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.
Ronald E. Santoni
This study of Sartre's first novel seeks to move beyond the metaphysical constraints that are implicit when specifically focusing on either the work's literary or philosophical qualities, instead approaching the text as metafiction. Through an understanding of the novel's self-referentiality, its awareness of its accordance to narrative technique or reliance on existential verbatim, one gains an understanding of Sartre's fascination with the dialogue that exists between literature and philosophy. The examination of La Nausée and its Anglo-American criticism leads to a re-evaluation of the role of bad faith, in which character, author and, particularly, reader, are implicit. For reading is, like Roquentin's concluding understanding of existence, a balancing-act between the in-itself and the for-itself; an interaction with bad faith in which it is the individual/the reader that is responsible for attributing meaning to experience/La Nausée.
An encounter between Sartre and Lacan did in fact take place. What I propose to do in the following text is examine a particular moment of that historical rendezvous, in 1936. The evidence for such a rendezvous cannot be denied for a number of reasons. First of all, the philosopher and the psychoanalyst frequented the same intellectual milieu. Lacan’s interest in philosophy led him to attend Alexandre Kojève’s seminar on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit that ran from 1933 to 1939 at the École pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. In fact, he was listed as “regularly present” at the seminar from 1934 to 1937. Sartre also attended this seminar which “would adjourn to the Café d’Harcourt for further discussions.”
Readers of Sartre’s biographies often have the impression that they reveal more about Sartre than about Baudelaire, Flaubert or Genet. The reason for this is our awareness of Sartre’s philosophy which serves as an explicit paradigm for the construction and explicitation of his literary and his biographical works. We speak of a Sartrean play, a Sartrean biography, because they lay bare not only characteristic features of the genre but also of the author and this also is true of a Hegelian or Marxist history or a Freudian psychology. These writers have all invented their own paradigms and if one decides to use their paradigm one is considered a Hegelian, Marxist or Sartrean follower.
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).
Sartre's recollection, in Les Mots, of his first visit to the cinema is a multi-layered and ambivalent text through which Sartre proposes a number of interlocking arguments: concerning the contrast between the 'sacred' space of the theatre and the non-ceremonial space of the cinema, between the theatre as associated with paternal authority, and the cinema as associated with a clandestine bond with the mother. But the text also sets up a quasi-sociological account of the public Sartre encounters in the cinema itself as revealing to him the truth of the social bond, a truth he expresses with the term 'adherence', and which he says he only rediscovered in his experience of being a prisoner in the Stalag in 1940. Rather than the basis of a sociological account of the social bond, which would seem at odds with Sartre's social philosophy, I read this as the expression of a desire for physical proximity. The space of the cinema thus develops a fantasy, and this is in continuity with the role of the cinema in the evolution traced in Les Mots, in which it is described as instigating a withdrawal into imaginary life and an indulgence in daydreaming. Through reference to Christian Metz and to Roland Barthes, whose essay 'En sortant du cinéma' is proposed as a parallel and a response to Sartre, I suggest that the 'true bond' of adherence which Sartre encounters is an unconscious rather than an epistemological truth.
Constance L. Mui
To many Sartreans, these accounts of the common physical and psychological responses to trauma reflect a familiar view of the self. For Sartre, the self is not an unchanging, underlying essence that guarantees personal identity over time; rather, it is an ongoing project that is founded on our being-in-the-world as embodied freedom, on our concrete relations with others, and, I would add, on our emotions. It thus appears that feminist writings on the effects of sexual trauma could benefit greatly from a careful reading or rereading of Sartrean ontology, even though Sartre himself has not, to my knowledge, related any aspect of his philosophy specifically to the problem of trauma. With this in mind, this essay attempts to work out, within the broader Sartrean ontological framework, a preliminary outline of a phenomenology of rape trauma, one that is based on a feminist consideration of Sartre's distinct but intertwined theories of freedom, embodiment, and the emotions. In this endeavor, an important point I hope to bring out is that even though Sartre has at best provided a rough sketch for his theory of the emotions, we can nevertheless glean from that sketch valuable insights that can both inform and illuminate our understanding of the effects of trauma.
For the one hundredth anniversary of Sartre's birth it is fitting to consider some of the ways in which his thought remains relevant to our present concerns and to those of the foreseeable future. In this age of terrorism, most people would perhaps think first of Sartre's writings on political violence. Analytical philosophers, on the other hand, might be more inclined to cite Sartre's early works on such "hot" topics as the emotions and the imagination, not to mention consciousness more generally. And historians of philosophy, mindful of the cyclical nature of philosophical fashions and enthusiasms, might well point to a developing resurgence of interest in phenomenology, and to Sartre's distinctive contributions to that philosophical movement. Indeed, given the astonishing range of Sartre's writings, on everything from art to biography to history to psychology to literary criticism, it is impossible in one short essay to identify every contribution of enduring (or perhaps even permanent) value. Accordingly, I will focus here on just two topics: freedom and education.
In a witty entry written in 1987 for a hypothetical dictionary to be published at the dawn of the new millennium, Bernard Henri-Lévy proposed the following definition of the intellectual: “Noun, masculine gender, a social and cultural category born in Paris at the moment of the Dreyfus Affair, died in Paris at the end of the twentieth century; apparently was not able to survive the decline in belief in Universals” (506). Twenty-five years later, intellectuals continue to exist on both banks of the Seine but their current prestige no longer matches the one they once enjoyed in the City of Light. Over the course of the last three centuries, intellectuals in France have occupied a prominent position in politics and society, and their voices have extended beyond the ivory tower of academia. More so than any other country in the world (with the possible exception of Russia), France demonstrates the extent to which people’s daily life can be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse works of literature, sociology, and philosophy. This constitutes the subject of Jeremy Jennings’s new book, Revolution and the Republic, a history of modern French political thought since the eighteenth century.
Thomas R. Flynn
We are celebrating the centennial year of the birth of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). His death and the huge funeral cortege that spontaneously gathered on that occasion marked the passing of the last of the philosophical "personalities" of our era. Contrast, for example, his departure, which I did not witness, with that of Michel Foucault, which I did. The latter was acknowledged in a modest ceremony at the door of the Salpêtrière Hospital; his private funeral in the province was even more stark. The two passings exhibit the distinction graphically. Foucault, the most likely candidate to become Sartre's successor as reigning intellectual on the Left Bank, exited the institution that had figured in several of his books attended by a small crowd of a couple hundred, admittedly assembled without public notification, on a damp morning to hear Gilles Deleuze read a brief passage from the preface to The Uses of Pleasure. Describing philosophy as "the critical work that thought brings to bear on itself," the message had an ironically haunting Sartrean ring.