanity's situation on this planet in ways we will be struggling to elucidate for years to come. In these unprecedented circumstances, Sartre's thought has been an obvious resource to help us understand the impact and ramifications of this pandemic. The virus has been an unsparing indicator in itself of social injustice, unmasking the pious platitudes of our advanced, modern democracies. In the United States in particular, the reality is truly ugly. Covid-19 has shed pitiless light on the disparity between affluent white communities, able to “shelter in place” and avoid putting their members at risk of infection, and less affluent black and brown districts, where workers on subsistence salaries, often without health-care benefits, have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, with terrible consequences for them and their families. Living in the “richest” country on earth, we can imagine only too easily Sartre's vitriolic assessment of America in its present crisis. And it is just as easy to imagine the fervor with which he would have embraced the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted all over the world, provoked by the 8 minute 46 second video clip that showed the matter-of-fact murder by asphyxiation of George Floyd by white police officers in Minneapolis.