In this article I wish to discuss the problem of self-knowledge in Sartre’s early philosophy with regard to its consequences within the field of ethics. I shall not try to cover all aspects of self-knowledge in Being and Nothingness since all of the major doctrines expounded in that work concerning consciousness, identity, freedom and knowledge have implications for self-knowledge. I would be content if I could draw attention to aspects of Sartre’s thought which are interestingly different from other moral philosophies as well as from certain empirical conclusions it would seem natural to draw from Sartre’s own ontology in the sphere of moral psychology.
Ian Birchall, Steven Hendley, and Phyllis Morris
Noureddine Lamouchi, Jean-Paul Sartre et le tiers monde, Paris: L’Harmattan, 1996, 346 pp. ISBN 2-7384-4179-3, Ffrs.180.50 Review by Ian Birchall
Thomas R. Flynn, Sartre, Foucault, and Reason in History, Volume 1: Toward an Existentialist Theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997, 340 pp., ISBN 0-226-25468-2, $18.95 (paper). Review by Steven Hendley
William L. McBride, ed., Sartre and Existentialism: Philosophy, Politics, Ethics, The Psyche, Literature, and Aesthetics, Garland Publishing. 8-volume set $583/or by volume. Toll-free (U.S.) 800-627-6273 Review by Phyllis Morris
The first issue of volume four of Sartre Studies International exemplifies the full range of Sartre’s intellectual output: literary, philosophical and political. Three articles by Colin Davis, Edward Greenwood and Paul Reed are centred on the multiple interactions in Sartre’s work between philosophy and literature. In a penetrating analysis of Sartre’s Le Mur, Colin Davis explores the complex relationship between ethics and fiction, between Moral Law and jouissance. ‘The lie of Sartre’s narrator in “Le Mur”’, contends Davis, ‘represents a way of sharing the pain of his/her powerlessness and mortality’, and is coincidental with ‘an assault through fiction on the reader whose power to judge and comprehend is wrested away’.
In The Imaginary, Sartre provides the foundation upon which the development of his theory of bad faith is built, pointing to a fundamental choice at the level of image consciousness between the unreflective projection of the image and the impure reflection upon that image constitutive of imaginative comprehension, or what he refers to in this text as pure comprehension. Pure comprehension can be seen as Sartre's early formulation of pure reflection in which thought is characterised by movement rather than the reification of thought indicative of impure reflection and imaginative comprehension. This will prove to have consequences for the interpretation of Sartre's conceptualizations of desire and bad faith and consequently for Sartrean ontology, psychoanalysis and ethics.
Matthew C. Ally
This essay revisits the question of Sartre's method with particular emphasis on the posthumously published Notebooks for an Ethics, Critique of Dialectical Reason (Volume II), and “Morale et histoire.” I argue that Sartre's method—an ever-evolving though never seamless blend of phenomenological description, dialectical analysis, and logical inference—is at once the seed and fruit of his mature ontology of praxis. Free organic praxis, what Sartre more than once calls “the human act,” is neither closed nor integral, but is rather intrinsically open-ended and integrative. Thus a philosophical method that seeks at once to illuminate human experience and human history must itself be both a reflection and inflection of the essential openness and integrativity of praxis itself. In the conclusion, I argue that the openness and integrativity of Sartre's method are its core strengths and the sources of its continued philosophical worth.
The Lenoir-Durkheim Lecture Notes on L'enseignement de la morale
William Watts Miller
These are lectures on morality, attributed to Durkheim by Raymond Lenoir and given to Steven Lukes, who reproduced them in his doctoral thesis on Durkheim. They are published, here, together and in full for the first time. The first group of lectures covers the family, as well as general issues in morality and moral education. The second group of lectures, on civic ethics, covers citizenship, democracy, the state, occupational groups, law, and the idea of la patrie. The lectures conclude with a familiar discussion of discipline, and a more original discussion of duties to oneself. The editorial introduction to the lectures explains the circumstances in which they came to light, and discusses issues of authenticity but also of the general role, in Durkheimian studies, of texts variously attributed to Durkheim or based on notes by his students.
Ronald E. Santoni
In the present essay I shall attempt three tasks. First, I shall try to illustrate the frequency and contexts in which Sartre associates violence with bad faith. Though focusing primarily on Notebooks for an Ethics, I shall want to show that this connection is hardly confined to that uncompleted and fragmented work. Second, and usually within the same context, I shall aim to make evident the sense or senses in which Sartre ascribes bad faith to violence. For example, what aspects or dimensions of his analysis of bad faith in Being and Nothingness apply here? Third, I want to raise a fundamental question, intended in part to be critical: If, indeed, violence instantiates bad faith, on what grounds can, or does, Sartre justify it on occasion? Given his overall and persistent criticism of bad faith, as well as his embrace of a conversion to authenticity, how can he, in good conscience, strongly endorse, even justify, violence in specified situations? Is there not an inconsistency here? Would not a justification of violence be tantamount to his justifying bad faith in certain circumstances? If so, is not Sartre in bad faith regarding the justification of violence?
Une sociologie d’État
It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.
A New Epoch of Cosmopolitanism for Larger Freedom?
Since the mid-1990s, the international norms for global development have been redefined under non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) critical e-mobilizations, powered by new media. International governmental organizations (IGOs) have been forced to make policy adjustments or concessions, resulting in new IGOs-NGOs policy regimes for consultative consensus building and for protecting people’s economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC) for enhancing social quality. This paper examines the emerging cosmopolitanism in the information age, focusing on NGOs’ advocacy networks, to understand the new media-enhanced participatory regime for global governance. It also illustrates a new form of social participation, as promoted by social quality theory, in the age of e-globalization and the information society. The paper has five parts. After outlining the globalization project threatening ESC rights, the second section examines critical engagements of NGOs and IGOs for human rights promotion. Parts three and four discuss, respectively, the struggles for ESC rights in shaping new ethics and norms for global development, and the variations of new social media mobilization. The paper ends with critical remarks on the project for larger freedom and human rights for all.
As the USA and the UK embark on a foreign adventure held by many to be not only illegal, but also deeply immoral, it is perhaps fit- ting that the current issue of SSI should have a distinctly ethical flavour to it. ‘... will freedom by taking itself for an end escape all situation?’ wondered Sartre at the end of Being and Nothingness, ‘or, on the contrary, will it remain situated? Or will it situate itself so much the more precisely and the more individually as it projects itself further in anguish as a conditioned freedom and accepts more fully its responsibility as an existant by whom the world comes into being?’ The answers to these questions, to be found ‘on the ethical plane’, were famously promised for a ‘future work’. That work never materialised, but the questions remain at the heart of all of Sartre’s ulterior work – whether it be the plays, the existential biographies, the unfinished Notebooks for an Ethics, or the equally unfinished Critique of Dialectical Reason.