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.
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.
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’.
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.”
This article explores the relationship between existentialism and the horror genre. Noël Carroll and others have proposed that horror monsters defy established categories. Carroll also argues that the emotion they provoke - 'art-horror' - is a 'composite' of fear and disgust. I argue that the sometimes horrifying images and metaphors of Sartre's early philosophy, which correlate with nausea and anxiety, have a non-coincidental commonality with art-horror explained by existentialism's preoccupation with the interstitial nature of the self. Further, it is argued that, as with some of the more sophisticated examples of the horror genre, the way for existential protagonists like Roquentin and Gregor Samsa to meet the challenge of the horrifying involves an accommodation of these features of the existential condition within their developing identity, which results in them appearing monstrous to others. Lastly, it is claimed that the association between existentialism and art-horror can explain the (paradoxical) appeal of horror.
At the center of his ontological treatise, Being and Nothingness, in a section titled "The Look," Sartre creates a small narrative moment of dubious virtue in which he is able to resolve one of the truly vexing problems of phenomenology up to his time. It is the problem of the Other. How is it that one can apprehend the Other as subject? Previously, philosophy had sought to understand the other through reflection or attribution (and Sartre deals in particular with the Hegelian and Heideggerian accounts). But to regard the other as a reflection of oneself ends in an obvious solipsism: all others would be only reflections of oneself. To define the other as a subject simply because one saw a person standing there reduces subjectivity irretrievably to object status. And to attribute subjectivity to the other as an extension of experience with oneself as a subject renders one a source of mere doctrine through which to see others. Yet to proclaim the other to be unknowable as a subject leaves no basis upon which to speak about personal and social relations. I will argue that because Sartre's account of the look, his vision of the interpersonal as a subject-object relation, is couched within the realm of the visible, it takes the form of conflict. It will be my contention that being-for-others takes on a different character when articulated in terms of the spoken or "audible." And this difference will have certain socio-political ramifications.
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.
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.
Being and Nothingness opens with the claim that modern thought has sought to overcome a certain number of dualisms which have embarrassed philosophy in so far as their acceptance provides one with no way of explaining how there can be a relation between mind and world. The dualism of being and appearance is mentioned in this context.1 Sartre contends, however, that modern thought has failed to make good its aim, for the solutions in question have been set out within a framework that presupposes the dualism which was to have been transcended. So, for example, the idealist solution – that being is reducible to appearance – turns out to assume the very conception of appearance implied by the dualistic model (BN 5.iv). By doing so, it fails to provide a genuine alternative to those forms of realism that insist, in similar vein, that there is an insurmountable distinction between being and appearance, and is thus in no better position to explain how there can be a relation between mind and world.
As a psychologist working with individuals, couples, and groups over the past 25 years, I have become convinced that group therapy holds effective possibilities for treatment that neither individual nor couples therapy can match. In theorizing about why group work holds such potency for changing lives, I have come to place it in a Sartrean context. I believe that group therapy offers a greater possibility for revolutionary praxis than individual or couples therapy. In saying this, I am not talking about political or social revolution, but rather the possibility for radical change in a person's orientation toward the world, which groups tend to provoke and reinforce in a way that is more difficult in other forms of therapy. Sartre's concept of groups in his later philosophy, especially in Search for a Method and the Critique of Dialectical Reason, can help us to understand better this transformative power of groups. Such power is not always positive, of course, as Sartre himself recognizes—and as social and political history so amply demonstrates. But the nature of therapy groups is such that they at least have the potential for positive results.