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.
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.
Adrian Van Den Hoven
This article analyzes articles and interviews published in Sartre on Theater and focuses on five plays (Bariona, The Flies, No Exit and The Condemned of Altona) in order to arrive at a coherent conception of Sartre's theater. Sartre views the stage as “belonging to a different imaginary realm“ in which the characters' language, gestures and the props function in a synecdochical relationship in respect to the spectators. It is their task to grasp these “signs“ and bundle them into a coherent and meaningful whole. Because Sartre views the theater as an imaginary realm, he can free himself from the strictures of his philosophy: 1) the irreversibility of time; 2) the fact that life does not give us a second chance; and 3) that death means that our life falls into the public domain. This freedom allows Sartre to deal with temporality in a novel way and to deal with “life after death“ as life simply continued. Conversely, he can scramble temporality for psychological reasons in order to bring out deep rooted personal conflicts, as he does in The Condemned of Altona.
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.
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.
For over fifty years Francis Jeanson has been one of the world’s exemplary radical thinkers and actors. We Sartreans know him as the author of one of the earliest, and still most insightful, books on Sartre’s philosophy, Le Problème moral et la philosophie de Jean-Paul Sartre [Available in translation. See Sartre and the Problem of Morality, Bloomington, 1980], Sartre par lui-même, and Sartre dans sa vie, as well as of the review of Camus’ L’Homme révolté [The Rebel, New York, 1954] which instigated the Sartre/Camus break. Then came Algeria. As his biographer writes, “His intervention against the Algerian War shapes our collective destiny. Without Francis Jeanson, the resistance of French intellectuals to this colonial war would have been different” (Marie-Pierre Ulluoa, Francis Jeanson: un intellectuel en dissidence [Paris: Berg International, 2001], 244). At the beginning of the insurrection he and his first wife wrote a book about French colonialism and its effects on Algeria. He then organized the Jeanson network, the “porteurs des valises” who hid Algerian activists and deserters from the French army, and raised money for the FLN. In this role he lived underground for several years and was tried and sentenced in absentia to 10 years prison, a sentence which was only commuted at the end of the war. Jeanson was invited to Chalon-sur-Saône to direct its House of Culture and then worked as a philosopher participating in a continuing education program for psychiatrists in a mental hospital. He then returned to a small family house in Claouey, on the Bassin d’Arcachon, where he has continued to write and involve himself in such activities as the France-Sarajevo Association, which has encouraged a multi-ethnic Bosnia.
Exactly what does Jean-Paul Sartre mean when he describes some conscious awareness as ‘non-thetic’? He does not explicitly say. Yet this phrase, sprinkled liberally throughout his early philosophical works, is germane to some of the distinctive and fundamental theories of Sartrean existentialism. My aim in this paper is to examine the concept in terms of the role that Sartre claims it plays in bad faith (mauvaise foi), the deliberate and motivated project of refusing to face or consider the consequences of some fact or facts. I will argue that non-thetic awareness could play the role Sartre ascribes to it in bad faith only if it is understood as being equivalent to the nonconceptual representational content currently discussed in anglophone philosophy of mind. I will proceed by first providing an initial rough characterisation of ‘non-thetic’ awareness through a discussion of the philosophical background to Sartre’s term, then showing how this rough characterisation needs to be refined in order that bad faith may evade the two paradoxes of self-deception, next drawing the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content, and then arguing that non-thetic awareness must be construed as nonconceptual content. This clarification of one of the most pervasive and one of the most obscure concepts in Sartrean existentialism will have the additional ramifications that Sartre’s theory of consciousness in general must be understood as involving both conceptual and nonconceptual structures and that his discussion of the interplay of these structures can provide innovative and valuable contributions to the debates over the role of conceptual and nonconceptual contents in perception and action currently raging in anglophone discussions of mind.
This article shows that Sartre’s theatrical works offer a reflection on morality, in particular The Flies, The Devil and the Good Lord, and The Sequestered of Altona. The ethical reflections that we find in his plays fill a philosophical gap left after Being and Nothingness. The plays offer an exploration of freedom’s rootedness in situation which complements the more theoretical notes of the posthumously published Notebooks for an Ethics. Additionally, I link Sartre’s ethics and Nietzsche’s ethics showing that both thinkers rest their philosophies on a strict atheism. Further, their elaborations on morality follow a similar path by emphasizing individual freedom and thus subsequently the responsibility of the individual as the creator of values.
Cet article fait la démonstration que les œuvres théâtrales de Sartre, plus particulièrement Les Mouches, Le Diable et le bon dieu et Les Séquestrés d'Altona, tiennent lieu de réflexion morale chez Sartre. La réflexion éthique qu'on y retrouve comble un manque laissé par les écrits philosophiques suivant L'Être et le néant. Les pièces et leur exploration de l'ancrage de la liberté dans la situation offrent un complément aux notes plus théoriques des Cahiers pour une morale, publiés à titre posthume. En plus de faire cette démonstration, cet article explore les liens entre la morale des pièces sartriennes et la morale nietzschéenne. Il ressort de cet examen que ces deux morales s'appuient sur un athéisme pur et dur et s'élaborent de même façon en mettant l'emphase sur la liberté de l'individu et son rôle en tant que créateur de valeurs.
Janson M. Costanzo
Heidegger’s Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation, by Herman Philipse Jason M. Costanzo