Phyllis Sutton Morris, co-founder of the Sartre Society of North America and member of its executive committee for several years, died on May 31, 1997 from complications due to cancer. Phyllis received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and her doctorate from the University of Michigan. She taught for several years at Kirkland College in New York and was, at various times in more recent years, on the faculty at LeMoyne College, Oberlin College, and the University of Michigan. She was a devoted teacher who dedicated a great deal of time and energy to preparing her classes and to meeting with students.
Translator : Ârash Aminian Tabrizi
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’.
Sartre’s account of freedom is still widely understood as a version of metaphysical libertarianism, a doctrine which asserts that the human being is completely and unconditionally free. This prevalent reading is largely due to the influence still held by Mary Warnock’s interpretation of his early texts and her privileging of the role of anguish in his thought. The true doctrine of Sartrean philosophy is, according to this position, the idea that man is absolutely and unconditionally free and that determinism is false.
‘What can one know about a man, today?’ When Sartre poses this question on the opening page of the first volume of L’Idiot de la famille, he encapsulates a huge project with teasing casualness. He brings together two of the four fundamental questions of philosophy formulated by Kant, ‘What can I know’ and ‘What is the human being’; and whilst the final word, today, indicates that our knowledge of others is bound to our own historical moment, for Sartre understanding others also necessarily entails attempting to under- stand their relation to history.
‘C’est dans la connaissance des conditions authentiques de notre vie qu’il nous faut puiser la force de vivre et des raisons d’agir’ states Simone de Beauvoir at the outset of her plea for an existentialist ethics in Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté. Surely, very few philosophers would disagree with her. A correct understanding of the ‘human condition’ has always been held indispensable to the formulation of any moral philosophy, and it seems all the more necessary in the context of an existentialist theory which, in denying the existence of a common human nature, places all the emphasis on the self-made aspect of human life.
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
Debra Jackson, David Detmer, and Kenneth L. Anderson
Jon Stewart, ed., The Debate Between Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1998, 634 pp. ISBN 0-8101-1532-8 (paper). Review by Debra Jackson
Sartre’s Radicalism and Oakeshott’s Conservatism: The Duplicity of Freedom. Anthon Review by David Detmer
Roger Frie, Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity in Modern Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: A Study of Sartre, Binswanger, Lacan, and Habermas. Lanham, MD, Boulder, New York and London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997, 227 pp., ISBN 0-8476-8415-6, $57.50 (cloth). Review by Kenneth L. Anderson
While the notion of “bad faith” remains stable in Jean-Paul Sartre’s early philosophy, the notions of “pure reflection” and “good faith” undergo significant changes. In Being and Nothingness,2 pure reflection was presented as a necessary but not sufficient condition for authenticity,3 whereas in Notebooks for an Ethics ,4 ‘pure reflection’ and ‘authenticity’ seemed to refer to the same consciousness (although with different emphasis)5 (NE, 12, 472-482, 515). In Being and Nothingness, the project of good faith was introduced as a corrupted mode of being, which, like bad faith, stands in contrast to authenticity (EN, 108-111; BN, 113-116), whereas in Notebooks for an Ethics, Sartre did not seem to distinguish good faith from authenticity (NE, 12).
Ronald E. Santoni
In “Santoni on Bad Faith and sincerity: A vindication of Sartre,” Xavier Monasterio uses the recent publication of my book, Bad Faith, Good Faith, and Authenticity in Sartre’s Early Philosophy,1 as an occasion to “reevaluate an important piece of the Sartrean heritage” and to take me to task for some of my detailed criticisms and reconstruction of core Sartrean views on bad faith and sincerity. Charging that I have “missed Sartre’s point” in places, he sets out to show how some basic criticisms in two of my chapters are unwarranted and, hence, that Sartre is in no need of the “rescuing operation,” “salvaging efforts,” or “reconstruction” that I offer in these early chapters.
Sonia R. Kruks
“I think that to watch others in their solitude grappling with what comes to them, making it into themselves, and giving it back to the world as something that was not there before is to see the very image of what each of us is. It is to experience the least common denominator of our inwardness” (xvi). These observations, drawn from the “apologia” with which Hazel Barnes begins her venture, encapsulate her vision of existentialism, as well as her views on the purposes of autobiography and literature more broadly. Her vision is, of course, indebted to the philosophy of Sartre, but is not identical to his. For Barnes gives Sartre’s existentialism back to the world with her own distinctive mark on it, as less agonistic and more concerned with human connectivity.